Sunday, 11 December 2016

A solution to our housing problems: 'customer focused housebuilding.'

We could actually listen to what 'customers' want - rather than simply plonking a load of lookalikes for them to 'choose':

However, commendable the Housing Association provision, it is nevertheless a case of 'here it is and come and get it':
DCH - Investing in people, homes and communities across the south west - DCH meets Housing Minister at Cranbrook tour

In Japan, on the other hand, they are used to a situation where the inhabitant-to-be can determine to a significant degree exactly what they want to live in.

This piece is from some time ago, but still shows how far our own housebuilders are from providing a more nuanced market:

Customer Focused Housing 
Exhibition of Japanese housing technologies, new approaches to design and techniques for meeting user-needs through customisation. 
Venue The Building Centre Trust Gallery 26 Store Street London WC1E 7BT 
Dates (9:00 - 17:30) 16th October-1st December 2001. 
Symposium Customer Focused Housing - Lessons from Japan launch of DTI Expert Mission report: 'Are you being served? Japanese lessons on customer focused housebuilding.' 
Japan's housebuilders deliver customised homes with very high levels of customer service. Japan offers many lessons for the British housebuilding industry. 
Organiser SPRU University of Sussex

Japan 2001 Architecture, Japan 2001 Exhibitions, Japan 2001 projects

  • "While national builders also dominate in Japan, they are not land developers and have not pursued product standardization . Instead, they have adopted elements of both mass production and customization, or " mass customization, " via new production technologies and marketing techniques (Barlow and Ozaki, 2001; Patchell, 2002). Housebuilding is therefore quite varied, with national contexts of production, regulation, and market competition. "
Are you being served? Japanese lessons on customer focused housebuilding (PDF Download Available)

See also:
OBT 2000: Open Building Tokyo 2000

And here too:


The ‘Mass Custom Design’ Approach to the Delivery of Quality Affordable Homes

Dr Masa Noguchi
ZEMCH Network
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
The University of Melbourne

Today’s Housing Design Approaches

Homebuilders are usually categorised into three types: production, semi-custom and custom (Smith 1998; Noguchi 2008). Production builders are organised for high volume construction. They develop several model homes, normally designed on a speculative basis, in response to market demand. The production design (or speculative design) approach allows homebuilders to produce a ready-built home, in which potential buyers can examine the quality and attributes of their new home in a way that blueprints alone cannot achieve—thus, helping to ensure the buyers’ satisfaction. The advantages of speculative design also extend to reducing the lapsed time and cost of construction. The total time to build a standardised house is much shorter than for a one-of-a-kind design since construction staff are familiar with the plans; communications are simplified and material delays less likely to occur as suppliers are able to stock regularly used items. Higher volume work, such as a subdivision housing development, also offers trade contractors advantages in scheduling that result in significant cost savings.

Builders, who apply the semi-custom design approach for their housing development, are often called semi-custom builders since they combine characteristics of ready-built and custom-built homes. Like production builders, they usually work with pre-existing plans or ready-designed model homes; however, they are flexible regarding design changes including those that require engineering and building department approval. As a result, even though customers begin with an existing floor plan, they have enhanced opportunity to modify and customise the interior and exterior finishes, and structure (or volume) of their new home. Starting with an existing plan often helps customers feel confident of ending up with something that will reflect what they need and want. Smith (1998) indicates that revising existing plans is faster, and less costly, than creating a new set of blueprints. However, economies of high-volume work are lost, resulting in higher prices and builders need more time as they are working from unfamiliar plans.

Custom builders start from a blank sheet of paper, or computer screen, to create a completely unique home. Some custom builders establish relationships with one or more independent architects for plan development, while, for others, the builder is also an architect, or has an architect or draftsman on staff—these builders are called "design-build firms." The custom design approach is the optimum way to customise a new home since it creates one-of-a-kind homes corresponding exactly to individual housing requirements. However, custom-built homes typically take the longest to complete. Supervising scattered site work, the longer time required to build combined with lost economies of large-volume work leads to the higher prices typical for custom homes (Smith 1998).

Today’s homebuilders are encountering a production gap between the need for product standardisation (or mass production) that helps reduce construction costs and the need for product customisability that satisfies diverse demands of contemporary consumers (Noguchi 2004). 


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