Reflections on the Building Industry - IBS 2011

Scott Koontz shares some observations on the 2011 International Builders Show.

Having just returned from the industry's largest annual trade show, I wanted to share some thoughts about the things that we saw...

Getting Greener - the industry continues to embrace more and more products and processes that promote energy efficiency and sustainability in materials.  Many different vendors were touting the benefits of their spray foam insulation and its vast superiority to fiberglass and even cellulose.  SIPS panels (Structural Insulated Panels) are available from a number of different sources, and also are promoted for their high energy efficiency and ease of use.  Emphasis on renewable materials, recycled materials and efficient use of materials is seen across the show floor.  It is apparent that the industry recognizes the value to the consumer of an energy efficient home, built of renewable materials and built to fit the family that will live there.

Generation "Y" in view - several seminar presenters were pushing builders to prepare for the next generation of buyers: Generation Y, also called the Millenials.  In terms of pure numbers, Gen Y will be bigger than the renowned Baby Boom generation.  Builders are happy to hear that there is a large pool of potential homeowners on the way.  However, builders are being cautioned to understand what this new generation of buyers will want - probably less square footage in their homes, but with nicer finishes throughout.  Millenial buyers also seem to value flexibility in their floorplans... leading builders to re-examine old plans to see if they still "fit" with these upcoming buyers.

Is this the bottom of the market? - The burst of the housing bubble was well documented; the numbers of show attendees and vendor exhibitors at the show is almost 50% of what it was 3-4 years ago.  So what happens now?  There are threads of optimism running throughout the industry.  Some people think that the pent up demand of the last few years will finally lead to some activity in housing starts.  Interest rates remain low and industry figures show that we are not currently building enough houses to satisfy the needs of new households being formed.  Those builders who have weathered the storms of the last few years are positioning themselves to meet the needs of homeowners in 2011.  

Everybody at Dale Koontz Builder is poised for a good year.  Stay tuned....