How does metal roofing fit into the future of homebuilding?
As much as we’d like to know the future, who could predict where we are today? Despite this uncertainty, we continue making discoveries, innovating, and advancing. Progress is a part of all areas of life, even though people resist it.
Construction, and specifically homebuilding, has done its best to resist the force of change. Although, advances like manufactured homes, ADUs, and even 3D-printed ones all point to a bright future. Rather than sticking to the tired method of stick-building, manufactured homes allow for much faster installation.
We’ve spoken with two 3-D printed home manufacturers and a company specializing in add-on dwellings for disabled or elderly family members on our podcast, Construction Disruption.
Ken Calligar, CEO of RSG 3-D, was an investment banker who learned of the potential of 3-D printed homes, switched careers, and bought in. RSG makes a unique concrete panel with a reinforcing inner mesh that is incredibly durable against every kind of natural disaster nature can muster. Also, their panels are a vast improvement in speed of installation and cost-effectiveness. Ken found that manufactured homes were so much better that he felt driven to share them with the world.
Ed Macnab, CEO of 3D Printed Homes Co., lent his business acumen to a friend who had a concept for 3-D printed homes. With printing taking mere days instead of the weeks of stick-built homes, 3DPHC’s solution holds tremendous potential. Especially for areas with severe housing demand like Ed’s native Canada, these versatile homes cost 30-50% less than traditional ones.
RJ Adler, Director of Growth and Business Development at WheelPad Inc., shared stories of families who needed to keep disabled or elderly family members close by without an expensive addition. WheelPad’s portable housing attaches temporarily to your own and can be returned when the need passes. Providing an effective solution for people in their time of need is yet another use for the ADU.
A recent event on the National Mall showcased 3-D printed homes and other innovative housing to the Housing Secretary and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Partnered with the National Association of Home Builders, several manufacturers showed off their solutions to the housing crisis. According to Bloomberg, “the White House wants to make manufactured housing a much more conventional option for renters and buyers.”
As stated on their website, the Innovative Housing Showcase is “a three-day event featuring new building technologies and housing solutions that are making housing more innovative, resilient, and affordable for American families.”
I want to focus on the three attributes that make up their larger goal, innovative, resilient, and affordable. All three of these are crucial for the future success of American housing, and if the metal roofing market can match them, we will have a bright future.
Metal roofing is already innovative compared to the standard asphalt shingle; it’s lighter, tougher, energy-efficient, and has more color and style options. Metal is also significantly more resilient than asphalt, standing up to storms, hail, and inclement weather.
The current challenge for metal roofing inherent to the high-quality material, need for skilled installation, and complexity is affordability. All these benefits currently come at a premium.
If metal roofing manufacturers and installers can create a cheaper solution, metal would be a no-brainer for this new wave of housing types.
Now, this would require a major change for metal roofing. To retain its resilience, the material quality can’t change, leaving the complexity and requirement for skilled installation. If we created a new solution with simpler installation methods that could remove the need for a highly trained installer, it would lend itself perfectly to the growing demand for sustainable products.
This push for innovative housing is an excellent opportunity for any building products manufacturer. While metal roofing has enjoyed steady growth over the last few decades, getting on board with innovative housing could be a defining moment for the industry.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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