Changes in Building Practices due to Changing Economic Factors
Maybe this is too broad/general for a good Q&A thread, but given the philosophical bent to the end of a tough year…..here goes:
It seems that residential building practices over the last few decades have been shaped by two broad economic factors: (1) consistently low mortgage/equipment/material financing rates, and (2) until recently, relatively low fuel, material and labor cost inflation. Over time these factors have led to bigger structures and practices and designs that did not always place efficient use of materials or labor as a paramount concern.
The recent spike in inflation has caused a stir, but continued low financing costs have blunted the impact for now. At some point interest rates will likely rise, and this will compound the sting of inflation. If and when this happens, I am wondering if the many experts on this site envision a big change to residential construction practices. When you add in the rising concern for imbedded energy/carbon in building materials, I am wondering if we will see a return to practices where materials are husbanded more carefully and designs pay closer attention to more frugal use of materials with less waste? I am wondering too whether the selection of materials will focus more on cost, availability and how well they adapt to less wasteful applications.
I am not expecting us to go back to the 1970’s (with 15% mortgage rates and constant double digit inflation)…. when I remember de-nailing 2x4s to reuse them and even collecting and straightening 16 penny nails around the job site (imagine young carpenters going around doing that now!) But I think there will be some changes-at first subtle, but later more pronounced….I was curious what you guys thought about this. Thanks.
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