Building Better Homes

Building Better Homes: Government Strategies for Promoting Innovation in Housing

Scott Hassell
Anny Wong
Ari Houser
Debra Knopman
Mark Bernstein
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 130
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1658hud-path
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Building Better Homes
    Book Description:

    This report examines the structure, characteristics, and motivations of major participants in the housing industry to explore how innovation might be accelerated. It identifies options and strategies for the federal government to consider as it attempts to further advance innovation in housing to make homes more affordable, durable, and safe. Innovation in housing would provide benefits to a broad range of participants, including homebuilders, manufacturers, insurers, regulators, and homeowners.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3409-0
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
    Helga Rippen
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. SUMMARY
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. ACRONYMS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. Chapter One INNOVATION IN HOUSING
    (pp. 1-8)

    Housing in the United States comes in varied forms depending on land, climate, and available resources. Over time, changes in design, materials, building techniques, financing, and planning have changed what homes are made of, how they are built, what we can do in them, and who can afford them. As a result of these changes—referred to asinnovationsin this report—the quality and nature of housing have improved significantly, although not evenly for all inhabitants in all places and times.

    The true value of innovation is that it is a means to an end. For example innovations in...

  10. Chapter Two THE CONCEPT OF INNOVATION IN THE U.S. HOUSING INDUSTRY
    (pp. 9-24)

    Much of the literature on innovation in housing examines the rate at which inventions are developed, how quickly innovations are diffused, and whether industry productivity is increasing.¹ Unfortunately, the conclusions of these studies are limited by a lack of data and the difficulty involved in collecting such data. As a result, conclusions are often based on small sample sizes or anecdotal experiences that cannot be extrapolated to industrywide analyses or crosssector comparisons. Although it would be desirable to quantify the state of innovation, it is important to recognize that innovation, no matter its rate, is good, because improvement in products...

  11. Chapter Three THE U.S. HOUSING INDUSTRY AS THE CONTEXT FOR INNOVATION
    (pp. 25-40)

    The housing industry comprises hundreds of thousands of firms designing, building, and maintaining the nation’s homes. It is also made up of millions of individuals working in roughly 80 capacities ranging from surveyors to bankers, Realtors, product manufacturers, code inspectors, homebuilders, contractors, insurance agents, homebuyers, and many others.¹ Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies has estimated that the housing sector, in total, represents roughly 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) once all housing-related costs have been included.² If one only looks at residential construction, it alone has averaged four percent of GDP over the last 20 years.³ Finally,...

  12. Chapter Four INDUSTRY CHARACTERISTICS AND MOTIVES AND THEIR EFFECT ON INNOVATION
    (pp. 41-62)

    The homebuilding process provides a useful structure to introduce the housing industry, but it does not fully explain the industry or its relationship with the innovation process. This chapter supplements Chapter Three by describing several of the industry’s overarching characteristics, by providing insight into the motives of its participants, and by highlighting examples of innovations that are in various stages of realization.

    The U.S. housing industry is often described as competitive, cyclical, and fragmented, but what do these terms mean? What is the justification or evidence for these claims? What are the implications for innovation? This section answers these questions...

  13. Chapter Five FEDERAL EFFORTS TO PROMOTE INNOVATION IN HOUSING
    (pp. 63-82)

    The federal government has long recognized the importance of innovation, although the specific reasons and strategies for supporting it have evolved over time. The modern era of federal support for innovation began during World War II when, in the interests of national security, the federal government supported the development of radar and nuclear weapons. Later, during the energy crises of the 1970s, rising costs and concerns about declining supplies of fossil fuel led the government to support innovation in fossil fuel production, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. Still later, the government began to focus on promoting innovation in the health...

  14. Chapter Six FEDERAL STRATEGIES FOR PROMOTING INNOVATION IN HOUSING
    (pp. 83-96)

    Over the past 100 years, significant innovations have occurred in the housing industry. Despite these accomplishments, industry characteristics and participant motives can present challenges to the innovation process that likely reduce and slow the industry’s rate of innovation.

    This report has shown that the federal government has long recognized both the benefits and challenges associated with innovation and has invested in R&D, passed laws to facilitate technology transfer, and created federal programs to support and accelerate innovation in this industry.

    It is precisely because the benefits of innovation are so great and because the need for innovation continues today that...

  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 97-108)