I have Subway to thank for making me believe that bigger is better. With every trip to the counter, I have the best of intentions to go with the efficient and cost-effective six-inch sub. But those sneaky little sandwich artists bait me into the extra six inches every time. How have we come to believe that those few extra inches bring some monumental value with little cost differential? 

Recently walking product with a client, I observed another artist that has mastered the extra six inches game. Window artists have convinced builders across the nation that using wood window sizing in vinyl windows is prestigious. In many cases, no convincing needed to be made, we just kept our traditional sizes when we moved from wood to vinyl. The cost of the extra six inches in the window is not in relation to the added value of the glass. These windows create a non-standard vinyl window size, and generally add a hefty premium to the cost of the window. In addition, non-standard is a dead give-a-way for LONG LEAD TIME. 

A few extra inches in a room design can also carry costs far exceeding value and are often overlooked. For example, I cringe when I see a secondary bedroom that is just over 12 feet wide. Why cringe? Once we cross 11’-10”, I am introducing a carpet seam and significant waste into the bedroom. Not only have I increased my cost of the carpet, but I am inviting a warranty call-back.

We often design without the implications of cost in the early stages. These little design modifications can easily add thousands of dollars to our direct construction costs with little to no value added. To maximize profitability, design with material knowledge and cost in consideration. Ask these questions: will these few extra inches add studs; will they create an inefficient finish layout; will they alter my selections in the span chart; will they add time to my schedule? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your design needs to be altered. In the market ahead, the need for highly efficient, low-cost designs is critical. 

Walk your product with an eye for the waste in design. This is low-hanging fruit to give your organization a jumpstart on reigning in cost and reducing time inefficiencies. 

Reach out to Shinn Consulting at 303-972-7666 or info@shinnconsulting.com. We can help you eliminate design inefficiencies and control your costs. 

Dave Burleigh is a consultant at Shinn Consulting. He is passionate about Unit Price Measurement (UPM) and helping builders improve the accuracy of their estimates to reduce direct construction cost. Dave's areas of expertise include estimating, construction efficiency, and material waste reduction.