I recently sat down with Will Severyn of Severyn Development for a brief chat about his experience using our process and products after coming to us in early May of 2019. Here’s what we discussed:
What brought you to Barden?
The very first thing that brought us in is building on infill property. So here in Buffalo, what I believe is going to be a very popular way of building in the future, is we’re taking old city and village properties in dense areas where people want to live, and there’s no room to stage. When we started building stick frames in the suburbs and we had 75’ x 150’ lots, we could get a forklift around and have materials delivered, no problem. Now though, working in the city, what we like is that we can set the deck on the foundation the first day, the next day the walls show up, the next floor the next day, trusses the next. By redesigning and reengineering how our buildings are installed, we don’t have any waste, we aren’t moving things twice, we don’t have any dumpsters during framing.
After working with Barden for a few months now, how will our system affect the way you plan your projects moving forward?
First, it’s going to shorten our timelines. On one of our hardest projects (1016 Lafayette) that you guys came in and framed for us, it took us two and a half weeks to frame the garage, and Barden had the house up in about 6 days. Now that saves a lot of time and a lot of frustration for our clients. Again we’re building on tight sites, so it’s stressful. The minute that structure is up, the whole project gets a lot easier.
Our floor plans are changing to include more truss work, we’re looking to utilize floor truss systems for longer spans - we’re getting a lot of requests for more open living spaces.
When we go to build duplexes, income units, things of that nature, we have the same price for the lumber package every time. When I go to build an investment property, I want to know what it’s going to cost based on what the last one was, and you guys are the ones able to do that. I used to work with other lumber suppliers, and they would do the take-off to the best of their ability from the plan, but our framers still had to call in for more lumber. What happened was that we never had two projects that looked the same. With Barden we can engineer it, pre-fab it, and know that it’s going to be the same price and nothing is going to be wasted. I even had contractors calling in extra lumber that wasn’t necessary. So now there’s no add-ons; the lumber is all there, pre-cut and labeled, and I know I’m not wasting any money.
Has switching to Barden changed your process?
It doesn’t change the process, I don’t think anyone should look at this as an overhaul of their construction process, but it does make it quicker.
How has the feedback from your contractors and customers been since switching to Barden?
Our project managers love the Barden system. The windows come out better, the framing comes out quicker, there are less change orders. Basically what we’re forced to do, in a good way, is confirm our floor plans with our clients ahead of time. It might take a little longer to get started, but by presenting the Barden system they understand that once it’s engineered it’s going together one way. That really allows us to move forward with the project ordering the trim, the siding, the doors, the windows. We know that the floor plan isn’t going to change, where in the past I’ve had stick frame projects where because making changes are still an option, we have changes to window sizes and room dimensions that make planning for the next phases much more difficult.
We’ve talked a lot about infill lots, but you have done some patio homes and single family homes in the suburbs with us as well. Based on all of the jobs you’ve done with us so far, what has your overall impression been?
With the cost of construction, the way it increases, and the way that it changes - seasonality, market, contractor availability - all those factors are variables that we have to estimate when we do our construction. Lumber and framing should not have to be one of those variables, but that’s how it is when you enter a stick frame project. You have an estimate, it’s your best guess, but it changes dramatically throughout the project. So what we like, whether it’s a custom home or an income property or a standard single family house, we like that when we start the project we know the lumber cost and it does not change.
Outside of the obvious material and labor costs, what other savings have you seen?
There’s definitely cost savings in not having a dumpster on site during framing. I used to have framers that would fill a 30 yard dumpster full of brand new wood. So we’re saving at least $500 per dumpster, so it’s like immediately taking $500 off of the framing. Plus, because everything is pre engineered, we have less change orders. What we’re finding is that to make any changes to the plan at all, it’s $250-$500 minimum in labor, so every change order we eliminate the better. So we’re saving on waste and on labor.
Time is huge too. When our best crew did one of our patio homes, the crew has 9 guys, it took them a week to frame. Barden showed up with 3 guys and it took them 3 days. Framing to us, especially where we build, needs to be a fast process. We can get a roof on a house 3 days after we lay the decking on the first floor.
We don’t have access to framers right now because they’re tied up on their last project for too long. We have to have some of that labor done ahead of time to keep control over the project. With Barden, you guys are going to have a house a week framed for us with a single crew.