Builders push 'Made in America' homes

Two builders who tried it say using more products made in the United States doesn't cost that much more -- and, more important, it creates jobs.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Feb 1, 2013 11:53AM

Home completed using American made building products in Bethany Beach, Del.
© We Build AmericanIn the past couple of years, several builders have tried an experiment: Could they build a home made only of components made in the United States?


The answer turned to be “almost.”


Encouraged by their experience, several builders and U.S.-based suppliers of building materials have joined to create a movement called We Build American, which was launched at last week’s International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Their goal is to encourage more “Made in America” homes. The advice applies to remodelers, too.


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"This initiative is designed to spread the word that you can build homes with approximately 95% American-made materials and products, have a higher quality home, and maintain and create American jobs – all with little impact on overall building costs," Maggie Hardy Magerko, the owner of 84 Lumber, one of the companies participating in the campaign, said in a news release.

Builders in Montana and Delaware have already put the initiative into practice.


Anders Lewendal Construction in Bozeman, Mont., embarked on its The All-American Home campaign after a client requested a home built using as many local products as possible. That gave Lewendal and his son Jake an idea: Could you build a home entirely of U.S.-made materials?

They discovered that they could -- putting aside the debate over foreign-born labor -- and that the additional cost was negligible. Estimating that 75% of the products used in building a home were already made in America, the Lewendals began looking for ways to substitute U.S.-made products for foreign ones.


"The point is that little things can add up," Anders Lewendal told The New York Times last year. "I think we could solve this recession if everyone shifted just 5% of their purchases to U.S.-made products."

According to their website, the Boston Consulting Group determined that if every builder in the United States shifted 5% of construction spending from foreign to domestic products, it would create 220,000 American jobs.


In Delaware, Marnie Oursler heard about Lewendal’s project and embarked on her own. She teamed up with 84 Lumber to build a home of about 95% of U.S. products in Bethany Beach, Del. She has five more under construction.


"When I was building in 2007, all the studs we used in our houses were stamped with American flags," she told The Wall Street Journal. "But homebuilding became such a price-conscious industry after the housing crash that people stopped asking where materials came from. All they wanted to know was, ‘How much does it cost?'"


Her results were similar to Lewendal’s: She calculated that the cost of the made-in-the-USA home was only about 1% more than it would have been if she had used foreign products.


Both she and Lewendal noted that the U.S-made nails cost considerably more than those made in China. But, Oursler noted, the additional cost added only $600 to the cost of the entire home. And both builders discovered that the U.S. nails, which cost about $5 more per box, don’t jam the nail guns as much, saving on labor time.


What do you think? Should builders try harder to use U.S.-made materials in the homes they construct?

Feb 9, 2013 8:38PM
As much as they can...we need jobs and we need to get American pride back on track>> And of all those who mocked us...let them set sail for different lands !!!

Feb 9, 2013 7:21PM
Made in America products have always been more popular in the Philippines than made in China or Japan even though they cost more! Maybe they know that our quality is better? hmn! that's excactly what they think!
Feb 9, 2013 5:15PM

As I read this and the replies, while the unions have caused increased costs in the US, let's not forget the EPA has driven many manufacturing industries out of the US by placing costly upgrades to existing plants.  I'm not for dirty air, but the EPA's power needs to be controlled. The EPA makes up rules and regulations as they go,without any over site by Congress,  So a plant in the US that meet clean air standards today may be forced to upgrade to ridiculous standards.  With the EPA costs and the unions unwilling to work with the industry to control costs, the industry leaves the US.   When the industry moves to a third world country like China, with no air quality concerns and no Unions, they make the products and pollute the air - worse thant he plants in he US.  So the polluted air travels around the world and pollutes our air worse than the companies the EPA shut down.


Hears an interesting thought - unions give billions to liberal politicians, liberal politicians allow the EPA to destroy or manufacturing economy, which in turn put 100,000's of union workers out of work.  So basically the unions actually support the moving of jobs to China...   Hmmmmm...

Feb 9, 2013 3:45PM
Hey Kirt, did you learn to spell and write from a union teacher?  Bet you did and it shows.
Feb 9, 2013 3:43PM
Odd how so many people demand higher wages but want to buy everything cheaper.  Ironically, cheaper is EXACTLY that.

Like the man said, over the years I have come across so many people that hated Unions simply because they were told to with absolutely no concept of what Unions truly are. Sadly people don;t even realize how many companies compete with Unions "just" under their prices and pay the workers peanuts which yields massive profits. I wonder if those business owners are pro-union ?

Feb 9, 2013 3:42PM
If our piece of crap socialist government and Federal reserve leave us real americans alone the economy will repair itself. All our problems in america came from the us congress.
I am amazed by some of the uninformed views in this post. While unions have been essentially crippled since the airmtraffic controllers were replaced during the Reagan administration, most people in the country still make a better wage because those unions existed. Employers don not paymwell because they want to, but because they have to. Unions are not perfect, but their power loss has decimated the middle class. 
Feb 9, 2013 9:48AM

Of course buying American made products means overall a better product, take for example screws and nails just like in this peice. Buying American means you are putting more Americans back to work, and especially right now that can only be a good thing. But also when you take into consideration the $$ you will save in labor time. I used to be a builder myself, the gun nails not jamming as much saves time, screwing a deck down and not having the screws spin out. At that point you have to use locking pliers to " lock onto the screw" and manually twist it out. Laying down thousands of screws, if 1 out of 10 spin out, you've just lost a considerable amount of time. And this is just one example of many.

However one of these guys are right about putting money back into America. Obama will just let more minorities sit on their asses and collect an even bigger check because that is our reponsibility to take care of others? How about the blacks that are driving brand new Mercedes Benz, or Cadillacs with spinners. But then you wonder why they're standing in line to collect their welfare checks. It is absolutely discusting, I am almost ashamed to say I live in a Country where this can happen. But Obama keep giving free money to the people who least deserve it, but it's ok, I mean it's only my money and everyone else who honestly earns a paycheck.

Feb 9, 2013 8:19AM
We can make it American if we try.  A few years ago I ordered the materials for a 900 sf deck from Lowes.  They delivered on schedule but the deck screws were made in China.  I called and asked for US made product.  As so often happens I got a smart **** kid on the phone who gave me some drivel answer that Lowes had provided screws and it really wasn't any of my business where they came from.  My instant reaction was to tell them to pick up the damned lumber and I'd go elsewhere.  About then the juvenile "customer service" dweeb was replaced by an adult who really didn't want to lose a $15,000 sale and agreed to "do something."  When I returned from work the next day the lumber was still where they had delivered it but the Chinese screws had been replaced with a US product.  Important?  Not in the grand scheme of things ($50 item) but it drove home to that store that some people do care where things are made and that non caring customer service employees can really hurt sales.  Since then we've gone on a crusade to buy American and succeed well over 95% of the time.  We get what we demand, or will tolerate, from business firms. I don't pick fights with store employees or expect perfection but it's my money. 

I have been trying to purchase made in USA items, as long as they are reasonably priced and not Union Made.  I try never to purchase items made by Unions, especially since the last election.

Look at the situation in Chicago with the Union teachers having the worst educated children in the country and the highest wages and pensions in the country.  Unions are Communist and they teach children how to be great future Communist.  I can't support that.  This used to be a free country, abiding by the Constitution.  But no more thanks to the Communist educators.

Feb 9, 2013 7:37AM
Buying American should not stop with building product.  I use medical supplies and the all come from China. when we as consumers start demanding more made in America and unions stop raping us then this country can start to heal. 
Feb 9, 2013 6:29AM
If we can keep politicians and unions out of the mix,  America will return to manufacturing quality goods that we, and the world, will want and buy.
Feb 9, 2013 6:18AM
We do make the best by far. Growing up in the 60's we were taught look for made in USA. don't buy made in japan or china. walmart
Feb 9, 2013 6:03AM
I love it, it would be great for everyone to take pride in our country again, and ask for things made her in amereica where I feel things are made of better quality and pride.
Feb 9, 2013 5:07AM

U.S. made means business & money stays in American hands instead of China.

Feb 9, 2013 4:38AM

You always save money when you buy quality products. I live in a foreign country currently and often parts break here especially plumbing and electrical componets break or burn up which then ruins everything around like a fire or water damage. Can you really afford cheap?? I don't think so in the long run. A house will last at least a 100 years or even twice that. Conponets that also last that long will help the house survive too.


Feb 6, 2013 6:31AM
It really comes down to a quality issue on a case-by-case basis. Nails that cost a little more but don't jam and therefore save on labor hours are fantastic. And as long as each product comes out to have a measurable quality benefit that is greater than the increase in price, than all is good. But buying American made products just because they are American made seems like a bad cost/benefit analysis when looking at the quality of the finished home as compared to cost and selling price.
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