The Factory Without Walls: Industrialization in Residential Construction

by Richard Bender, John Parman



This article considers some of the principal efforts made towards the old idea of housing industrialization and then the future new problems faced by housing, implications of present trends in the industry and its possible directions. Since 1930s there has been a call for the industrialization of the housing industry in the U.S. This effort has had a very specific image, the image of the automobile industry and of the gradual domination of the housing industry by larger and larger firms involved in factory production of housing units. This image reflected the belief that the methods of the automobile industry, the assembly lines and mass production, as well as the industry's financing and marketing methods could be brought to bear on the problems of housing. But the experience of the last forty-five years seems to show that industrialization in the housing industry has occurred at another level and in another form. This has involved mass production as well, of building materials, products and tools, but in a more significant way it has involved creation of an industry that serves builders and that has provided new methods, tools, materials and products that greatly expand the number of persons who can so describe themselves. In this way the entire industry has been transformed.

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