The most common types of information technology used in the residential construction industry are smart phones, desktop computers, and laptops, according to recent NAHB surveys. In separate surveys of single-family builders and remodelers, at least 70 percent of those responding reported using each of these devices (over 80 percent, for smart phones and desktops).
Next comes a group of devices and applications used by between 28 and 44 percent of builders and remodelers: Ipads, standard cellular phones, mobile apps provided by manufacturers, and GPS. Tablets (excluding Ipads) and voice over Internet Protocol have penetrated the residential construction market only to a limited extent.
So far, the information technology has been used more for managing internal operations than interacting with customers. At least 80 percent of builders use the technology for internal management of their businesses, management of individual projects, and internal communications with staff. About half use the technology to select products and to help make client presentations. Further use of the technology to interact with customers—either by allowing customers track progress of a project, or allowing the builder to track customer satisfaction after the project is completed—is limited to about 20 percent of builders.
There are only a few noticeable differences between single-family builders and remodelers. Compared to builders, remodelers are slightly less likely to use technology for staff communications, but slightly more likely to use the technology for client presentations and product selection. Remodelers are also more likely than single-family builders to use GPS, possibly reflecting the relative difficulty of locating isolated addresses in existing neighborhoods vs. construction sites in a new subdivision.
For further discussion and more detail, see the March 2012 Special Study in HousingEconomics.com.