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The Diffusion of Innovation in the Residential Building Industry

Release Date: 
January 2004 (95 pages)
Posted Date:   
April 25, 2006

Many home product manufacturers and home builders still rely on traditional materials and practices. At the same time, homebuyers are requiring higher performance and better quality in their homes. Successful integration of new technologies and materials with construction practices can lead to more affordable housing, better energy efficiency, more durable housing stock, less materials waste, and the conservation of scarce natural resources. It is possible to accelerate the technology adoption process with well-designed programs, demonstrations, marketing strategies, and policy incentives. This study by HUD and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) was conducted to determine how and under what circumstances residential housing innovations become standard industry practices. The report reviews current theory and research on the diffusion of innovations generally, and in the construction industry. A sample of homebuilders was subsequently queried about their decisions to use new building products, materials, and practices. In addition, the study analyzes innovation adoption patterns of homebuilders across several years as tracked by the National Association of Home Builders Annual Builder Practices Survey. The collected data advances our knowledge about innovation in residential construction and points to further research that is needed.