Innovation is Alive + Well in Scottsdale

On September 19, 2022 leaders from across the nation who are helping to shape the future of housing gathered in Scottsdale for a full day of activities.

40+ strong, they explored innovation in trade management, 3D factories in the field, design + installation of air distribution, information modeling + robotics enabled plumbing installations + mobile-ready field learning.

Not surprisingly, at each stop, issues of labor + retention were addressed either directly or indirectly. In the words of Rodney Hall, Hall | Williams Executive Search, “Getting work done better, more efficiently and with less hands-on manpower is key.”

Read over the highlights below and stay posted to LinkedIn for best-of clips + insights.


We caught up with Nigel Watts, VP of Production, for a tour at BB Living’s Build-for-Rent community where we got to see the Rheia engineered HVAC duct system installed. 

Key Takeaways…

  • Rheia is an HVAC system built with simplicity, efficiency, and improved comfort in mind.
  • Usually more money is spent on labor and less on materials. With Rheia it’s the opposite. More on materials, less on labor –and the end cost is comparable in most markets.
  • Bonus: It’s super easy to install and everything needed for all of the ductwork in a house (other than the air handler) can fit on a 4×4 pallet. 
Rheia product in place


We got a big picture view of innovation within the super trade organization Synergos and their family of companies at three Lennar jobsites within the Verde Trails community. We talked strategy with three of the trade company presidents—Erickson on the enclosure, Brewer Companies on plumbing, and Austin Companies on HVAC.

We also saw seasoned pros from Brewer using information modeling and robotics to map out plumbing systems within 1/8” accuracy and got to meet a few of the next generation of talent currently in the top out program and hear more about the Brewer Craftsman Academy.

What We Heard: 

  • This is the future of construction. Advancing coordination and communication between the trades makes a world of difference  –delivering the same plan in half the time.
  • Communication is key. At Synergos, they host an all-hands weekly huddle. By talking regularly across the trades, they can find ways to do their jobs better and make things easier for each other resulting in cycle time efficiencies AND a bigger impact through refined processes. You end up with one schedule, one version of the truth and accountability to each other and the client.The sub trades feel accountable to each other. “They’re my brothers and I don’t want to let them down.” -Tim Snyder, president of Brewer Companies

    Little things help. Framers pre-drill holes for electrical and will do the same for plumbing soon.

We’re tracking a potential case study between a few of our members. Stay posted. 


At On3, residential construction’s first field-based learning and training platform that users can access entirely on mobile devices, Paul Cardis gave us a breakdown on what they’re all about –answering a variety of technical, UX and content inquiries from our group.

Then we heard first-hand why D.R. Horton chose On3 and the impact it has had on one of their east coast divisions from the company’s head of innovation. Damien McBrien, and Steve, a regional operations leader who joined us online. The company was an early adopter of the solution and has contributed extensively to On3’s content library.

On3 was NAHB’s 2022 Start-Up Zone Winner and a must-see.

Empowering those in the field with access to endless learning possibilities and technology that works (in their native language) sure does wonders for talent retention.

The group at On3

Diamond Age

Diamond Age is using next gen robotics with a goal of delivering higher quality homes, faster and more affordable. 

Their Factory in the Field® service leverages our manufacturing execution system and automation to bring industrial engineering efficiency to the job site, driving productivity and reducing construction cycle time from 9 months to 30 days.

“Diamond Age takes the dull and dangerous work out of building and handles it with robotics, leaving the high value add activities that require dexterity and decision making to people.”

They’re pulling talent from untraditional backgrounds with possibly no building experience and training employees on micro-tasks. 

Case study in the works: NREL will be evaluating the performance of two identical homes –with the same solar orientation– one built with the Diamond Age approach and on with traditional stick framing. Diamond Age believes their offering is 50-55% more efficient. 

What people are saying…

“Loved the event and collaboration. Energized and inspired! #AllianceIsAwesome​”
Ralph Baja, Century Communities

“Beyond grateful for DU and the amazing opportunities I have been provided through this program and partnership with HIA!”
Anna Mishel, Student at the University of Denver and Thrive Home Builders

“Just had a great “Road Trip” with the folks at the Housing Innovation Alliance in Scottsdale Arizona where we got to see the latest technology, processes and methods being employed. Great group of attendees, fully engaged and sharing ideas on how to help and improve the industry. If you are not a member you should really consider joining the HIA.”
Gerry McCaughey, OffSite Tek, LLC