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Technology Transfer, Communication Outreach

PATH/HomeBase Expands Services for Builders/Remodelers

A new menu of NAHB Research Center HOMEBASE services significantly increases builder and remodeler access to the latest information on innovative building materials, processes and systems. PATH supported enhancements of HOMEBASE Services include expansion and changes in the HOMEBASE’s web site, hotline, technical newsletter and CD-ROM and Catalog of Building Products and Services.

The Research Center is developing a subject-oriented, annotated description of web site locations to help builders and remodelers find useful information. It is also building a comprehensive construction industry search engine; regular e-mail technical updates by topic using "list servers" technology; "expert systems" that enable web visitors to tap the knowledge and experience of top researchers as well as the latest research results; and a news service reporting the latest building research and testing results directly to trade, real estate, local home builder associations editors.

HOMEBASE’s online "Ask An Expert" service, which enables a builder to report a problem via the web site and receive technical advice directly by phone or email, is being expanded. Similarly, HOMEBASE is increasing the number of topics covered in its Technical Bulletins series -- information sheets accessible by email or fax. HOMEBASE is also starting online forums, moderated by technical experts, covering such PATH goals as advanced energy efficient and renewable energy technologies, quality management in construction, construction safety and health and alternative materials evaluation.

The NAHB Research Center is investigating the possibility of increasing the frequency of its HOMEBASE News publication from quarterly to six to 12 issues annually as well as changing its format from four pages to six or eight pages. It is also sending mailings to Home Builder Association executive officers at least three times per year notifying them of particularly useful technical information available through HOMEBASE and the PATH program. It also is issuing press releases and public service announcement mailings promoting the "HOMEBASE," web site and PATH activities mailings to the 800 state and local builder association newsletters and magazines.

The revamped HOMEBASE web site contains PATH’s Technology Inventory, a comprehensive list of emerging technologies, and its "Innovations in Use" listing, currently more than 30 case histories of outstanding housing projects where innovative technologies were used. Visitors to the PATH web site, where the two sectors were previously featured, will be able to access them via an electronic link to the HOMEBASE web site.

HOMEBASE also publishes its Catalog of Building Products and Services, currently in CD ROM format, on the Internet. The NAHB Research Center conducts regular customer surveys to evaluate the usefulness of the new programs to the builder community. An annual survey of computer usage by builders, remodelers and contractors provides information on what percentage of the building community is using computers to acquire information online.