Feature Article /
Feb 7, 2019

27 Innovative Building Products That are Disrupting the Industry

LeakSmart System

The LeakSmart Snap is a whole-home system that detects water leaks or pipe-freezing temperatures, shuts off the home’s supply, and alerts homeowners via a smart device in less than 5 seconds. It installs quickly, the company says, without the need to cut into the main water supply line. A Hub extends the protection, even during power outages.

It wasn't so long ago that the way we built houses was very different. Sure, some things are still the same, but we’ve moved on from many old construction techniques, methods, and tools.

Today, OSB or plywood is the primary sheathing for roofs and walls, as opposed to strips of solid wood. We no longer build our doors with solid wood, otherwise they’d warp like crazy; single-pane windows are (largely) a thing of the past; and modern cordless tools offer enough juice to be the primary option on a jobsite.

Things have changed for homeowners, too. They are now able to manage their electricity use with an energy monitoring system. Owners can see who is at their door and can adjust their home’s thermostat, even if the homeowner is halfway around the world.

Milwaukee Tool Fuel Hackzall cordless


According to the company, the M18 Fuel Hackzall is the first brushless, 18-volt one-handed reciprocating saw on the market. Combined with a 7/8-inch stroke length, the tool can deliver up to 180 cuts in a 2x4 and over 220 cuts in 3/4-inch EMT, the company says.


The common thread in all of these advances is innovation—in technology, manufacturing, and construction. It’s what happens in every industry, and home building is no different.

Innovation is so important that the National Association of Home Builders has two programs that recognize outstanding products and systems. One, the Global Innovation Award, annually recognizes the most cutting-edge, advanced, and original product offerings submitted by global member companies that offer products to the building industry in the U.S. Additionally, the association recognizes the most innovative products at the International Builders’ Show. The mission is to find the most inventive offerings in nine categories.

We have our own tradition here at PRODUCTS: the annual Innovation Issue. We try to look for the coolest products to feature every month, but for this issue, we look for those that offer just a bit more.

This month, we’ve found a biometric padlock you can open with a fingerprint, a newly developed foam-based siding, a home energy monitoring system, and much more.

As usual, we don’t expect you to use all of these products, and some may not even be right for your buyers. But as innovation in the industry continues apace, it’s important to stay informed. Your business depends on it.




The K7 kitchen island by designer Kai Stania provides a height-adjustable work surface designed to benefit all users. The island can function as a sideboard in its lowered position or be turned into a bar by raising the work surface. In one movement, the island’s height can be adjusted from 29 inches to 44.8 inches.


Taplock smart lock


The manufacturer says this is the world’s first padlock to use a fingerprint scanner to open it. Capacitive technology can store up to 500 fingerprints, and an app tracks who opened the lock and when.

Brizo Concrete Vettis faucet



Vettis, the manufacturer says, is the first faucet on the market that is made from concrete. Part of a limited edition of just 500, it’s made from ultra-highperformance, fiber-reinforced concrete and a titrated infusion of pure charcoal to give the faucet its signature hue. Vettis is WaterSense-certified, flowing at 1.2 gallons per minute.

Boise Cascade AJS 24 FMJ I-Joist


The AJS 24 FMJ is a one-step I-joist for unfinished residential basements. Ready for easy installation immediately upon arrival at the jobsite, the unit features a foil-faced insulation board for fire-resistance. Web holes for plumbing runs can be cut in the same manner as for non-protected joists.

Elkay Crosstown Apron-Front sink in rose gold


Crosstown is a stainless steel farmhouse sink with interchangeable apron fronts, giving homeowners the fl exibility to change the color and material. Made from 16-gauge stainless steel, the sink has tight interior corners, sound-dampening pads, an offset drain, and creased lines in the sink bottom to help with drainage.

Sto Corp RapidGuard


RapidGuard is a single-component air barrier and waterproofing material that seals rough openings, seams, sheathing joints, cracks, penetrations, and transitions in above-grade wall construction. Fast-drying and flexible, it adheres to damp substrates and can be installed in near-freezing temperatures, the company says.

Uponor Phyn Plus leak detector


The Phyn Plus smart-water assistant and shutoff is a new monitoring system that automatically measures tiny changes in water pressure—240 times per second—to alert homeowners the moment a leak is detected. An intelligent water monitoring system, it attaches to the home’s main water line.

Andersen Windows easy connect joining system


The Easy Connect Joining System makes it easier for contractors to install window combinations, allowing them to join large windows using less labor on site. A traditional 8-foot-by-12-foot window combo, for example, can be delivered to the site in four individual combinations of two units, each weighing 135 pounds, the company says.

Modern Forms Wynd Fan


Wynd is a smart ceiling fan that offers adaptive learning. It suggests optimized schedules for use and has a DC motor that’s 70 percent more efficient than a traditional AC fan. Measuring 52 inches, the fan comes in four weather-resistant finishes.


Nigel Maynard

Nigel F. Maynard is the Editor of PRODUCTS. 

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