BONE Structure
A steel construction firm for custom Net Zero ready homes
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Marc-André and Charles Bovet at the BONE Structure launch event in San Fransisco
BONE Structure is a design firm and construction materials company that specializes in custom single-family homes. With air-tight insulation and efficient construction, all BONE Structure homes are “Net Zero ready,” meaning building residents can conserve energy and ultimately produce more than they consume. BONE Structure’s system eliminates waste and reduces errors during construction; the steel parts are made to order and laser-cut to fit together like lego pieces. The company both provides end-to-end design and construction for clients building custom homes and supplies their materials and technology to other architecture firms. We talked to Charles Bovet, BONE Structure’s VP of Operations and manager of the San Francisco office.
60
employees
10
years old
~40
ongoing projects in California
Software used
Wrike
Project management
Wrike is a cloud-based project management web app. BONE Structure uses Wrike to manage tasks across functions (for engineering, marketing, design, etc).
SketchUp
3D design sketching
SketchUp is a user-friendly desktop app that lets people draw in 3D. BONE Structure’s architects use SketchUp to ideate and visualize design ideas for clients in the early stages of a project.
Revit by Autodesk
Building information modelling
Revit is a desktop app that is popular among architects. The “smart” product uses Building Information Modelling (BIM) to update dynamically and render 3D/2D blueprints for the construction team.
Inventor by Autodesk
Materials planning and generating building instructions
Bovet’s team has developed custom software on top of Inventor to accurately estimate cost, print a list of required materials, and generate an instruction manual for builders assembling the parts. The software is central to BONE Structure technology. Bovet hopes to improve the building instructions in the future by making them more visual and dynamic and reducing the possibility of error.
3DS Max by Autodesk
3D modelling and rendering
BONE Structure’s clients can visualize design proposals in high-fidelity 3D using VR headsets.
HubSpot
Marketing automation
BONE Structure’s brand marketing team uses HubSpot to analyze customer behavior on the website, increase conversions, and store user info.
Q&A
What are some of the main problems and challenges that you face?

Scaling to developer: BONE Structure specializes in building single family homes, but Bovet said he wants to get more land developer clients. The firm is shifting their operations to better serve developers, who care more about fast, predictable construction than customization and personal service.

Focus: Bovet says that he sees many future opportunities for vertical integration and optimization, but has to maintain the team’s focus on the core business to support growth.

Construction labor shortage: Since there is a shortage of construction workers in North America and Europe, BONE Structure’s process is designed to reduce labor requirements. Bovet hopes that the BONE Structure process can continue to cut human labor costs to avoid the rising price.

Julia and Eric's Ideas / Commentary
Generate better construction guides
BONE Structure’s software breaks down engineering specs into instructions for the construction team. Bovet said he hopes to develop features in the future that allow site managers to divide into instructions with the right level of granularity (depending on the number of builders on site) and distribute the work digitally. Bovet also hopes to move away from numbers (specifications for width, dimensions, etc) and towards a more visual, less error-prone instruction set.
Identify low-cost design improvements
The BONE Structure system allows architects to experiment with design/budget tradeoffs. For example, property owners might learn that doubling the height of their windows is very inexpensive, or removing one foot of space from a room would save tens of thousands of dollars. Is it possible to identify these opportunities using Revit files? Software that uses engineering systems to detect construction opportunities might help architects design better, less expensive homes.
Shipping optimization
BONE Structure has 12 manufacturing centers across North America, and shipping costs for steel parts are expensive. The company currently outsources shipping logistics, but Bovet thinks there is opportunity to cut costs significantly with smarter steel fulfillment processes.