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Industry Trend Update: Modular Construction
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December 3, 2018
Industry Trend Update: Modular Construction
Kelly Bradley
Kelly Bradley

Modular constructions go by many names: prefabricated buildings, off-site constructions, compact homes, granny flats, carriage houses, accessory dwelling units – the list goes on.

This efficient method of creating a home or building using premade pieces and structures has been around for decades, becoming popular in the 1970s. Lately, there has been a resurgence in this process, with the amount of work on prefabricated buildings nearly tripling between 2010 and 2016, and new momentum is building throughout 2018. Companies including Google, Marriott and Starbucks have already embraced modular construction, investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the building practice.

Here are three reasons why modular homes are hot again:

CATASTROPHIC WEATHER

Hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters will always be a threat to homes and buildings, and recent catastrophic weather has proved that building with resiliency in mind is more important than ever. Despite the fact that modular homes can be quickly and cheaply assembled, the structures are more durable than you may think.

Brendan O’Neill Jr., president of O’Neill Development in Gaithersburg, Md., has lived in a modular home for 19 years and has withstood weather of all types.

“My house has been through an earthquake, a derecho, a few blizzards and some wild windstorms without damage, so I know it’s solidly built,” said O’Neill.

That being said, the reputation of a modular manufacturer cannot be overstated. Make sure you’re doing your homework when looking into a manufacturer, and rely on other builders for references. It’s also a good idea to partner with a manufacturer that provides a total solution, from engineering to installation.

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HOUSING DEMAND

It’s no secret that California is going through a bit of an affordable housing crisis. On top of that, building material costs are rising, with the per-unit construction cost in San Francisco nearing $800,000.

Modular homes can be built more efficiently and affordably without skimping on durability or aesthetics. Because of this, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has committed to purchasing $100 million worth of modular housing, which is expected to not only grow the city’s housing, but create jobs as well.

The beauty of prefabricated homes is that they can be constructed to fit virtually any design a homeowner has in mind. However, that doesn’t mean elaborate is better. The simpler the home design, the lower overall costs will be.

SKILLED LABOR SHORTAGE

Due to the lack of skilled workers, builders are taking longer to complete projects, and bid prices are higher than normal. Prefabricated construction is a way to help ease those labor shortages and bring down costs in the process.

Modular construction at a factory requires less skilled labor than traditional building methods. Additionally, the construction process for these homes is for the most part fairly repetitive, and often relies on technology to get the job done. This means that virtually any worker can be trained to do any job.

Hiring factory workers vs. sending jobs to subcontractors means that as a company, you’re assuming more risk. While many see that as a bad thing, others are seeing it as an opportunity to be in control of the process.

While modular construction is definitely seeing growth, it still has a long way to go in convincing the industry to completely embrace a new way of building.

Want to know more about modular construction? Tweet your questions to us at @cbdmarketing.