by Dylan Snyder
Affordable housing is a problem with no simple solutions, but the divide has never been more apparent than it is today. One trend on affordable housing advocates’ radars is that more groups and cities are turning toward modular home construction to combat these issues. The efficiency of this type of building method is such that more homes can be built for less money in a shorter amount of time, and many are starting to see the long-term potential in this process.
A Better Way to Build
There are a lot of challenges with traditional building methods today. However, with these challenges come technological breakthroughs and disruptions that push the industry forward. From brick-laying robots to 3D printed homes, the groundbreaking options are truly turning science fiction into reality. Modular construction is the process of building the pieces of a home or building in a controlled environment before quickly assembling them on site. It puts less focus on the actual building site and more on producing general building components that can fit a number of different buildings. When applied to homes, the results may not feature vaulted ceilings and a formal ballroom but it will be a stable structure that can stand up against the elements.
Materials for the home aren’t assembled on a construction site, where weather, vandalism, and workman error can threaten their integrity at any moment. Instead, they are assembled indoors where the production can be supervised at all times. This quality assurance speeds up both the building process as well as the approval times of the building. Decision makers have a better idea what to look for because there’s a uniformity to the buildings. The faster builders can finish modular home construction, the more affordable housing can be offered during a homelessness crisis.
Faster, Cheaper, Smarter
When construction companies can control their environment, they can work out smarter techniques to get the job done. Modular construction doesn’t require as much customization as a custom home, so builders can use familiar and relatively simple equipment to scale their operations. This efficiency allows home buyers additional options for investing in real estate, in terms of price and product. They can churn out the same pieces for a variety of buildings, meet their daily production goals, and eliminate the more common delays associated with on-site construction. This reduces labor costs and brings down the overall costs of building projects.
Better for the Environment
Modular construction is all about efficiency, which means there’s less energy wasted during production. Any waste that’s generated is generally either reused or recycled for other projects. There are 135 million tons of waste that end up in landfills every year courtesy of traditional home construction sites, but modular construction can reduce this number if it’s implemented at a global level. Everyone may want to solve the problem of homelessness quickly, but ideally, it should be done without harming the environment. Portland, Oregon has already implemented sustainable apartments that only cost $40,000 a unit (with furnishings!)
A Surge in Adoption
The popularity of modular methods are truly making headlines. The Fails Management Institute (FMI) reported that more than a third of contractors in the US are using modular construction during the design phases of their buildings, and 40% of contractors plan to implement modular construction in future projects. Healthcare facilities especially are seeing significant rates of growth in modular, but cities are also implementing them for homeless people as well.
Los Angeles, Seattle, and Vancouver are just a few cities that have either concept projects or plans in the works to use modular construction for their homeless populations. Whether they’re concentrating on homeless veterans or the general population, it’s a strong sign that we’re moving in the right direction.
Dylan Snyder is a team leader and real estate consultant at The Snyder Group. Dylan is interested in the evolution of technology in the real estate industry and likes to write about how these advancements can benefit society at large.