Prediction 2010: New Home Construction Shifts from Job Site to Factory
Within the next 10 years pre-fabricated modular homes are going to take over the housing industry. Wait, before you start yelling, let me offer at least a brief explanation.
A perfect storm of changes
The whole industry is in a slump, we all know that. But it will rebound, and when it does, there will be more demand for a higher quality product. As energy costs increase and the existing housing stock dwindles, the average potential home buyer will want a house that’s well-built, energy-efficient, and affordable. The days of the big-box McMansion are coming to an end.
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At the same time, more stringent energy codes will be here before you know it, forcing builders and developers of junk houses to put up or shut down. And the pool of experienced labor will continue to shrink as fast as the concept of a house as a complex of interdependent systems grows.
A glimpse at the future
And it’s starting already, albeit in dribs and drabs. (The slowdown hasn’t been much help to emerging companies.) People like Michelle Kaufmann/Blu Home, Resolution: 4, Rocio Romero and Bensonwood are just a quick sample of the people that are turning to a modern way of building. Why? It’s faster, the quality control is better so the product is better, and it costs less. It’s just what struggling builders and homeowners need.
Here’s what timberframer Tedd Benson has to say:
“In the next five years, there will be a huge transition on building sites where cutting and shaping will be rapidly eliminated, being replaced by value-added construction components, products and systems that will have been off-site cut, shaped and/or prefabricated, leaving the building site for assembly and installation only.
“I think this much is as inevitable as was the transition to off-site cabinets, windows, pre-hung doors and trusses. What is in question is the form that this pre-fabrication will take and what solutions will predominate. Answering that question is one of the biggest opportunities ever to come to the homebuilding industry.”
The notion of building a house by hand on-site is, in a lot of ways, a romance whose flame has died. There will always be a place for skilled people to build shelter, but the time will come when most of us won’t be able to afford to ignore a better house.