Design Trends

The Light: Six Factors to Consider for Offsite Construction

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Three catalysts—code adoption, credibility, and competitive pressure—are driving offsite construction forward. Here are six factors that will help you decide if offsite is right for you. These conclusions come from a New Home Trends Institute webinar where we hosted with four experts with a wide variety of expertise in offsite construction:

  • 3D Printed Net Zero HomesMighty Buildings, a venture-backed builder of homes and accessory dwelling units.
  • Offsite Framing and AssemblyEntekra, which is partially owned by Louisiana Pacific and used by DR Horton, Lennar, KBHome, Beazer, Van Daele and others.
  • Offsite Framing and Volumetric Modular AssemblyPrecision Building Systems, which builds 100+ homes/month as part of Berkshire Hathaway.
  • Production HousingVan Metre Homes, a production home builder with significant plant operations.

Six factors to consider

  1. Your desire to control the building process. The more you control in the construction process (from initial design to the field), the more you control your own destiny. This is especially important with today’s supply chain issues. Consider moving one piece of the process from “subcontracted” to “self-performing” per quarter.
  2. Your emphasis on speed and quality. Offsite and prefab methods address speed, labor quality, and construction quality issues. Modular brings you speed but also creates logistical challenges.
  3. Your financial analysis, which needs to consider build time. The direct cost of offsite will be higher than traditional stick framing. However, those costs are made up in speed to market, less waste, eliminated scaffolding, and more. Speed to market is one reason single family build-for-rent will likely be a likely driver of offsite, since speedy construction results in quicker leasing.
  4. Your relationships with inspectors and permit authorizers. Building good relationships and fostering clear communication with municipalities (state and local), underwriters, and code officials will impact your success.
  5. Your location. Offsite construction requires careful logistical coordination between where pieces are built and where they are set. Proximity to offsite plants should be a determining factor.
  6. Your emphasis on the environment. Offsite can impact the environment in numerous ways, including reduced waste, reduced noise on site, safer work environment, and healthier air quality (from less dust being kicked up). If sustainability is a focus area right now, industrialized construction in some form may be a solution.

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