Saturday, December 3, 2016

Canada's Grandeur Housing Wins Award For Katie's Cottage Project

The Katie's Cottage respite home project has garnered designer and builder Grandeur Housing located in Winkler, Manitoba, Canada,  an award of excellence from the Modular Housing Association of the Prairie Provinces.

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"Which is best in the nation, so it's pretty impressive," Jeff Enns, Director of Sales and Marketing at Grandeur Housing, explains.

However, he notes they accept the award in the Community Development category with humility, "we're very thankful... but there's a lot of thanks to everyone in the community who had involvement at every level."

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The project was announced October 2014, in February of 2016 the cottage left the factory at Grandeur Housing. In less than two years communities from across Southern Manitoba and beyond helped raise $580,000 for the project.

Randy and Ruth Reimer of Katie Cares were also heavily involved in the design process, Enns says.

"I remember calling them up and it didn't take long and they knew we could help," he says. "They're in possession of an extraordinary building."

He notes the project and award is also a great example of the quality and versatility of modular housing.

Grandeur also took home awards in the multi-family and single-family divisions, as well as industrial/commercial division.

Note to all the East Factories and builders, watch the video: It shipped in one piece!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Former Avis America Factory Could Go Up in Marijuana Smoke

A Colorado businessman is hoping the state approves his application next year which would be the first of its kind in our area.

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It's in its preliminary stages right now but some in Clinton County are optimistic that by this time next year the building will be one of 25 plants in the state.

"It's been almost empty for five years now," said Michael Flanagan of the County's Economic Partnership.

In 2012 'Avis Modular Homes' went out of business. Several businesses have moved into the building they left behind. The new owners still have most of 145,000 square feet to fill, however, a potential client is a medical marijuana processing facility.

"It's a new industry and we're on the ground level and it's exciting for Pennsylvania," said Lee Roberts, one of the new owners.

Last spring Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation legalizing the drug in the state. Christopher Woods, a Colorado cannabis businessman, is looking to capitalize on the new industry the state is now writing rules and regulations to implement it. In central Pennsylvania woods have signed a one year contingency agreement to operate at the old plant.

"He is defiantly leasing and controlling 41,000 square feet," said Roberts.  

Woods' goal is to receive one of the 25 permits statewide to grow and process the medical marijuana.

CLICK HERE to read the entire PA Homepage article and watch the video

Zekelman Industries Forms Z-Modular Commercial Structures

Zekelman Industries, headquartered in Chicago, IL, announced the formation of      Z-Modular, a new modular construction business unit. An increasing number of construction companies and engineers are exploring the use of modular construction methods to improve quality and efficiency at construction sites.

Therefore, Zekelman Industries decided to leverage its vast product portfolio and knowledge of the construction industry to create this new division to meet these new demands.

Z Modular, a division of Zekelman Industries, is a modular construction system suitable for the entire modular construction market, including multifamily residential, educational, commercial, hotel, extended care, secure care, healthcare, data center and temporary housing. It offers unique "plug and play" modules with the highest completion percentage in the industry.

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Z Modular consists of VectorBloc Corp., Z Modular Fabrication and Connexio Building Systems Inc. (Connexio). These entities will design, build and install modular construction solutions. In addition, as part of the Zekelman Industries family, Z Modular has the ability to produce and supply 90 percent of the steel-related materials used in modular units – including HSS as the structural frame of the modules, steel conduit for electrical raceway, and steel pipe for mechanical applications.

"Our investment in Z Modular is a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that we are cultivating at Zekelman Industries," said Barry Zekelman, CEO of Zekelman Industries.

Mickey McNamara will now serve as president of Z Modular, as well as maintaining his current role as executive vice president of Zekelman Industries.

"As developers, facility owners and construction companies look for new ways to reduce costs, build more efficiently, and generate revenue faster, modular construction systems are gaining more traction. Because we utilize steel in our module frames, Z Modular is uniquely positioned to help those companies realize even greater benefits and build to newer heights than traditional modular methods," said McNamara.

For more info about Z Modular, please visit z-modular.com.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Training Program Being Fast Tracked for Modular Housing Industry

On Tuesday, Dec 6th, a group of extremely knowledgeable modular industry people will meet to lay the groundwork for something our industry has never seen before; a thorough training program for new and veteran home builders and factory management and sales staffs.


They are Modcoach’s Dream Team, experts in every part of the modular building process from marketing to production to set and final finish.

Why are they doing it? So that our industry can become the best way to build new homes ever. Everyone from the most veteran factory sales rep to the newest modular builder will finally hear the same message; that "Success" is within your grasp and this team of professionals is going to work hard to help you achieve it.

Watch for an update later next week about the Modcoach Training Program

How Good Training Benefits the Modular home builder:
  • They understand the important components needed to operate their business
  • Ensures a smoother and more successful start-up
  • Knows the skills he/she should have
  • Can overcome problems and challenges that may arise
  • Provides strong sales building and marketing skills
  • Teaches ‘What works and what doesn’t”
  • Efficient operation preserves builder’s working capital
  • Increased profitability
How Good Training Benefits the Modular home factory:
  • Builders start-up their business correctly
  • Minimizes builder mistakes and the need for factory staff to intervene
  • More productive use of factory staff
  • Higher probability of more successful builders
  • Improve builder satisfaction and promote positive relations
  • Improved builder validation
  • Factory people will learn what it takes to be a successful builder
  • A better builder network
  • Creates better communication
  • Increased profitability
The 2 day training course will be offered throughout the East Coast, New England and Midwest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Millennials Unprepared for Skilled Labor Opportunities in Modular Construction

You’re a modular home builder or the Human Resource Director at a modular home factory and need to find skilled labor to keep your business operating smoothly. It used to be that all you had to do was call the employment office or place a help wanted notice in the newspaper and Voila!....applicants.

Wait a minute, that was what you did 10 years ago but not today. The skilled labor pool is aging and most have settled into a very comfortable life of full time employment. The workers that were in their late fifties and early sixties have begun to retire.


So where is the new pool of skilled labor needed by the modular housing industry?

Probably sleeping in late in their parent’s basement. Millennials, those currently between the ages of 18 and 32 have little or no interest in doing “hands on” skilled labor. High paying construction jobs are waiting for them if they could just become self motivated enough to learn how to do them.

Millennials are the most educated generation ever, but it’s taking a lot longer for them to launch their careers. What is worrisome is that many of them blame older workers still on the job; that they’re not crowding them out of the good jobs. That’s simply not true or there wouldn’t be a labor shortage.

The lockstep march from school to work and then onto retirement no longer applies to Millennials. Long-term structural economic changes have created a new phase in the transition from youth dependency to adult independence.

Millennials are launching their careers later and taking longer to get traction in careers that pay a living wage. It now takes the average young worker until age 30 to reach the middle of the wage distribution; young workers in 1980 reached the same point at age 26. Young adults’ labor force participation rate is down to its 1972 level, after 40 years of growth between 1950 and 1990.

Young men have experienced the most substantial setbacks. As their access to blue-collar occupations has declined over the past 30 years, they have been left either unable to find work or are increasingly likely to work in food, personal service, sales and office support occupations that often pay low wages. In 1980, young men earned 85 percent of the average wage in the labor market; today, they earn only 58 percent of the average wage.

The enormous declines for young men are due in part to their failure to keep up with the growing skill premium in the labor market relative to young women. Young women began enrolling in college and earning college degrees at higher rates than men in the 1990s, and the gender gap has widened in the years since.

The Housing Recession of 2007-08 had a disproportionate impact on young adults: although 18- to 29-year-olds represent only 23 percent of the workforce, they represent 36 percent of the unemployed.

Young men with only a high school education were the most vulnerable through the last decade, and continue to struggle. Between 2000 and 2012, the full-time employment rate fell from 80 percent to 65 percent for young men.

It’s not about Millennials’ culture or work ethic. They have been shielded by their parents, their teachers and their even peers from learning manual skilled labor, which usually pays a lot more than working at Starbucks. Vo-Tech schools in many states are being repurposed as incubator schools for music and art, software and app program and other speciality fields.

For older adults, the long-term trends are more encouraging. Life expectancy at age 65 has increased and health outcomes have generally improved. Older adults’ employment rate, wages, income and wealth levels have risen over the past three decades, especially for college-educated adults. Many of these older adults have also shifted out of blue-collar occupations into high-paying managerial or professional office, STEM, and healthcare professional and technical occupations.

You would think the Millennials would be rushing in to fill these empty slots but are not as they have never been expected to do manual labor.

In the end, young adults need more education and training — something the U.S. post-secondary system seems curiously bad at delivering.

The labor shortage isn’t that there are not enough people to fill the slots, it’s because we have raised a generation that has not been exposed to manual labor, are untrained for it and have been told they will be looked down on if they ‘settle’ for production work.


Breaking this attitude will not be easy.

Can Modular Construction Explode the Tiny Home Movement?

The tiny house movement has swept the country. There are TV shows dedicated to it, blogs that rave about it, and people that are drawn to it to find a way to live more economically. Tiny homes are typically broken down into two types, mobile and permanent. Many of the shows on TV do a walk along with a couple that are looking to downsize and someone takes them to three different tiny homes on wheels to see which one they like the best. They are usually built on a tandem axle trailer frame and average 8’ wide by 16-20’ long. That means about 128 – 160 sq ft of living space.

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The permanent tiny homes can be larger. Many definitions exist on how big a tiny home can be and still be tiny. The consensus seems to be that about 250 – 450 sq ft is the maximum size. That still isn’t much space to get living, bathing, and eating accomplished in one shelter. The limitation in size has sparked the creativity of many consumers and handymen alike to find unique ways to accomplish everything under one roof. The biggest limiting issue: tiny homes don’t meet any existing building or construction code.

MODULAR CONSTRUCTION

If Tiny Homes are included in an upcoming version of the IRC code, modular construction is the perfect way to mass produce code compliant units. Think about the current method of production. Tiny homes are currently built in sheds and in backyards. There is no standard code so there are no inspections. Who knows how they are wired and how well they are built. Life/Safety issues can become a concern. How is waste disposed of or stored? Health issues can also be a concern. If tiny homes are included in a building code, they can then be inspected to that code. If that code classifies them as permanent living space per the IRC, then they can be included as primary residences and then start to be assimilated into zoning ordinances.

Modular construction is the perfect way to build tiny homes. Consumers would know that tiny homes were being designed and built to a defined building code. Inspections would take place in a factory to confirm that they met that code. The personal safety of the buyer and their family would be enhanced because standards would be adhered to by professional builders. The costs of tiny homes would come down considerably. The assembly line process of production in most modular factories would mean that homes could be produced at a consistent level of quality, and both quickly and cost-effectively.


CLICK HERE to read the entire Express Modular Blog article. It’s a good read.

Building Systems Councils Introduces “The Lounge” at IBS 2017

The Building Systems Councils Lounge, a new hot spot at the 2017 International Builders’ Show focused on all things building systems, will host more than a dozen events, including a wide variety of instructive, education sessions and a few networking opportunities.

Stop by Tuesday through Thursday (Jan. 10-12) for catered breakfast and lunch, and a wide range of formal and informal “talks” about home building, like When Banks Go Boutique: Specialized Financing & One-Time Close Construction Loans, Panelized Construction 360, Building Systems from a Builder's Perspective, Home Warranties & Risk Management, and Builder Insight: Finding Success with Modular the First Time.

The Building Systems Councils will also host two networking opportunities during the show. Visit the BSC Lounge on Tuesday from 3-5 p.m. to meet some of the top manufacturers, builders and suppliers of systems built housing while enjoying complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

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Professional Builder Show Village 55+ Modular Home Rendering by Jim Chapman Communities

On Wednesday from 4–6 p.m. come by the Professional Builder Show Village to participate in a free networking reception co-hosted with the 55+ Council. At the Show Village, show attendees will have the unique opportunity to tour a modular home designed for the 55+ market by renowned builder Jim Chapman Homes.


CLICK HERE for more information about the BSC “Lounge”

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Saratoga Homes Opens the Doors to One of Their New Modulars for Us

Cecil Provost of Saratoga Modular Homes just couldn’t wait any longer. He sent me several homes that his company has built in the upper New York state area.

Saratoga Modular Homes specializes in the design and construction of custom modular homes, multifamily and commercial projects.  They are a sister company to Saratoga Construction LLC, one of the leading home builders in Upstate New York, and offer complete turn-key construction service from Albany NY to Lake George and the southern Adirondacks, and west to Amsterdam and the Great Sacandaga Lake.

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This beautiful completely custom modular home built by Westchester Homes is a little over 1,800 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Check out the unique mouldings throughout, upgraded Merillat cabinetry and Andersen windows.

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My favorite part of the home is the knotty pine sunporch that was built on site.

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CLICK HERE for a unique way Saratoga Homes showcases their craftsmanship.

Big US Trailer Park Operator Set to Invade Australia


Hometown America, the major manufactured home park operator is believed to be poised to put Australia's modular housing industry into play, with Hometown America tipped to be planning a takeover bid for Gateway Lifestyle and Ingenia Communities in an upcoming deal that could create a $1 billion-plus Australian behemoth.

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It is also uncertain whether the group is looking at buying both targets and merging them or owning only one, although many believe bringing the $463 million Ingenia and $643.7m Gateway together makes sense due to the synergistic benefits.

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The manufactured/modular housing sector in Australia remains highly attractive to American groups that have the expertise running trailer parks and are eager to consolidate the Australian market.

The Hometown America owns a portfolio of about 60 estates in the US and is funded by the Washington State Pension fund, which already owns interests in Australian student accommodation provider Urbanest.

Hometown’s Australian subsidiary — Hometown Australia — established an operation here several months ago headed by former Colliers International executive Stuart Strong, with the group targeting assets to buy in NSW, although no investments have yet been made.

This Modular Home Design Needs a Reality Check

Don’t get me wrong, I love new designs and innovations in modular construction and some of what the following article in the Los Angeles Times could possibly become at least optional in our future but I have my doubts. I just want to poke little fun at the thought of these homes actually being taken seriously.

KB Home, the visionary behind this beautiful and yet strange modular home has lost sight of their market the same way the media and pollsters did in the recent Presidential election.

As you read the LA Times article, a couple of fundamental flaws appear. These homes will be designed for use mainly by Millennials, the poorest age bracket yet.

Here are a couple of questions that need answered after reading the article:
  • KB Home will build these in communities and with land getting scarcer the thought of not having a car but rather using Uber seems very unappealing.
  • Chutes built into the house where Amazon’s drones can deliver packages. Don’t forget the Domino and Pizza Hut drones. I don’t think your pizza will survive the chute experience.
  • Movable walls inside your home to adapt to your changing needs. HELLO! Load bearing.
  • Can we really grow food on the walls like the article suggests? Not me. I can only eat so much kale and herbs.

The only statement in the article that has an overwhelming ring of truth is
“But American homeowners tend to be cautious about adopting new innovations and are even less inclined toward expensive ones.”

Here is the LA Times article:

Home builder sees a future with movable walls and garage-less houses

Builder sees a future with movable walls and garage-less houses

By Tiffany Hsu

In the future, most homes won’t have garages because their owners won’t own cars. Rooms can be reconfigured by pushing the walls. Postal service or bike couriers might not be necessary -- drones will handle many package and take-out deliveries.

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At least, that’s KB Home’s vision. As part of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo last month, the home builder imagined residential living circa 2050 by constructing an 1,800-square-foot model home in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The sleek concept includes cutting-edge Jetsons technology. But much of the innovation is also based on major changes in demographics and social attitudes.

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The three-car garage — once a conspicuous signal of homeowner prosperity — will become a rarity, as driving yourself is replaced by on-demand travel via Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing options, KB Home predicts. Car owners will have charging stations for their Teslas and other electric vehicles.

To account for future drone delivery services, such as the kind Amazon.com is testing, KB Home dreamed up a secure drop box paired with a landing pad. Drones would ping the home’s smart network to open a chute, then drop packages in.

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Internally, the concept home incorporates a modular design. Walls can be moved along tracks to convert spaces. Certain components — counters, bars, even full bathrooms — will eventually be prefabricated and dropped into homes as easily as ink cartridges into a printer, designers said.

Modularity gives residents options in limited spaces.


CLICK HERE to read the entire LA Times article