Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hospitals Begin Investigating Modular Construction

Due to growing patient numbers and lack of space, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are now turning to modular buildings as fully functional extensions of their existing limited spaces.

These needs are currently being met by the commercial relocatable modular buildings one usually sees set up beside schools as classrooms. The future however will find hospitals, nursing homes, medical centers and clinics turning to permanent high rise structures of light gauge steel and wood construction.

Research into bringing modular into the medical arena has found that using modular can cut up to 30% off the normal time to build a facility. In the medical industry, this acceleration in launch can mean the difference between life and death for patients who need immediate assistance.

Because off-site manufacturing is more effective than fabrication on a build site, lean production techniques can cut down waste production.

Just like the major hotel companies have found real benefits in using both LGS and wood modular construction to bring new hotels on line faster and begin producing revenue by having the factory install all the furniture and furnishing on the production line, hospitals and nursing homes will be looking for the same thing.

Temporary modular structures have been used for years by the medical industry and will continue to be for quite some time, however the idea of using permanent modular buildings up to 7 stories high is relatively new.

The municipal public healthcare system NYC Health + Hospitals used modular technology to construct a $28 million, two-story ambulatory-care facility on Staten Island using modular units made in Pennsylvania. It’s the second modular project after the system replaced a Brooklyn healthcare clinic in 2012 that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

The future of modular construction is really not changing. Rather it is expanding beyond housing and temporary modular structures into entire new industries like hotels, hospitals, long term care, office complexes and more.

Modular apartment buildings have been with us for quite some time and D R Horton is experimenting with modular construction as are the Clayton acquired large regional home builders.

Our industry will quickly be needing new production facilities to meet the possibilities coming our way but getting a factory up and running is not easy. These new factories can’t be started on a shoestring as some have tried doing lately. They will require large sums of money, a pool of talented people and an innovative leader. Maybe even a disruptive leader or two.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tedd Benson Opens New Panel Plant in New Hampshire

Bensonwood and its sister company, Unity Homes, celebrated the grand opening of its new panel production facility in Keene, New Hampshire, on April 20. According to the company, more than 200 guests came for the celebration from as far away as Germany, Tennessee and Utah. The production facility produces insulated enclosure systems for high performance buildings.

Company founder and steward Tedd Benson summed up the significance of the new facility: “This facility heralds a new era in our ongoing quest to demonstrate a better way to build,” he said. “It builds on the foundation of experience and know-how that we have developed over decades, and it positions us to remain a leader in housing innovation for many years to come.”

Bensonwood, in the business of building off-site high-end custom homes and non-residential buildings for the past 45 years, will use the new facility to better serve commercial clients and the multifamily sector, in addition to the single family custom home market. Unity Homes, a six-year-old spinoff of Bensonwood that was founded to bring high performance homes to a broader market, will realize similar benefits from the new facility. As demand for Unity Homes has grown, the need for increased production capability has become increasingly apparent. Unity will utilize the manufacturing facility to serve more clients in a wider range of markets, including residential developments of high performance homes.

“Between this new building enclosure facility, our timber fabrication, architectural millwork, and our design expertise, we are now uniquely positioned in the building market,” continued Benson. “We offer a range of service that is unparalleled in North America.”

The manufacturing lines at the newly opened facility use automated equipment from Germany, Austria and France while the timber fabrication equipment, located at their Walpole, New Hampshire facility, is a robotic timber processing machine from Germany. Its precision, six-axis capability and machine efficiency expands the capabilities to work with mass timber and larger timber frame structures.

Once the components of the home or building are manufactured at the facility, they are transported and assembled on-site using a construction system they call “Montage,” as opposed to modular or prefab. This method, according to the company, removes time and costs from building design and construction; Bensonwood has been successfully using its method of off-site manufacturing and Montage construction for its custom homes for decades.

In addition to expanding production capacity, both Bensonwood and Unity Homes plan to expand the scope of work that is completed in the facility prior to being sent to the job site. In the near future, wall panels will be sent to job sites with wiring and siding preinstalled, and eventually completed bathrooms will be delivered as “pods”, or pre-built volumes.

“It just makes sense that siding would be installed here in the shop, rather than by someone dangling off a ladder on a job site,” explained Benson. “And that bathrooms would be completed on an efficient assembly line, rather than in the chaos found on most job sites.”

Newest Jobs Available in Modular Housing Industry

Spring is definitely here and the amount of factory positions available are popping up as fast my tulips.

These available jobs are from Robert Sage Careers.

Visit their website at
or email them at

Modular/Business Development Manager/S.W.
Modular/HUD/Production Supervisor/S.W.
Modular/Territory Sales/N.E.
Modular/Production/ Operations/N.E.
Modular/P.E. Third Party Technical Director/Midwest
Modular/Account Executive/S.E.
Modular/Account Executive/S.E.
Modular/Designer Sales Estimator/S.W.
Modular/Lead Designer/S.W.
Modular/HUD/Production Supervisors/S.W
Modular/HUD/QC Inspector/S.W.
Modular/HUD/Assistant PM/S.W.
Modular/HUD/Assistant PM/S.W.
Modular/HUD/Production Supervisor/West Coast
Modular/Sales Associate Retail/South
Modular/BD Major Projects (2)/N.E.
Modular/Drafter AutoCAD/N.E.
Modular/General Manager/West

Monday, April 23, 2018

Revolution Precrafted Lands $300 million Caribbean Deal

Last October I wrote an article about Revolution Prefabricated homes, a Philippine modular company becoming the first Unicorn.

The term unicorn is used to describe startups that have achieved a valuation of over $1 billion.

Today Revolution Precrafted announced an exclusive $300,000,000 deal with NOVO Development, a Caribbean-based real estate firm that operates in the island nations of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.

This is just Phase One of a $1 billion project.

Established in December 2015, Revolution Precrafted sells highly customized prefabricated properties, including pavilions, homes, condos, hotels, adaptive amenity spaces, transportable restaurants, pop-up retail shops, gyms, and even customized clamping that can be ordered on the company’s website.

This follows a $1.2 billion project in Myanmar and a $3.2 billion deal to build luxury homes and apartments in Dubai.

Not too shabby for a company that is only a little over 2 years old!

Last I heard they have begun signing contracts with several US developers to build large commercial projects and housing.

Top 5 Most Read Articles for March

The top articles for March all centered around what our industry is currently doing and what is possible in the future. CLICK on the title to visit the full article

Many of the problems we hear about and actually see on job sites, both offsite and site built, is the poor quality of standard SPF #2.

Many tract builders, the folks that should really be embracing modular home construction, always play the “Delivering Empty Space” card as a their excuse for not using modular.

Although most of the time a builder receives a home built just as ordered from the factory without major problems, there are some cases where a new builder takes delivery of a home that probably should have never left the factory gates. Is it a matter of quality, miscommunication between parties, or the lack of a good order processing policy? The question of quality control from the modular home factory comes up with every new home delivered to a builder starting with a new builders first modular home delivery.

2,200 sq ft and climbing!

The size of the average new site built home.

However there is a small but rapidly growing new home buyer segment that is looking to go smaller; the empty nest Boomer and the Millennial buyers.

After 2000 a new breed of modular home builders came into the market, the site builder that switched to modular. Buyers were beginning to ask, no demand, changes to the factory’s basic plans and management was more than happy to meet those demands.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Roger Lyons Part of Prefab Logic’s Startup Services for Modular Manufacturing Plants

Prefab Logic, a leader in volumetric modular construction, has launched services that help startups develop best-in-class modular manufacturing plants.

Roger Lyons, Prefab Logic

Rick Murdock and Roger Lyons, founder of Penn-Lyon Homes in Selinsgrove, PA, in-house manufacturing experts at Prefab Logic, have developed many volumetric modular factory operations worldwide. In the face of a vast increase in modular building projects, Prefab Logic is now offering services to design and build new factories and meet surging needs outpacing current capacity.

Murdock co-founded Prefab Logic after decades on both sides of the industry—factory operations and construction site. The firm hired Lyons last year to add extensive manufacturing expertise.

“Most early factories were designed for movable structures,” Murdock adds. “Today, the vast difference in the type of modular construction needed along with the labor challenges we face dictate more progressive design and layouts. We can help owners avoid common pitfalls.”

Murdock and Lyons recently completed the Factory_OS facility on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. The Prefab Logic team brought the expertise needed to turn a former US naval facility into the modular factory of the future. According to the San Francisco Business Times, Factory_OS is fully booked for the first year, with projects including studios for formerly homeless people in Oakland, 110 new apartments in West Oakland, and 300 homes for Google parent-company Alphabet.

CLICK HERE for more information

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lennar First to Build New Homes' Tech Around Alexa

Lennar announces that Estancia, a new community of upscale townhouses and single family homes is coming to the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay Area peninsula and at the heart of Silicon Valley.

These homes provide a great location close to major technology employers including Google. Each of these new homes also showcase Lennar's new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ home design which offers built-in wireless access points for commercial-strength Wi-Fi in every room.

Lennar's Everything's Included® program also provides a high level of features and upgrades that come as standard. These include quartz kitchen countertops, stainless steel appliances, designer-selected cabinetry and the latest in home automation features and technology from Ruckus®, Samsung SmartThings®, Ring® Video Doorbell, Honeywell programmable thermostat and more, that can all be voice controlled through Amazon Alexa!

PA Loses Another Modular Home Factory

Foremost Industries’ modular home and panel/truss plants near Greencastle Pa were sold recently but not to as a modular home factory.

Pennsylvania Cherry LLC closed on the purchase of the 52-acre parcel with three large buildings on March 30 and hopes to begin operations by January 2019. The company plans to hire 42 employees over the next three years.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Community Development said Pennsylvania Cherry's investment will total $15 million with land and building acquisition, infrastructure development, machinery and equipment purchase and job training.

Pennsylvania Cherry will receive cherry boards from mills throughout a five-state supply area, then grade and kiln-dry it and package it for shipment to China. The market for cherry in the United States is nominal however, in China, they really like cherry.

Proximity to ports in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York helped to draw the company to Franklin County.

The former Foremost property had been the subject of a legal battle over the sale of the company in 2016 and the ensuing bankruptcy complicated and delayed the purchase.

With modular’s growing popularity, especially for commercial work, it’s too bad this ‘ready to go’ factory and the accompanying panel and truss plant wasn’t snatched up for modular major hotel and apartment business. I guess investing in the future of our industry is still not a major priority.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When Will Horton Hear a Modular Who?

On Monday I posted a request for people in our industry to make suggestions about improving it. As I suspected most of the suggestions centered on what the modular home factory folks should do and only a couple of suggestions for builders.

Getting everyone on the same page is tough in this industry.

Here are some of the suggestions and for what it’s comments.

1. Eliminate the HUD mentality from the modular production: "On the floor and out the door."

Modcoach: Since our industry was founded by HUD oriented owners, that still follows us today. This is not a bad thing overall but it does make innovation in modular housing confined to what we have always done.

2. Eliminate the lack of promotion. Get out of your chair and out in the field. Make the phone ring instead of waiting for a sales call to come in.

Modcoach: In years past this was all we had. Today social media reaches millions of potential customers faster than any regional print, radio or TV marketing effort ever could. If you don’t have a social media person on board doing blogs, video and social media marketing, you will never reach the tech-connected new home buyer. You are “the who that Horton” needs to hear.

3. Eliminate the "It's a mobile home" mentality. Talk to your local municipalities and introduce them to the modular world that is great for vacant lots, in-fill projects and multi-family housing. If need be, invite them for a plant tour, including the Council, development services, inspectors, and zoning personnel. Yes, I work for a municipality. Yes, I came from the modular world. Yes, I have promoted and permitted 3 modular in 9 months, while previous administrations permitted none in 10 years.

Modcoach: This is exactly what needs to happen especially in the East. Between the media pushing ‘modular’ as the future and you introducing local building and zoning officials to the factory we can begin making vast headway to total acceptance.

4. Factories need to join the BSC and the MHBA

Modcoach: While currently focusing mostly on the East Coast and New England regions, both of these organizations need everyone’s help. If you don’t belong to at least one of them, you are missing something whose time has come

5. Builders need to stop expecting the factories to be the source of leads and marketing for them

Modcoach: I can’t believe builders are still looking to factories for all their leads. That ship has sailed. Today it’s the builder’s responsibility to generate their own leads. I can still remember the good old days when factories would send out leads galore to every builder and weeks later nobody had even reached out to them.

6. Factories need to improve their service departments right now

Modcoach: Builders have been complaining about service since the first modular home was delivered over 50 years ago. Jesus was a carpenter and I would bet that even he got complaints about shoddy work once in a while. It happens.

7. I have been involved in almost every aspect of this business -- finance, running factories, wholesale sales, retail sales and as a builder. The greatest need is for proper coordination and alignment between factory and builder, including:
1. Clear and unambiguous delineation of scope. 2. Rapid (or automatic) estimating, even if a fee is required. 3. Rapid drawings and engineering, even if a fee is required. (3D drawings are becoming the new standard.) 4. Factory assistance to the level desired, and paid for, by the builder.

Modcoach: What you’re talking about here is what should have happened years ago. Asking builders for a fee to do work at the factory is tantamount to heresy. That said, it really should happen if builders want to be more involved with the factory processes.

8. There is way too much customization to get the drawings done any faster.

Modcoach: Word to the wise. Watch for some, if not most, to begin cutting back on the ever expanding demand for more difficult and expensive custom work. The factories want to do it and can do it but the builder and their customers are demanding low cost and fast turnaround and that simply cannot continue to happen without some very serious conversations between all parties. Related Article: Has Customization Gone Too Far in Modular Housing

9. I'm a multiFamily guy in Modular. I can think of a couple of things that would help us out. AIA contracts specifically designed to include, not exclude, modular construction. Developer adoption of Design-Build, not Design - Bid - Build. It just makes sense and realizes savings for everyone. Do your "do-diligence" and pick your team before you hire an Architect. Project Management - Project Management - Project Management. It's not just overhead.

Modcoach: Rough truth- As long as single family modular home factories enter into contracts to build large commercial projects on a part time basis you will not see the dedicated staff or effort put in place to make all the things happen you mention above.

I suspect that there are a couple of modular home factories in the East that have already made the decision to do commercial right and even open a second line or a second factory to produce commercial. It has to happen.

10. Order Entry Software that is as customized as our product is. Software that is modular friendly, instead of software created for a similar industry that really can't be tweaked properly for our industry. Software that is NOT an ERP software.

Modcoach: Installing a BIM program into the mix is really expensive and time consuming to get installed properly. The current ordering system from factories range from paper and pencil entry (Yes, there are more of these than you think) to semi automated where manual entry is required for special order items and procedures to fully automated entry systems that is used more in the ‘plan book’ factory side of the modular industry.

If Horton is ever going to hear a Who, the Who needs to get working on taking the current modular home industry on a trip to “Innovation World”.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When Angie Speaks Consumers Listen

Hats off to Angie's' List for introducing their clients and hopefully more of their builders to the benefits of modular home construction.

The Video showcases Unibuilt Homes in Vandalia, OH.