Monday, October 14, 2019

BSC Keynote Speaker Says Modular Housing Must Start Finding Its Own Path

When Mark Yost, the President of Skyline Champion, I, like most others, wondered what direction his keystone talk at this year’s Building Systems Council Annual Meeting would be.

Unity and finding our unique path in all types of offsite construction quickly became his focus and it’s time we as an industry began practicing what he told us.

The first glimpse of how to improve the modular industry came when he pointed to several people in attendance and said “You’re a puzzle piece.” How can we be stronger? By getting all us ‘puzzle pieces’ to begin working together for change.

If all of us are puzzle pieces and you don’t contribute your’s to the change that’s needed, then shame on you. Until that actually begins to happen, the puzzle will never be finished.

We all have good intentions but few act on them. If sit on your puzzle piece instead of sharing it with the industry how do you know you're not the one piece that could complete the picture.

A united puzzle can change regulations, bring training into our industry, figure out how to efficiently build affordable housing and a myriad of other things that have been holding our industry at less than 3% of new home construction. Instead of hiding your puzzle piece, hold it high and soon someone will step up to begin putting the puzzle together. Until that time we continue to hold meeting after meeting wondering what can we do to grow our industry.

He also talked about predetermined paths our industry is forced to follow that have been created by government, associations and ‘advisory’ councils all pushing their pathways at our industry.

As we begin putting that puzzle together we will begin making our own pathways to improving modular and manufactured housing.

There will always be more regulations coming our way but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could collectively help change their inevitable path to one that works for us instead of hindering the future of offsite construction.

Thank you Mark for awakening a new way of looking at our industry and hopefully “someone” will soon take up your challenge of gathering those puzzle pieces and begin changing our industry. Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

New Zealand Government Cuts Red Tape to Build More Homes

The government has announced that it will make some changes to the Building Act 2004 to allow more homes to be built quickly.

Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa said the government will cut through some of the red tape of the Building Act as part of its major overhaul.

“Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home and old inefficiencies in the Building Act make building slow and expensive – as builders well know. We are making progress in tackling the long-term challenge of housing including making high-quality, large-scale manufacturing of prefab houses a reality,” Salesa said.

CLICK HERE to read the Insurance Business NZ article

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Building Codes and Regulations - A Headache We All Share

Did you know the cost of all those local, state and Federal housing codes and regulations and their enforcement account for almost a third of the cost of a new home?

This is what $84,000 looks like!

That average cost translates to more than $84,000.

And all those housing agencies wonder why we have declining affordable housing numbers! Anyone with a brain can see why when all that cost is passed directly on to the new home buyer. You almost want to shout at all those over-regulated state and Federal agencies and tell them to “look at what you’ve done!”

I live in a small city with hundreds of homes built before the Civil War. The city recently did a survey I found interesting. As these homes aged, the owners put in new insulated windows, sealed air infiltration spots, added insulation to the walls and attics and improved both the plumbing and electrical systems.

The rate of house fire for these homes is about average for all house fires in the city. Now they be forced by the city to add sprinklers which I’ve heard will force many families that have lived in their homes for decades to sell because they can’t afford to upgrade to the proposed new regulations.

Left to their own devices, homeowners will do most of the improvements needed to safeguard their homes and increase energy efficiency. Solar roof panels are popping up everywhere without a government agency having to ram it down the homeowner’s throat.

Rental houses are the exception as most landlords don’t want to spend any more than absolutely necessary on their rental properties and should be made to meet tough building codes and regulations.

One has to question if all these new regulations and codes that come at new construction on an almost daily basis are really necessary.

Simple question but a very difficult one to answer. And we all know that once a superfluous new code is adopted, it is almost impossible to remove and will cost lots of money for someone plus it guarantees continued work for all those local and state housing code agencies.

Are you getting sick and tired of this trend? Let me know what you think can be done about it.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

New CA Law Changes Status of Independent Subcontractors

At the BSC Summit in Pittsburgh this week I heard it said over and over “What happens in California always migrates East.”
Let’s hope not in this instance. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 5 where employers will be required to use a strict method, called the ABC test, to determine if a worker is either an independent contractor or an employee entitled to the protections and benefits into law. At the present time most general contractors that use state approved subcontractors will see little or no effect on their business but rest assured once California regulators begin looking more closely into the subcontractor side of our industry, we will begin to see general contractors being put under the regulatory microscope. If the subs are forced to make changes in how they do business and have to raise their costs to GC’s, who knows what costs will be passed onto the developer and new home buyer. Home builders in CA are pulling back from new construction caused a slowdown in permits simply because it’s become harder to make money building homes within the state. Builders cite the high costs for land, labor, materials, government regulations and if that isn’t enough, this new law can only increase those costs. Let’s hope, just this once, that “what happens in California stays in California.”

Friday, October 11, 2019

LGA Recruiters’ October Modular Housing Industry Job Listings

Are you ready to find a new position within the manufactured housing industry? This could be the place to find it.

Contact Lynn Gromann at 888-831-0327 or
if you would like further information on an available candidate or on an open position.

The Active Candidates section below represents candidates looking for new career opportunities.

The Open Positions section represents companies, who are looking for candidates to fill their open positions.

Active Candidates

EXECUTIVE / FINANCIAL General Manager - HUD / MOD experience, TX, no relo, will commute VP Operations - 14 years commercial MOD - will relo Director Biz Development - 4 years MOD start-ups - will relo

PRODUCTION / OPERATIONS Production Manager - 30 + years HUD / MOD - IN only Assistant Production Manager - 17+ years HUD / MOD - ID only Plant Operations Manager - manufacturing, 11 years HUD / MOD

ENGINEERING / ARCHITECTURAL Designer - 23 years Commercial & Multifamily MOD - IN, No relo Designer - 14+ years MOD & RV experience, IN only Engineering Manager - 10+ years HUD / MOD experience, PA Drafter - HUD / MOD, PA, no relo

SALES / MARKETING Sales - Commercial MOD & MOD, wants western 1/2 of U.S. Sales Rep - 11+ years HUD / MOD, Southeast Sales Rep - Wholesale & Retail experience, TX Sales Manager - 21+ years Community, Retail, Wholesale - prefers AZ

MATERIALS / PURCHASING / ESTIMATING Materials Manager - 35 years in MOD, wants PA Materials Manager - 15 years HUD / MOD + 5 years other, will relo

SERVICE / QUALITY Service Manager - 20+ years HUD / MOD, wants East coast

Open Positions

EXECUTIVE / FINANCIAL Director of Architecture and Design - Multi-family MOD - Upper Midwest Professional Engineer - Multi-family MOD - Upper Midwest Director of Manufacturing / Processes - HUD / MOD - Midwest

PRODUCTION / OPERATIONS Production Manager (2) - MOD - Upper Midwest Production Manager - MOD - Rocky Mountain Area Production Manager - HUD / MOD - Upper Midwest Assistant Operations Manager - HUD / MOD - Midwest Assistant Production Manager - HUD / MOD - West Production Manager - HUD / MOD - Southwest Production Manager (2) - HUD / MOD - Southeast Operations Manager - Commercial MOD - Southeast Project Manager - Commercial MOD - Pacific NW Production Supervisors - HUD / MOD - All Regions

ENGINEERING / ARCHITECTURAL Engineering Manager Special Projects - HUD / MOD - Southeast Architectural Designer - Commercial MOD - Upper Midwest Mechanical Drafter - Commercial MOD - Upper Midwest Engineering Manager - HUD / MOD - Southeast Architect - Commercial MOD - Upper Midwest Design Manager - Commercial MOD - Southwest Architectural Manager - Commercial MOD - Southwest Engineering Manager - HUD / MOD - Southwest Revit Designer - Multi-family - Upper Midwest AutoCAD Drafter - MOD - Midwest AutoCAD Drafter - MOD - Upper Midwest Drafter - Commercial MOD - Midwest Engineering Manager - MOD - Pacific NW

SALES / MARKETING Sales Manager - HUD / MOD - Upper Midwest Sales Manager - HUD / MOD - South Sales Manager- MOD - Pacific NW

MATERIALS / PURCHASING / ESTIMATING Purchasing Manager - Commercial MOD - South Purchasing Agent - MOD - Midwest Materials Manager - HUD / MOD - South

SERVICE / QUALITY Service Manager - HUD / MOD - Southeast Quality Assurance Director - Commercial MOD - Upper Midwest Quality Manager - HUD / MOD - Southeast

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

BSC and MHBA Annual Meetings Reviews Coming Very Soon.

This week I'm show hopping between the BSC Annual Summit in Pittsbrugh, PA and the MHBA Annual Meeting in Hershey, PA.

There are lots of interesting people to talk with, new processes to announce and lots of other really great things that need discussed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

An Eye Opener at this Year's BSC Annual Summit

Affordable housing is a term you hear thrown around by every town, city, county and state housing official throughout the nation. It was also one of the main topics and buzzwords at this year's BSC Summit in Pittsburgh.

Builders and developers want to build more to meet the demand and were looking for innovative new approaches to the problem at the Summit but more and more regulations imposed at all levels of government is making it almost impossible to accomplish.

Many factors can constrain housing starts — the availability of finished lots, labor supply, credit for land acquisition and home building. But regulations and government fees are becoming the greatest barrier to new housing starts.

The reality is that the nation faces a chronic housing shortage. That means higher housing prices, rising rents and increasing economic stress for low and moderate-income households.

The single greatest cause of rising housing prices is excessive regulations that increase the time and cost of building new homes. Government regulations limit the supply and drive up the costs of land. They increase the costs of construction. In some places, out-of-control impact fees drive new home costs beyond the reach of the typical household.

In fact, it was stated at yesterday’s BSC Annual Summit that almost one third of the cost of building a new home is now regulatory costs.

I’ve spoken to many residential modular home factory owners and GM’s about what impact they are facing today that they weren’t just 10 years ago and almost without exception they believe that the rapid changes being made to codes and regulations at all levels is beginning to take its toll on the builders.

Added costs of regulations and codes during production of the home, after it’s set and finished are up substantially as well as land and use fees and many other factors that have just about killed traditional affordable housing whether it is off-site or modular.n some locations, burdensome regulations and steep impact fees sometimes make it infeasible to build a new home at all.

It is not a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of the least affordable communities in the nation are in California, the most heavily regulated state in the country.

At all levels of government, the “good ideas” of council members and commissioners, state legislators and federal legislators create a deep, broad morass of excessive and overlapping regulations that leads to the unintended consequence of increased housing costs.

No matter how well intentioned these regulations may be, the net effect is a direct and damaging increase in housing costs that disproportionately affects low and moderate-income families.

Millennials entering the home buying market are being shut out of starter homes and forced to make decisions that many Boomers like myself can’t even imagine.

They want to live independently but are looking at alternatives to the over regulated and affordable 1.400 sq ft detached home built in a nice neighborhood.

They may not really want to cut grass or put in gardens like older generations did but the home is central to American family life. It is the place where families make cherished memories, and children are nurtured to build for a better tomorrow.

On the more realistic side of over-regulation, we have to face the facts that what government agencies mandate are rarely taken away.

Can you imagine what rolling back those regulations by half would mean to the affordable housing crisis? Would it mean 100,000+ new affordable homes? I don’t that answer but wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Express Modular Launches Franchise Program

An Interview with Ken Semler, Founder and President of Express Modular I met Ken Semler long before I held my very first Builder Breakfast in Frederick, MD in 2012. Since then I have watched his business grow from a regional modular home builder to having biggest presence on the Internet selling modular homes in 42 states and using more than a dozen modular factories to supply homes to his customers.
Ken Semler, Express Modular Franchise

He has spoken at numerous International Builders Shows, is the Chairperson for the Building Systems Council of the NAHB and is a board member of the Modular Home Builder Association. He is also a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist and has spoken at many of my Builder Breakfasts and Boot Camps.

Express Modular has home building consultants serving every region of the US, showrooms in PA and WV with more opening and now he is tackling a first for the modular housing industry. Franchising! The Express Modular franchising program had a soft opening a couple weeks ago but Ken has begun shouting about it from the rooftops and things are looking great for Express Modular Franchising. I spent some time talking with Ken about why he has taken the plunge into franchising and what he sees as the future for the modular housing industry. Modcoach (Gary Fleisher): What prompted you to add franchising to one of the most successful Internet marketing companies the modular home industry has ever seen? Ken Semler: There are actually several reasons that we identified franchising as a great way to grow the off-site residential modular industry and to be Express Modular’s growth vehicle. First, it is the current environment. When I talk with factories they are frustrated because they aren’t getting new builders into the industry and more specifically, to become customers of their factory. Their new builder-buyers are typically obtained by taking business from another factory. That source of builders is only so big and that reservoir of prospects is quickly getting pumped dry. That is leading factory sales reps to recruit and try to convince site builders or others new to the industry to give modular a “try”. But almost every factory I talk with gives me the same statistics without fail; for every 10 new builders they recruit - 6 never order a 2nd home, 3 of the new modular builders get them entangled in a customer dispute or put them in a bailout situation costing them money and then the factory won’t sell them a 2nd home. That leaves 1 builder out of the 10 that actually orders a second home. These are horrible statistics. The off-site modular construction industry is in the news everywhere. Labor issues are causing every builder to rethink their way of building. They just know modular is their way forward. But we have an industry that has no formal training, no way of getting training, and is constantly dealing with marketing and sales issues because of the confusion between modular and manufactured housing. Gary: Training for “new to modular” builders is something that is totally lacking in the modular housing industry. Do your franchisees receive special training in how to build with modular construction? Ken: I think one of the misconceptions or misunderstandings for those new to this industry is that they think factories are builders and can help them get their business started and then support them with leads from the factory website. That isn’t how it works and it leads to failed modular builders and frustrated factories. Factories have turned construction into a manufacturing process. Factories are manufacturers, not builders. They don’t understand field construction and their reps don’t understand marketing and sales to consumers. We designed Express Modular Franchising to create new custom modular home builders. We offer marketing and sales systems and training, business process software and training, and modular home builder field training and support. All of this from a nationwide custom modular home builder with decades of experience. We like to say that the Express Modular Franchising system is essentially a “Builder in a Box”. Gary: Will franchisees benefit from Express Modular’s nationwide presence? Ken: Yes, in several ways. But one of the key ones is that leads created by will be provided to franchisees for their marketing territory. I like to call it taking the Express Modular Challenge. Go to Google and type in modular homes city state. For example modular homes Narragansett RI, modular homes Troy NY, or modular homes Newark NJ. What you will typically see is that we are in the top half of search results for almost every city and state in the country. As a new builder it would take years to create a website and establish search engine results like this. And one of the key points is that we provide the marketing and sales systems to process that lead. It would cost more than most local builders could afford in their budget to develop this. We provide this marketing and sales machine to franchisees on day one when they join Express Modular Franchising.
Gary: Is a franchise opportunity only available to experienced builders? Ken: We developed Express Modular Franchising to grow the modular industry. This means that our training, support, and systems are designed to create a successful modular home builder out of people from all walks of life. Real Estate Agents, entrepreneurs, existing sub-contractors, retired/second career professionals, etc. As the labor crunch continues to worsen we are looking to find new ways to get new people into the modular construction field. One area that we are especially focused on is how to support women that want to enter the construction industry. Women make up only 3% of the construction workforce. We believe modular construction, with the right training and support, is the perfect on ramp to successfully bring women into the construction field. Gary: How does a prospective franchisee find out if there is a franchise open in their area? Ken: By going to our franchising website: and clicking on Available Territories. We are starting in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, upper south, and Midwest. We are working to quickly expand into the south and the northwest next. Gary: Training for “new to modular” builders, as I mentioned earlier, is something that is totally lacking in the modular housing industry. Do your franchises receive special training in how to build with modular construction?
Ken: Yes, training is the key to success for this industry. But something else is missing. New to modular builders don’t have access to a support structure, a mentoring type program where they have access to someone to get questions answered as they try to run their business. Especially during the startup phase were critical costly mistakes could mean the end of the business. We have taken a three pronged approach to making new modular home builders successful. Express Modular Franchisees get training, coaching/mentoring, and field support. We have created a combination of classroom and online training for franchisees. We all know that video is an important aspect of how-to training. Our training software allows us to deliver how-to videos in the field. You can use your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. We are currently expanding our video content to cover every aspect of field construction, not just modular specific training modules. Adding coaching/mentoring and field support means that we are hiring the “gray hair” in the industry. We are hiring experienced builders and set crew leads that aren’t quite ready to retire. We have created a structured way in which the knowledge from years of experience can be shared with new to modular builders to support their success. Education and in-the-field knowledge coupled with our proven systems is what we believe makes Express Modular Franchising the best way to become a successful custom modular home builder today. Gary: How has the response been to the idea of owning a franchise and when do you think the first one will be opened? Ken: We have just recently launched the Express Modular Franchising website. This month we have started actively marketing the franchise and will do a full launch of Express Modular Franchising at the International Builder Show(IBS) in Las Vegas in January. We will have a booth in the nextBUILD section of IBS. The NAHB created nextBUILD to provide a showcase for builders to see the technology to build a more efficient and profitable business, while also promoting the knowledge to manage customer’s needs and wants in their high-tech homes. Ken, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I found your responses quite interesting and can’t wait to write about your success in boosting modular housing’s presence in new home building. Learn more about the Express Modular franchise opportunity:

More Reasons Your Next Projects Should Go Modular

We’ve been reading a lot about all the newest trends in modular housing and why it is the future of residential and commercial construction.

And with the labor shortage in skilled construction there really is no other option than to turn to modular, here’s why:
  • With modular construction, the process of planning, designing and manufacturing the parts or modules is done within a factory setting rather than at the traditional construction site. This minimizes disruption to not only the clients but also the local community too.
  • The speed of choosing modular construction has been shown to cut the entire time of the project from start to finish by as much as 30%. Offsite construction means that work in the factory can start at the same time as the site is prepared, accelerating the entire build program. This reduces waste as well as reducing the impact of having a large workforce on the work site for a long period of time.
  • Sustainability also includes the working conditions of the people that are doing the construction. Modular is much safer as transferring work off-site into a controlled environment improves safety. Working in a controlled factory setting rather than building outside, on potential high scaffolding, while exposed to changeable weather is a major plus.
  • The quality of modular buildings is leading the way in the construction industry. This means that the latest specification standard standards and build quality can reduce occupancy costs related to energy use, defects and repairs.

Modular is the fastest growing segment of the building industry.

Insights into Affordable Housing at ULI’s 2019 Fall Meeting

Solutions to the Attainable and Affordable Housing Crisis Are Varied, but Promising

No single solution exists among the efforts to deliver attainable and affordable housing in a country where home prices continue to escalate significantly and the dream of homeownership is out of reach of millions of households, an expert panel told attendees at ULI’s 2019 Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.

A move toward more modular, factory-built housing could lower prices because it provides a more efficient assembly and controls labor costs, said Casey, who is also the chair of the Housing Innovation Alliance. The common method of construction on a job site with multiple subcontractors assembling a house from materials delivered piecemeal is inefficient, said Casey, comparing the process to delivering auto parts to scattered assembly sites, rather than building cars at auto factories.

A drawback to modular housing, some panelists mentioned, is the inability of the buildings to allow for unique features, styling, or easy customization.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Urbanland article