Friday, September 28, 2018

Amazon Invests in Modular Housing Startup Featuring Alexa

It’s said that you can purchase anything on Amazon. Soon that may even include real estate. The Internet retail giant has invested in Californian housing startup Plant Prefab, marking its first foray into the bricks and mortar property market.


The investment from the Amazon Alexa Fund is part of Plant Prefab’s $6.7m Series A funding round, which also featured backing from venture capitalists Obvious Ventures. The latest round of funding will go toward investments in new senior hires, building the marketing and sales team, and developing Plant Prefab’s patented Plant Building System.


Plant Prefab manufactures custom high-end single and multi-family homes that are sustainable and durable. The company claims its prefabrication approach reduces construction time by 50% and cost by 10-25% in major cities. The components for its homes are constructed in a 62,000 sq ft factory in Rialto, California.

With its expansion, Plant Prefab hopes to tackle the current urban demand for homes that use less energy, water, and resources. The company also believes its custom designs are the solution for oddly shaped sites and varying zoning regulations in cities.

Amazon has not explicitly stated whether Plant Prefab’s homes will come fitted with Alexa technology, nor has the company revealed current plans to list Plant Prefab’s homes on the retail site.

Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, said: “Voice has emerged as a delightful technology in the home, and there are now more than 20,000 Alexa-compatible smart home devices from 3,500 different brands. Plant Prefab is a leader in home design and an emerging, innovative player in home manufacturing. We’re thrilled to support them as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers.”

Plant Prefab founder and CEO Steve Glenn added: “In the housing-crunched major cities it takes too much time to build a home from groundbreaking to occupancy, and labor shortages, construction delays and increased construction costs are exacerbating this trend even further, and making homes increasingly less affordable.

“Most existing prefabrication companies in the US focus on standard, low quality, non-sustainable mobile and modular homes – for suburban communities. Plant Prefab is unique in that we’re focused on custom, high quality, very sustainable homes and we have a special facility and a patented building system optimised for this. Clients can select from a growing number of homes we offer from world-class architects, all of which can be customised for specific lots and client needs.

“By building in an all-weather facility with lower cost and staff labor, we offer clients a more reliable, time and cost-effective alternative to local, urban general contractors.”

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