Dennis Drenner/WPN

As a custom builder, Haven Custom Homes offers a high level of design and precision, works with the nation’s leading architects, and has provided product to some of the most architecturally demanding neighborhoods in the country during its 35-year history. What’s surprising is that the company is (and always has been) a modular builder, producing near-complete homes inside a factory serving 25 Eastern states. “This notion that Haven Homes is a custom builder that just happens to employ the modular technique really distinguishes us,” says Jerry Smalley, who joined the company in January 2007 as part of an executive team installed after its acquisition by Wind River Holdings. Haven’s gross revenues will increase more than 20 percent from a year ago, that alone being a distinctive quality within an otherwise struggling housing industry.

Q: How do you manage to build truly one-of-a-kind homes in a factory setting?

A: We’ve adopted methods and systems that allow us to build from any set of plans and to any specifications, and we don’t take a project into production until it is completely procured. We work from a client’s plans or from a database of plans from our design partners, and 90 percent of what we build we never build again. Our homes demonstrate that modular and terrific design are compatible.

Q: What’s the primary benefit of going modular instead of site-built?

A: We can provide a large measure of the home’s production in one contract that is specification-certain, price-certain, and delivery date–certain. On a risk-adjusted basis, that’s quite a value proposition.

Q: How and why do your homes outperform site-built homes?

A: We have to be far more precise than a site builder due to how we assemble our units. And people are starting to understand that they can achieve a better-performing home and address green building interests of health, sustainability, and energy efficiency with this method because we have more opportunities to accomplish those things [in a factory setting].