For the most part, the markets that modular home manufacturers serve are limited in their proximity to the supplier’s factory. Shipping modules over distances longer than a couple of hundred miles runs the risk of damaging the product, and can be prohibitively expensive.
But one startup supplier thinks it has come up with an economical solution to shipping modules farther and using different modes of transportation than flatbed trucks. Connect:Homes, a Los Angeles–based company, had its official launch in June at the Dwell on Design show, where it built a prototype home.
The company’s co-founders, Jared Levy and Gordon Stott, previously worked for Marmol Radziner Prefab, where they oversaw the design and fabrication of 15 custom homes priced from $350 to $600 per square foot. “We received thousands of calls from people around the world who wanted our homes, but at a more affordable price,” says Levy.
Connect:Homes estimates that currently it would cost modular suppliers about $20,000 to ship modules across country, and $400,000 to ship overseas. Levy and Stott spent three years devising a system they say cuts those delivery costs by up to 90 percent. In essence, they’ve built the functionality of a shipping container into the modules by encasing them in metal panels for protection. Using this method, the modules could be shipped by land, sea, or air.
This new transportation system also allows Connect:Homes to complete 90 percent of the house before it’s shipped, compared to what it claims is the industry average of 50 percent completed. (In its startup phase, Connect:Homes is using a factory in California provided by the modular manufacturer Champion Home Builders.) Its modules start at $145 per square foot delivered and $165 per square foot installed.
The homes are designed to achieve LEED for Homes Silver certification. The ability to ship a more-complete module could reduce jobsite waste by as much as 75 percent. And Stott notes that his company’s geographic expansion won’t require opening new factories just to reach certain markets.
Levy says Connect:Homes will first focus on domestic customers who seek modern design but “would otherwise hire an architect to build a house. Up to this point, modular has had very little impact on this market niche. We’re positioning our product as greener, more sustainable, but cost competitive.”