Courtesy Clayton

As the housing shortage in the United States persists, home builders like Clayton—No. 8 on the 2023 Builder 100—are identifying innovative solutions to help families achieve homeownership.

The national builder of single-family attainable housing recently partnered with Georgia Manufactured Housing Association and Iron Horse Communities to unveil a new urban infill project in Atlanta showcasing two of its CrossMod homes.

According to the builder, “CrossMod homes combine off-site construction with site-built features, making them indistinguishable from a traditional site-built home. These homes are uniquely positioned to help increase housing inventory while tackling restrictive urban zoning policies that have limited the acceptance of off-site built housing in the past.”

To learn more about the housing type and the builder’s plans for it, BUILDER spoke with Ramsey Cohen, Clayton’s director of industry and community affairs. See below for his insight.

Courtesy Clayton

What is a CrossMod home?

CrossMod homes are built to Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code and blend the advantages of off-site and site-built construction. These homes include features such as a permanent foundation, an elevated roof pitch, a garage, a covered porch, drywall interiors, and energy-efficient features.

The homes are built inside a climate-controlled facility and delivered by truck to the final location where the home is set on a permanent foundation. Construction is finished, and final touches are completed.

How does it differ from a traditional site-built house?

A CrossMod home functions for a homeowner the same way a traditional, site-built home does. The only real difference is CrossMod homes are built inside a facility to the federal building code established by HUD.

The homes look, finance, and appraise the same as site-built housing, but by utilizing off-site building methods, they are built more efficiently and packed with energy-efficient features. CrossMod homes are indistinguishable from traditional, site-built homes.

How does it differ from other Clayton off-site models?

CrossMod homes are eligible for conventional financing programs. They also appraise alongside site-built homes and other CrossMod homes, meaning homeowners can achieve wealth building opportunities, such as the appreciation of their property’s value.

Courtesy Clayton

What features does it have? Is it energy efficient?

New Clayton HUD-code homes, including CrossMod homes, are eBuilt, which are Clayton homes built to the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home specifications and are estimated to save homeowners up to 50% on their annual energy costs, allowing homeowners to save more money over the lifetime of their home.

What is the overarching goal for Clayton’s CrossMod product?

CrossMod homes offer a solution to increasing housing by allowing builders like Clayton to help developers add a new housing tool to their tool belt. With a CrossMod home, we build the house utilizing off-site construction efficiencies, relieving some of a developer’s labor pressure.

CrossMod homes can also allow builders and developers to build subdivisions and neighborhoods faster than using traditional on-site construction. Because the homes are largely constructed off-site, developers only need to build a foundation, a porch, and a garage on-site. This allows them to complete multiple houses in a shorter time frame.

Where in the country has Clayton constructed CrossMod homes?

CrossMod homes have been built in several areas across the country. So far, Clayton CrossMod homes can be found in 26 states.

Courtesy Clayton

What is the price range for these homes? Are they truly affordable?

The price for a CrossMod home is dependent on the market, distance from facility, cost of land, and other factors. For example, the two new Clayton CrossMod homes inside the Atlanta perimeter are currently listed for $389,000. In New Tazewell, Tennessee, a new Clayton CrossMod home is currently listed for $285,000.

In addition, Clayton CrossMod homes are now eBuilt, which can help homeowners save up to 50% on their annual energy costs with the potential to save thousands of dollars in energy costs throughout their homeownership journey.

How does local zoning influence the construction of CrossMod homes?

One of our industry’s challenges has been gaining zoning allowances for off-site built homes more generally within a wider variety of residential areas. Our industry is working closely with municipalities across the country to educate community leaders and the public on CrossMod homes and ensure the right zoning allowances are in place.

Just last month, Clayton unveiled two CrossMod homes built inside the city of Atlanta, the first of their kind inside the city perimeter. The city of Atlanta allows off-site built homes within city limits so long as the homes are secured to a permanent foundation. This zoning ordinance is an example of a flexible zoning policy that can increase attainable homeownership opportunities in high-growth cities across the country and an example of where CrossMod can be a great solution.

In November, Clayton also announced a new CrossMod neighborhood in London, Kentucky. The mayor of London has established a task force to explore the city’s zoning policies and advance zoning legislation in an effort to expand homeownership opportunities through off-site built housing.

Courtesy Clayton

Did the new Federal Housing Administration (FHA) appraisal guidelines help or hurt the CrossMod product? How?

The new appraisal guidelines issued by the FHA vastly improve the valuation criteria for CrossMod homes. With the FHA’s updated policy, CrossMod homes will now appraise alongside site-built homes and other CrossMod homes, instead of older off-site built homes without CrossMod features, providing homeowners the opportunity to build equity and wealth over time.

What milestones or goals does the company have for the CrossMod brand this year? In the next five years?

Roughly 10% of new homes are off-site construction, and we see that percentage increasing as CrossMod homes open the door for untapped markets with new customers and increased zoning acceptance.

Clayton remains committed to opening doors to a better life through homeownership, and CrossMod homes offer an innovative way to increase new-home inventory across the country.

Previously, Clayton has built a single-section home to CrossMod specifications, offering a unique layout ideal for many smaller city lots. Clayton and the broader industry hope to see the single-section CrossMod adopted into the government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) CrossMod financing programs, which would expand access to this attainable homeownership solution. We’re estimating the single-section CrossMod would bring site-built features, including a garage, to families for around $200,000 to $250,000* in most markets. This would allow CrossMod and the GSE programs to further increase attainable housing supply.

*This price range includes land and offers an estimate based on the diversity of land cost across the country.