One answer to Colorado’s affordable housing crisis could lie in a factory in north Denver. Workers at Clayton Homes PBS – Precision Building Systems – are assembling two homes a week, with amenities like granite countertops, and selling them for around $300,000.
Today’s modular homes have come a long way since the Sears Roebuck kits 100 years ago. You’d have a hard time differentiating traditional homes built on site with those built in the Denver factory, put on a flatbed, transported to a neighborhood, and set on a foundation.
The only difference is the factory homes take a month instead of a year to build and sell for about half the price. Barry Kunkle is Director of Design and Modular Manufacturing for PBS and makes home building sound as easy as snapping Legos together.
“We’ll break them apart, lay them on our tables and piece them all together.”
Kunkle is helping reinvent home building in Colorado.
“We’re doing two homes a week so about two and half days a home from start to finish.”
At the company’s 200 square-foot factory, Kunkel explains how parts and panels go in one end of an assembly line and complete homes emerge on the other.
“At the same time roof trusses are being built, floor trusses are being built.”
Instead of the step-by-step sequence that happens onsite, in the factory he says, sections of the house are assembled and inspected simultaneously.
“They’ll put in any insulation, any plumbing. They attach all the drywall. They’ll stand that wall panel up and run down here. We have a task tracker tells us by minute where we need to be.”
By the time the house leaves the factory, all it needs are finishing touches like paint, cupboards and carpeting. In addition to more efficiency, Kunkle says there’s less waste.
“We’ve got everything pre-cut. You’re pre-cutting your plumbing, your wiring. We’ve got shop drawings that tell exact lengths.”
It all adds up to lower costs, he says, without sacrificing quality.
“Farmhouse sinks, granite countertops in kitchens and bathrooms. It’s definitely the wave of the future. It’s more attainable so we can keep people in the beautiful State of Colorado and have a good quality home.”
So far, PBS has assembled eight models for Oakwood Homes. Starting this fall, it’ll construct 96 homes for Oakwood’s new development in Green Valley Ranch and there’s already a waitlist for them. While they’re less than 1,300 square feet, they’re energy efficient and you can get a two or three bedroom house with all the appliances for about $300,000.