Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Modular Key to Homogenized City Construction

Boston, the third most expensive city to live in, needs to find more ways to add inexpensive housing to meet the needs of a growing population while serving a middle-class market that is rapidly being priced out of town. Going modular is a good way to help accomplish that.

A unique approach has been suggested to Boston’s city council that by using modular construction built in factories within a short distance of the city with all the modules looking alike, the time to construct this new, homogenous, affordable housing could begin soon.

Several Architect groups and even a Scandinavian modular company are looking to convince Bostonians that living in piles of Lego boxes stacked up many stories and all looking alike is in their best interest.

Building conditions inside these climate-controlled factories are ideal and will also provide local employment that will add to the tax base. Pennsylvania, the primary source for modular homes shipped into the New England area, will feel the negative effects of modules being built within Boston’s city limits and funded by city bonds.

Boston city planners are estimating that at least 53,000 new affordable housing units will be needed within the next 15 years. That is over 3,500 living units a year and if that converts to 2 modules each, the total amount of manufacturing capacity just for Boston is staggering.

It’s a lot easier to seal window to brick when you’re not battling an ice storm and that fact along with a greater value in the speed of modular construction, which generally takes two-thirds the time of a regular construction project, means that the city could have a win-win situation. And faster-paced building is crucial if Boston is to meet its goal of adding 53,000 housing units in the next 15 years.

That is almost too much for a single factory, so look for city funding for several factories that can be converted to other types of production as they complete their 15 year run.

This has the potential to be a game changer for the commercial and even residential modular housing industry already in place. Cities funding temporary modular construction production lines that can be reused for other manufacturing when the need eases could be next big thing for our industry.  

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