Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Builder Magazine Says Blu Homes "Achieves Excellence"

Builder Magazine posted this article in their June 23, 2015 edition. To say I'm surprised that Builder recognized them is an understatement but "Oh Well."

Blu Homes—Platform Excellence

Blu Homes in Vallejo, Calif., provides a glimpse into what could be the future of home building. Blu's center of excellence is its platform, which is, as its location near Silicon Valley might suggest, information technology. The company builds what it calls "prefab" homes made of heavy timber, steel, and glass in a state-of-the-art factory in Vallejo. It offers seven models ranging from the low $200,000s to more than $500,000.

Maura McCarthy, Blu Homes Owner

Blu avoids the use of the word "modular" owing to quality perception problems among consumers in some areas of the country. Also, unlike modular construction, which requires expensive transportation on oversized vehicles and setting equipment that cannot reach some sites, Blu Homes are first manufactured, then assembled, then broken down "like pieces of origami," says Maura McCarthy, co-founder and vice president of market development for Blu, and can travel anywhere by garden-variety 18-wheelers.

"The technology that is all around us is virtually unused in home building," McCarthy explains. She notes that Blu "is more Tesla than Toll," referring to the car maker that made electric cars cool and desirable instead of squat and utilitarian, and Toll Brothers, the high-end public home building company that ranked No. 10 on this year's BUILDER 100 list. "We decided to embrace prefab just like Tesla embraced the electric car," she says.

The technology drives the entire enterprise. Home buyers choose and customize their home on the company's website; the specs are then immediately available to the factory. As such, the progress of each home can be tracked in real time, with the management team able to access data anytime from anywhere.

Blu has design centers in VallejoLos Angeles, and New York City and is a licensed general contractor in CaliforniaConnecticutIdahoMarylandMassachusetts, New YorkRhode Island, Virginia, and Washington state. Clients work with dedicated company representatives who manage all aspects of design, engineering, factory construction, project management, shipping, setting, and finishing. Blu also has a network of Realtors and developers to help clients find land. It does not itself buy lots.

McCarthy, noting that the company is privately held, would not disclose the number of homes the company sold last year but said the company logged more than $100 million in net bookings during the previous 12 months dating from early May 2015, and the company's website reports it has sold more than 200 home products for 125 clients since its founding in 2008. The company currently has 285 employees, she said.

On the other hand, at Blu, they do still drive pickup trucks. And they are not electric—yet. 

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