Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Should San Francisco Build Its Own Modular Housing Factory?

Since private enterprise doesn’t seem that interested in building modular factories to serve San Francisco’s affordable housing problem the city is scouting for a site for a factory that will see a $100,000,000 order from the city to jump start it.

photo courtesy Guerdon Modular Buildings

It’s unclear who will actually operate the city owned factory. It could either be a private business entity (preferred) or a large non-profit (totally doomed to failure). Either way it will be a couple of years before a factory can be built and ready to produce the first module of that huge order of affordable housing units.

Here’s a fun fact - it usually costs $750,000 to $800,000 to build a single affordable unit within a housing development in San Francisco, including the cost of buying land.

Funding from federal and state housing programs, fees from developers, and other sources typically pay for just over half of that cost. The city generally picks up the remaining $300,000 to $350,000 for each unit bring the cost to the homeowner down to a manageable $50,000 - $100,000.

So while affordable housing in most other cities is viewed for working people that can’t quite afford the median priced living unit, in San Francisco it will most likely mean subsidized housing for low income and homeless.

Located in Vallego just north of San Francisco sets factory OS already producing modular units for Google and other ‘for profit’ developers. A question that should be asked is why doesn’t San Francisco simply spend $100,000,000 with factory OS, only 34 miles away, instead of spending millions of dollars building their own factory?

Factory OS could probably add that capacity to their present production and have almost all those ‘affordable’ housing units built, set and finished before a factory built with government money they don’t have even opens its doors.

Please San Francisco, forget building your own factory and simply give tax breaks and incentives to a private for-profit investor with real experience in opening and running a modular factory. Everyone knows it will come in at budget and on time compared to the boondoggle a government built factory will be.

My final thoughts. San Francisco, simply wave that $100,000,000 contract in the air and let private enterprise at it. That could happen in other states but we are talking California here.


Gilbert Meier said...

We have the solution. A $18/sf modular technology using advanced composites. A few unique components and a smart way of putting them together at a speed of 1 min per square foot. Our materials resists fire, water, mold, corrosion and chemicals. Our buildings will resist a strong hurricane. A small 2-room house will sell for $14,750, FOB USA. Layouts with multiple floors can be designed in increments of 4ft. See this new building technology at: http://mmc-3.com

VM said...

Looks good Gilbert, but the problem with ALL construction these days is shortage of workforce skilled labor.
The Lego budget friendly homes look great but when you have that many parts to put together, pass local and state codes, then the concept is less appealing.
Build a factory in the US, put these homes together quickly and stay at budget friendly price to builders and you have a win win.