PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — A Southern California company claims it has a product that can help fix the Bay Area’s housing crisis: pre-fabricated homes that can be built in just about eight hours.
One by one, the modules for the home being put together in Palo Alto were trucked in, strapped in and hoisted up.
Pre-fabricated homes are taking the Bay Area housing market to new heights.
The 2,500 square foot, four-bed three bath home arrived at the job site on Waverly Avenue in six modules that are 90% finished, complete with counters and appliances installed in the kitchen, in the bathroom, the vanity, fixtures, and tile are already in.
Even lighting fixtures are dangling from the ceilings and ready to go.
The modules were made 400 miles away in the Southern California city of Rialto, where workspace and construction labor is much cheaper.
Inside Plant Prefab’s giant warehouse, workers are not affected by weather. They can run a much tighter schedule, waste less material and save time with an in-house code inspector.
Plant Prefab CEO Steve Glenn says while the foundation is getting prepped, the house was getting built at the same time.
“These modules — there are six of them that comprise the home — were being built in parallel offsite,” explained Glenn. “So we’re able to build in half to a third of the time that it would normally take.”
The modules weigh about 10-15 tons each. It took about a full day to drive them north to Palo Alto.
Hoisting each one up and gently lowering them into place takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
Homeowner Meera Vaidyanathan the build time was reduced from a year and half to seven months, saving her money on a rental home and sparing her neighbors months of construction headaches.
“I think it takes away a lot of the unknowns, and unpredictables out of the process,” said Vaidyanathan. “And both my husband and I work full time and I think we needed as much of that chaos reduced in our lives. And this has certainly helped do that for us.”
“We actually highly recommend it, because it’s cheaper actually, and it’s faster,” said Helen Chong with Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.
As for easing the housing crisis, Chong said it’s not viable for every neighborhood, like those with tall trees or power lines that could impede the assembly of a Plant Prefab home. But she does expect them to start popping up quickly all over the Bay Area.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, honestly. I would not be surprised,” said Chong.
When asked if he felt like an early adopter, homeowner Milind Gokhale replied, “Oh yeah, definitely. I still feel yes, we took a chance. But I would do it again. This is the way to go, I think.”