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Worker Scarcity Means More Home Builders Are Moving Towards Modular Construction

The number of construction workers is almost 15% below the 2000s average, and the U.S. is currently experiencing one of the most persistent worker shortages the construction industry has seen in many years. As a result, home building companies across the nation are moving to an area they may have previously frowned upon: modular homes.

Modular homes, unlike traditionally built houses, are produced in a factory and then shipped to the physical site. These custom modular homes can be built in as little as one to two weeks in a factory, as compared to several months for on-site construction.

KB Home, one of the nation’s largest homebuilding companies, just revealed an energy-efficient home that for the most part was constructed in a factory and then assembled on-site. The concept house is indicative of the future of modular home building, which will require far fewer workers on-site.

Of course, modular companies like Yates Homes have been extolling the advantages of modular homes for many years.

“Automobiles, airplanes and others have been able to utilize these same techniques,” said Dan Bridleman, senior vice president for sustainability, technology, and strategic sourcing at KB Home. Bridleman added that in the end, rethinking the construction process is about being more cost-efficient and more timely with home creation.

While many home building companies have criticized modular home builders in the past, there are many distinct advantages of modular homes. The most important benefits of modular homes lie in the actual construction process. Not only are these homes built faster, but there is often less strain on workers.

Despite the many advantages of modular homes, only 2 to 3% of homes built in the last 10 years are considered modular. However, the U.S. housing recovery has left many home builders with a severe shortage of skilled workers, which has made keeping up with rising housing demands rather difficult. Now, more and more builders have turned to modular homes to meet consumer demands.

Technology has advanced rapidly since the rise of modular homes in the 1980s, and the same stands for the homebuilding industry. Unfortunately for traditional homebuilders, many of those advances have taken place on the modular home factory floor, where homes can be assembled faster, cheaper, and with fewer workers. That fits with larger trends within the manufacturing and construction industry, as companies try to produce more with fewer workers.

And although some people are just now catching on, it’s clearer than ever that the future belongs to modular homes.