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 Entries tagged as 'research'

Modular Today Web site

We recently added Modular Today to our sidebar. The site is useful for anyone looking to build a modular home, with information ranging from an expected timeline to a financing guide.

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Lawrence Sass and yourHouse

Link to Lawrence Sass and yourHouse

Yesterday we reported on the Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibition at MoMA. In the coming days, we will preview each of the companies and homes featured in the exhibition.

First, let's take a look at yourHouse, from Lawrence Sass at MIT:

This design of yourHOUSE is a reinterpretation of historical New Orleans style “Shotgun” Housing utilizing recycled plywood as the main structural material. The house will be fabricated and assembled entirely of friction-fit components, completely eliminating the need for mechanical fasteners such as nails and screws.  This fabrication technique is made possible through the extensive use of computer numerical control (CNC) milling machines....

The goal of the yourHOUSE project is to exemplify a design process which utilizes cutting-edge technologies rooted in long term research efforts with the intent to illustrate a system that allows prefabricated housing to be low-cost and yet high-quality.

The processes include:


Digitalization is a 2-stage process which preceeds a materialziation process. First, 2-dimensional data was taken from the documentation and used to create elevation drawings. From this data, 3-dimensional data was extrapolated and digitally modeled so that the house facades could be transformed into solid physical models through a final materialization process.


Materialization begins by breaking down the digital model into a logic of component parts and assemblies. In the figure above is one such breakdown of a front porch column assembly


The final stage in the materialization process involves what is termed, 3D printing. This stage allows the researcher to examine the digital model as a solid physical body. In the figure above are 1:30 scale 3D prints of the four originally documented New Orleans 'Shotgun' house facades

The yourHouse concept also embraces customization:

One of the core strategies driving project yourHOUSE is the use of mass-customized as well as mass-standardized components. This strategy happens at multiple scales ranging from details to major structural features. As seen in the figure above, the main body of the house employs a standardized structural shell while the front porch of the house can be customized to suit the inhabitant's desires.

It will be exciting to see this concept realized for the MoMA show.

model: yourHouse by Lawrence Sass
style: traditional
how: kit of parts

Related Posts:
   1. MoMA's Home Delivery gets a glowing review from the NY Times (Jul 18, 2008)
   2. KieranTimberlake's Cellophane House (Jul 14, 2008)
   3. This week: Home Delivery, immigrant housing, prefab in NYC, and more (Jul 05, 2008)
   4. MoMA's prefab homes nearing delivery (Jun 09, 2008)
   5. Home Delivery blog goes live! (Mar 25, 2008)
   6. System3 from Oskar Leo Kaufmann and Albert Rüf (Jan 18, 2008)
   7. MoMA does prefab (Jan 08, 2008)
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The top modular builders

Link to The top modular builders

Last year, Builder Magazine released a list of the top 31 modular builders (pdf) in the United States.

I've put the data in the top chart above. As can be seen, a few large companies build the majority of modular homes. In case you don't recognize the shape of the curve: it's a classic "powerlaw" distribution known as Zipf's Law and discussed in the business bestseller The Long Tail. All sorts of data show the same shape, including book sales, blog traffic, and word usage in any language.

The second chart shows revenue per home for each company. There is lots of variation in this chart. It might be interesting to research this variation at some point. One likely factor: companies that sell direct vs. wholesale. Any other thoughts?

Fleetwood Enterprises builds a number of products, including recreational vehicles, so their revenues reflect revenue sources other than the modular homes shipped, accounting for the large discrepancies in the data.

Below, you can see a table that shows all of the data charted above for each company.

Company (rank)HomesRevenue ($m)Revenue per home
Champion Enterprises (1)46531365$293,359
CMH Manufacturing (2)31661328$419,457
Palm Harbor Homes (3)1614711$440,520
Muncy Homes (4)134685$63,150
Excel Homes (5)1200111$92,500
Ritz-Craft Corp. (6)84991$107,185
Professional Building Systems (7)78158$74,264
Royal Concrete Concepts (8)60068$113,333
Liberty Homes (9)55297$175,725
Pleasan Street Homes (10)52657$108,365
Patriot Homes (11)490151$308,163
Crestline Homes (12)48036$75,000
Simplex Industries (13)45245$99,558
R-Anell Housing Group (14)40842$102,941
Stratford Homes (15)37535$93,333
New England Homes (16)35027$77,143
American Homestar Corp. (17)341111$325,513
Four Seasons Housing (18)32084$262,500
Handcrafted Homes (19)30728$91,205
Westchester Modular Homes (20)30530$98,361
Fleetwood Enterprises (21)2612145$8,218,391
Unibilt Industries (22)25322$86,957
Integrity Building Systems (23)24722$89,069
Penn Lyon Homes Corp. (24)23032$139,130
Oxford Homes (25)22015$68,182
Deluxe Building Systems (26)16533$200,000
Barvista Homes (27)12515$120,000
Custom Building Systems (28)12111$90,909
Heritage Homes of Nebraska (29)12114$115,702
Manufactured Housing Enterprises (30)10610$94,340
Epoch Homes (31)10014$140,000

Related Posts:
   1. Epoch Homes nominated for SBANE award (May 26, 2009)
   2. Epoch Homes factory tours this weekend in NH (May 15, 2009)
   3. The NAHB on Systems-Built Housing (Jul 27, 2007)
   4. NAHB Modular Home Manufacturer Directory (Jul 20, 2007)
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MiSo House: modular efficiency

Link to MiSo House: modular efficiency

Like the Prefabrication Laboratory and Studio 804, the MiSo* House is a university-based prefab project. Michigan Solar House (MiSo*) "is an interdisciplinary endeavor at the University of Michigan incorporating students, faculty and staff from" a number of the different departments.

"The architecture of MiSo* reinterprets the single family dwelling to reflect a changing balance of ecological and technological choices that strive to integrate sustainable design within a contemporary lifestyle. The entry to the 2005 Solar Energy Decathlon functions as a working prototype of a portable, modular, and sustainable, solar powered dwelling and its design and construction are considered with future mass production in mind....

The MiSo product line can cater towards any size family. Therefore, reproducible parts are essential to the success of MiSo. The house on the mall will be built of five modules, three interior and two end, all pre-assembled and simply connected on site.

The modular design of the house components within the MiSo* system provide a vast set of combinations that can effectively assemble a house of any size from 400 sq ft upwards."

The University of Michigan page for the house features additional photos of the construction.

(Hat tip: Green Options)

Related Posts:
   1. Prefabrication Laboratory  (Jul 23, 2007)
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Prefabrication Laboratory

Link to Prefabrication Laboratory

The Prefabrication Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin has been investigating prefab methods since 2002:

"The Prefabrication Laboratory is a research group...focused on integration of factory production techniques and architecture. Offsite fabrication offers many benefits for building: higher quality, economies of scale, and more efficient use of resources. Prefabrication takes many forms and is evolving rapidly: modularization, pre-assembly, 'off-the-shelf' components....Our research investigates these changing processes looking for points of entry for architects....We look at fabrication in the larger context, how it has been used in the past, successfully or not, and how it affects local environments, cultures, economies."

The lab is similar to Studio 804 at the University of Kansas School of Architecture.

Related Posts:
   1. MiSo House: modular efficiency (Aug 01, 2007)
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The LV Series Yahoo! Group runs the numbers

Link to The LV Series Yahoo! Group runs the numbers
© Jennifer Watson

I just found a Yahoo! Group dedicated to sharing the thoughts and experiences of info_smallLV Series homeowners. LV Series homeowner Gregg started the group in July of 2005:

"Hello. My name is Gregg. I am building an LV Home in Sperryville, VA, about 60 miles west of DC in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains.

The reason I am starting this group is because I have had a lot of questions during this process to which I could not find answers on the web -- the most notable example being the actual cost....I felt it would be a good idea to have a forum for people interested in the home to be able to ask around."

Some of the very first posts had substantive content:
"When I ask[ed] for bid submissions, I insisted on having the contractors do 2 columns: Perryville [Missouri, where the Romero factory is located] and Sperryville [Virginia]. That way, I could see where they deviated heavily from Rocio's estimates. Here are the deviations:

Foundation: +3300 Framing and roof: +5000 Heat, Plumbing, Elec: +1500 Interior Finish: +400

...It fell very close to Rocio's estimate, and I am in one of the most expensive areas of the country."

There have been countless discussions on construction costs, and others about sourcing windows or other products for LV Series homes.

One user, having just finished his LV Home posted a full recap of construction costs, photos and thoughts on the project:

"Note that we did not encounter any big problems during construction. I will say that we were not pleased at all with the costs and do blame our contractor for a lot of the cost madness. But when we solicited bids more than one builder said, "kit or no kits, the cost per square foot will be the same." And that bore out to be true."
(emphasis added)

If you want to build an LV home, this is definitely a must-visit site.

Related Posts:
   1. Tracking the progress of an LVL home (Dec 11, 2007)
   2. 35 homes and counting (Apr 11, 2007)
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