NorCal homebuilders have new take on future of prefabricated housing, wildfire safety

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Wednesday, February 1, 2023
NorCal homebuilders have new take on future of prefabricated housing
Northern California homebuilders have a new take on the future of prefabricated housing and wildfire safety.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Modular homes have been around for decades and often have a stigma of only being for people with financial challenges.

But some local companies are trying to change that.

They're also addressing a major concern in California: wildfires.

Demand for modular homes has been going down for years. In fact, census data analyzed by the National Association of Home Builders shows just 2% of single-family home sales were modular homes in 2021.

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But some Northern California companies are betting on them for the future -- making them fashionable, eco-friendly and even fire safe.

Homebuilding company Dvele built a modern, eco-friendly prefabricated home now located in Santa Rosa in less than 16 weeks in a fire rebuild area, much faster than a traditional build.

Their homes are fire-resilient and self-powered, running on clean energy from solar panels and also have a battery backup system. This allows residents to still have access to electricity and appliances if there's a forest fire disconnecting a powerline.

Dvele homes have advanced built-in air filtration systems that will help if there's a wildfire nearby.

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"Anecdotally I've seen some banks saying, 'Hey, just make the loan amount $647,201, and we can give you a point lower rate,'" says one expert.

Their homes have sustainable and smart-tech features.

"Where we take it one step further, especially with today's focus on sustainability and green initiatives and doing good for the environment is, we try to use as many recycled and sustainable products as possible," said Kellan Hannah, Dvele's director of Growth. "One example is our steel structure that the entire home is made out of, floors, walls and ceilings. That's 95% recycled, like aged steel."

Veev is another company that makes prefabricated smart homes.

The company said it's taken a turnkey panelized approach to home construction. That means faster, cost-effective building, which reduces the amount of waste and emissions.

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Veev said the housing crisis and labor shortage have homebuyers looking at alternative methods and means.

Manufactured homes take less time to build since they're built at a factory and not on site and are typically less expensive.

NAHB said despite the low number of overall sales, there is a high interest in these types of homes.

Dvele said prices start at $300,000 for a single module and go up.

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