Bay Area residents choosing prefab homes to save time and money

BURLINGAME, Calif. (KGO) -- As part of Building a Better Bay Area, we're constantly looking at alternate ways to ease the housing crisis. One company in Southern California is building modular constructed homes in the Bay Area and is looking to buck the perception of "prefab."

If you blink, you might miss what's happening at construction site in Burlingame where a nearly 5,000-square-foot home unfolded before our very eyes.

"It's pretty amazing. Just yesterday it was just a hole in the ground and now we're standing on the second floor," said homeowner Byron Lee as he smiled.

In just two days, the 6-bedroom home by custom builders "Plant Prefab" will be standing, ready for finishes. According to the architect of the project, Toby Long, having the home constructed off-site in the Los Angeles area while a Bay Area crew worked on the foundation helps save time.

RELATED: Luxurious prefab homes could help solve Bay Area contractor shortage

"Modular building methodology generally can save about 30 percent on overall construction schedule," says Long.

In addition to speed and convenience, lower building costs have increased the demand for pre-fab housing. Just last year, Amazon invested in Plant as it touted it's own smart home products, like voice-activated assistant Alexa.

Companies like "Rent The Backyard" are using pre-fab models from other builders to give homeowners an "in-law" unit to rent out on their property. Plant says they also build smaller units for this same purpose across the Bay Area but are fully customizable.

"I think the tides have changed in the past five or 10 years. We're seeing a much higher demand than I've ever experienced in the Bay Area particularly," says Long.

RELATED: A look at life in Northern California's first and only (legal) tiny house community

Plant estimates the average cost of one of their homes is about $250 to $350 a square foot. The company says this includes finishes, fixtures and appliances but not transport, installation or foundation. In Burlingame the average home is about $1,100 or $1,200 per foot. Including finishes and other building costs brings Byron's total home cost to just under $4 million, or under $1,000 a square foot.

"Buying the land wasn't cheap. This is after all the Bay Area so that was a big chunk of our budget," says Byron.

If all goes well, his family hopes to move in by January.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.