Bringing Down the House

Module house in Pittsburgh

Housing inventory is at historic lows and skilled laborers needed to construct new homes are in increasingly short supply. Now, imagine a day where a high-quality house is constructed in only 6 weeks by unskilled workers in an affordable manner. Enter, a number of new high-tech plants popping up in the rust belt in an effort to help the economies of towns that suffered after the last housing crisis. These factories, using robots to fill the void of skilled human labor, are able to develop and produce the majority of the home in a controlled and efficient environment. Then the individual chunks of the home (e.g. entire bathrooms including the drywall and tile) are transported to the construction site and assembled in no time. But this not your grandmother’s pre-fab… these new modular houses are about quality, rather than quantity — a mantra that resonates with millennials who cannot afford nor identify with the ‘McMansions’ of the past.

Last week I had the pleasure of joining a panel in Pittsburgh with David Wechsler (Sr. Director, Channels & Partnerships, Xfinity Home), Michael Dickens (Partner, IBACOS) and Sandy Albert (Director of Acquisitions, Common) where we discussed the future of housing (watch it here).

Here are the 3 takeaways:

  1. Given the rising price of home ownership, the “holy grail for home building” in the next 10 years will be a house that costs between $150k — $300k.
  2. A connected home isn’t just for tech-hungry millennials. Thinking about how a connected home can enable older generations to “age-in place” is a huge market.
  3. The future of the connected home is incorporating technology in the design and building phases so that smart technology lives “in the walls”.