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Modular Housing vs. Traditional Housing: How Do They Compare?

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The following content is sponsored by Boxabl

Modular Housing vs. Traditional Housing: How Do They Compare?

The U.S. needs new houses. Lots of them. 

With housing prices nearing six times annual incomes, increasing supply is a must if there is any hope of bringing down house prices, and modular housing could be the solution.

This visualization is the third and final piece of the Reimagining Home Series from our sponsor Boxabl, where we compare the benefits of modular housing against traditional construction methods. Let’s start with the basics.

What Is Modular Housing?

Modular homes are built offsite, in standardized sections, usually in a factory setting. They are then transported to the building site and assembled on a waiting foundation. Once complete, modular homes look just like any other house. 

Modular housing is not the same as manufactured homes, which are also sometimes called mobile homes. Like modular housing, manufactured homes are built offsite in a factory, but the key difference is that they can be moved after being assembled. Modular homes aren’t meant to be moved again after final assembly.

6 Ways Modular Homes Differ to Traditional Homes

The following benefits are based on information from the Modular Home Building Association, as well as a paper given at the 2020 Creative Construction e-Conference by members of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington.

1. Speed of Construction

Because of the piecemeal nature of modular construction, many building activities can be done simultaneously, greatly reducing the overall time of completion. At the same time, because construction happens indoors, weather delays aren’t an issue. Overall, a modular housing project can be completed in 40% less time than using traditional building construction methods.

2. Cost Effectiveness

Standardization of design, less transportation of materials onsite, and the reduced impact of weather are some of the reasons that modular housing can be much cheaper than traditional building methods. According to the authors of the paper, there was a 10-25% decrease in construction costs for modular housing, again, compared to traditional methods.

3. Customizable

A common misconception is that modular housing isn’t customizable. While many manufacturers will often begin with a starter floor plan, they may also offer various customization options throughout the home. 

4. Safety Record

Construction is a dangerous way to make a living. In 2021, construction and extraction workers held the number two spot for fatal occupational injuries in the U.S., with 951 work fatalities.

When you drill down into that number, construction tradespeople are in the majority, by far, with 726 that year alone.

DescriptionFatalities
Transportation and material moving occupations1,523
Construction and extraction occupations951
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations475
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations356
Management occupations323
Protective service occupations302
Production occupations242
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations218
Sales and related occupations200
Food preparation and serving related occupations101
Office and administrative support occupations91
Unknown occupation71
Personal care and service occupations64
Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations57
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations45
Community and social services occupations40
Healthcare support occupations32
Architecture and engineering occupations29
Business and financial operations occupations27
Educational instruction and library occupations16
Legal occupations11
Life, physical, and social science occupations10
Computer and mathematical occupations6
Military occupations0
Total5,190

Because modular construction happens in a controlled, factory environment, the number of accidents decreases by 80% compared to traditional building methods.

5. Environmental Impact

Anyone who has walked past a residential build site can testify to the amount of waste produced during construction. Modular construction is more efficient and therefore produces less waste. And because onsite construction is limited to assembly, there is less dust and noise. Carbon emissions are also 38% lower.

6. Built to Last

Modular housing is as good, if not better constructed, than many traditionally-built houses. The factory environment allows for superior quality control, and homes built this way use 15-20% more wood per square foot, which makes them stronger. Moreover, in a study commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew found that modular housing “performed much better than conventional residential framing.” 

A Market On The Rise

Not only is modular housing cheaper and greener than traditional construction methods, it is also a market on the rise. 

According to a recent report, the global modular construction market is expected to reach $54 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 2.9% between 2021 to 2027.

Thinking Outside of the Box on Housing

Modular housing could be a solution to the housing affordability crisis not only in the U.S., but around the world. And with the global city population expected to hit 68% by 2050, it’s time to think outside the box on housing.

Boxabl uses advanced, mass production techniques to build and ship homes that significantly lower the cost of home ownership for everyone.

This is the final piece in the Reimagining Home Series from our sponsor, Boxabl. Be sure to read parts one and two on urbanization and affordable housing

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Learn more about how Boxabl is helping tackle the housing affordability crisis.

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