Dorm Project In East Bay, CA Seeks to Improve Image of Factory-Built Housing

According to a March 21st report by the East Bay Times, California is continuing to do its part to change public misconceptions of factory-built housing. The state’s latest effort comes in the form of a newly installed residential project near Gilman Street in Berkeley, CA. The project is a modular dormitory for East Bay nonprofit organization Urban Adamah.

Factory-Built Housing — Fast, Custom-Built, and Sustainable

Dramatically cutting the building time of projects is a hallmark of prefabricated housing and prefab homes. Steve Glenn is CEO of Plant Prefab, the factory-built housing company selected for the dormitory. According to Mr. Glenn, the Berkeley project was completed in about half the time of conventional building methods.

At their facility in Southern California, Planet Prefab assembled the 16-unit, 6,600-square-foot dormitory in four months. Once it was brought to Urban Adamah’s Sixth Street campus, it took just two days to install.

But prefab construction, manufactured homes, and modular homes also have an undeserved reputation of lacking design flexibility and being lower quality. Like so many others in the industry, Plant Prefab is working to set the record straight.

Urban Adamah selected the Rialto, California-based company in part because it stresses building custom homes using sustainable materials and practices. In fact, Plant Prefab calls itself “the first prefabricated home factory in the nation dedicated to sustainable construction, materials, processes and operations”. The company custom builds homes from designs provided by customers or its design partners.

“We source as much as possible from recycled materials,” including glass, fiber, and drywall, Glenn told the East Bay Times.

Low-flow water fixtures and low-VOC paints are also used.

Modular Construction a Perfect Fit for Multifamily Projects

Unlike conventional building methods, construction and site preparation for factory-built housing can take place at the same time.

“It dramatically reduces the total time frame,” Glenn said. “But it’s not just a reduced schedule. The major construction takes place off-site, with trucks and traffic moved to the remote site in Rialto. It saves substantial disruption.”

Glenn said the structures his company makes are are typically 90 percent complete when delivered.

This month, Plant Prefab installed a 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom designed to LEED Platinum standards. Done in the Napa fire area, the company completed the installation in two hours.

The prefab home builder is also starting a multi-story project soon in Oakland.

“Our next project is an eight-unit multiple family building in Fruitvale on a super-dense lot,” Glenn said. “It’s supposed to start in the next month or two.”

Adding a permanent dormitory is a major step for Urban Adamah as it continues to establish its new campus.

The organization began on a vacant property on San Pablo Avenue. In 2016, they received enough donations to acquire and move to their new site on Sixth Street.

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