Home News More Philadelphia apartments are being built in a factory and put together later like LEGOs

More Philadelphia apartments are being built in a factory and put together later like LEGOs

by admin
0 comment

One morning last month, a crane swung huge boxes across a clear blue sky, nudging them between apartments under construction on 23rd Street and Race Street. Inside the box were all the elements that make up the house: toilets in the bathroom, closets in the bedrooms, countertops in the kitchen.

The 160-unit Edgewater II is one of the latest projects by Alterra Property Group to use modular construction. In this project, the houses will be assembled off-site and assembled like Lego. Located on Broad Street and Spring Garden Street, LVL North is the Philadelphia developer’s largest modular he property with 410 apartment units. Rentals will start this spring.

That’s also when the company embarked on another multipurpose modular project with 275 apartments on 43rd Street and Chestnut Street. The company plans to continue building in this fashion whenever possible. Given the pace and scale of the project, co-founder and managing partner Leo Addimando said he’s been getting calls from his fellow developers asking for tips.

As construction costs rise, developers are “more willing to try new things,” he said. “And for them it’s not new, but it’s new.”

Philadelphia developers have experimented with this method of construction for decades with varying success. He makes up only 5% to 10% of the construction industry as a whole. In recent years, however, modular construction has become more popular in the city, with industry watchers striving to cut rising costs, attract more workers and meet renter demand. Therefore, it is said that its attractiveness will only increase.

The method doesn’t take over how builders build, says Laura Dwyer, chair of the National Home Builders Association’s Building Systems Council Board of Directors. However, more association members are building parts of their projects offsite.

The project in Philadelphia is also getting bigger. The off-site buildings were reserved primarily for single-family homes. Now more multi-family his developers are modularizing and building more units.

Philadelphia-based Mosaic Development Partners has used modular construction for more than a decade and sees it as a way to keep rents down.

” read more: 352 apartments proposed on Market Street, West Philly

“This is something we believe makes a lot of sense from a design and affordability standpoint,” said co-founder and CEO Greg Reeves. “We firmly believe that it is the way to build.”

In recent years, he’s seen big companies jump into modularity.

“That’s what piqued our interest to think on a larger scale,” he said. I’m here. Sherswood DistrictWe plan to use a modular structure. Development at the Navy Yard.

of apartment demand Carol Christner, CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Apartments, said apartments in the Philadelphia area are outstripping supply and “modular construction will definitely help the industry meet that demand.” rice field.

“For many PAA members, being able to expand their portfolio and offer housing at different price points is a very exciting opportunity,” she said.

The growing interest in modularity is “driven by all the cost pressures that all developers face today,” Addimando said. this spring, The cost of building materials has risen 19% year-over-year, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“I had to find a way to create an equation for construction work,” he said.

” read more: Modularization reduces city construction costs

By building modularly, he said, the total construction cost could be saved by 20%. Projects can be built in half the time and you get rental income faster. Workers build apartments in pieces at the factory while others lay the foundations. Factory work does not have to be suspended due to bad weather.

Alterra Property Group has found modular construction to be cost and time efficient for 100 to 500 units and 4 to 6 floors. Underneath, building onsite is more efficient, he said, Addimando. On top of that, builders may face building code restrictions.

Philadelphia-based Volumetric Building Cos., working with Addimando, started out as a construction company in 2009 but has become a major player in modular manufacturing of multi-family homes in Philadelphia and beyond. This spring, he purchased a 356,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Berwick, Pennsylvania, to serve major cities in the Northeast.

” read more: Philadelphia-area homebuilders continue to struggle despite slowing buyer demand

Founder and CEO Vaughan Buckley plans to keep its Philadelphia headquarters and grow the business there, while expanding from five to 12 plants around the world over the next five years. said.

more Builders and consumers think differently about modular than they did a few years ago. Union builders have grown accustomed to this approach. This method is more accepted in the construction of luxury homes. Modular designs and systems have improved, allowing more architects, engineers and contractors to become familiar and proficient in building methods.

Sara-Ann Logan, VP of Design at Volumetric, said: ”

Modular construction “has had a negative stigma over the years,” said Adimand, particularly of poor quality. But parts are stored and assembled in humidity-controlled factories, and perceptions are changing.

Gary Jonas, president of the Philadelphia Building Industry Association and managing member of Conshohocken-based real estate firm HOW Group, said: Some modular projects.

“Until now, I’ve only heard horror stories about it,” he said. “And now you’re seeing success stories of people doing it right.”

The industry also sees modularity as a way to address a long-standing problem of worker shortages that is projected to worsen. Older workers are retiring and younger workers are choosing less jobs.

The construction industry Attracting nearly 650,000 additional workers in 2022 To meet the demand for labor, according to Associated Builders and Contractors, a trade association for the national construction industry. 2017 Published by the National Center for Construction Education and Research About 41% of construction workers say they will retire by 2031.

Providing construction work in climate-controlled factories with more automated machinery will help attract more workers who are physically unable or unwilling to work in a traditional construction environment. This allows us to diversify our worker pool, such as by hiring more women or people of color.

” read more: How black workers were barred from the best jobs in construction

With a more diverse workforce and a technology-focused factory environment, offsite construction “helps drive innovation,” said Dwyer of the National Association of Home Builders.

Mosaic Development Partners’ Reaves says the industry has basically built homes the same way for a century.

“The question we should ask ourselves is ‘why?'” he said.

When a module leaves the factory, the finishes, appliances, wiring, and plumbing are as perfect as possible. Once the parts arrive on site, the project is “basically put together like a giant erector set,” said James Hocker, regional manager of the East Atlantic Carpenters Regional Council.

The module structure is precision dependent. Your measurements will not deviate even slightly.

General contractors complete on-site work that cannot be done at factories, such as wiring between units and connecting pipes.

Unions were previously skeptical of modular construction, but Hocker said: Otherwise, you’ll be looking inside from the outside. ”

Fees for entry-level positions at Volumetric Building Cos. Berwick’s factory starts at between $18 and $25 an hour.

Unlike traditional construction, all planning for modular projects must be done up front. Builders don’t have the luxury of changing their minds mid-production or making adjustments in the field.

Building Industry Association’s Jonas said he knows people who don’t plan enough, saying, “It’s terrifyingly advanced.” The developer thought it would save him time and money, but it turned out he didn’t have the technical expertise.

“I think people are still a little bit afraid of it,” said Jonas. “Because we have a very narrow skill set to do it right.”

The speed of modular construction is Supply chain delays continueEfficiency suffers when workers have to return to the module to add missing parts.

Especially in Philadelphia, hauling modules around narrow streets and sharp corners is difficult. Finding space for large-scale development is difficult. Building regulations for the City Council District vary greatly.

From a tax standpoint, from a regulatory and affordability standpoint, Philadelphia is the toughest of the cities in which Volumetric Building operates, Buckley said.

“If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere,” he said.

You may also like