Pre-fabricated (or modular) housing has been around for a very long time and has always carried with it a certain stigma of being “cheap.” Cheap to build and filled with cheap materials. It’s long been an inexpensive alternative for people who couldn’t afford to site build. But that all could be about to change with a new trend toward high-performance, energy-efficient pre-fab housing emerging.

It all started at the 2016 International Builders’ Show where several modular homes were on display outside of the convention center. One was four stories high designed for areas where land is at a premium. Pre-fab was one of the hottest topics at the show.

Then, throughout the course of the year, the topic came up more frequently, even on a DIY show called Breakneck Builds. While watching the show, I was shocked to learn that the new wave of pre-fab homes are not cheap and they offer many features not common in site-built homes, including hurricane resistant designs and highly energy-efficient materials. I was even more shocked to learn pre-fab makes up 3 percent of commercial construction specializing in areas such as medical care facilities, where similar attributes are repeated dozens to hundreds of times in a single project.

The View from Here is that while high-performance pre-fab homes might be a niche now, the potential growth could be great as consumers continue to shop for energy-efficient features at the best possible value. Are pre-fab builders in my area looking for energy-efficient windows and doors? Chances are they are – and you could be the one to help them.

If you are attending IBS 2017 January 10-12 in Orlando, you’ll find several educational sessions on the agenda geared toward energy-efficient modular homebuilding that you might want to check out. Meanwhile, you can learn more by reading this great case study on one company that is pioneering the pre-fab transformation.

What’s your View? Email me directly at Eric.Jackson@Quanex.com.

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