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Builder eyeing 'modular construction' homes for affordable housing units in SD County

Builder eyeing 'modular construction' home for affordable housing units in SD County
Posted at 3:40 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 22:05:55-05

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - Multifamily affordable housing — built inside a factory and assembled room by room — could soon be headed to San Diego County.

Last year, ABC 10News traveled to Factory OS in the Bay Area, where apartment complexes are being constructed room by room. Modular units are moved along on an assembly line: floors, dry wall, windows, then electrical, counters, and so on.

When the units are completed, they are trucked to the construction site, and assembled like legos.

“Not only can I build faster, but I can build for less,” said Bill Cavanaugh, co-founder of US Modular. He is based in San Marcos.

Cavaugh says modular construction is in its infancy stage in the San Diego area, but it has arrived.

“We're in Carlsbad. This is a home we built with modular construction,” said Cavanaugh, as he stood before a two-story home on James Drive.

The house is a 2,800-square-foot Craftsman style home. The first floor of the garage was built on site, but the rest of it was assembled at a factory in Arizona.

SIx modular units, created on an assembly line, were transported to the location, and put together in a day.

Within 60 days, the electrical and other finishings were complete.

Cavanaugh says modular construction homes can cost as much as 15% less, thanks to the assembly line savings. He says a faster build also reduces the construction loan.

“About a $50,000 savings on this Carlsbad home, as opposed to if it was site-built,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh's company, which has built more than 75 similar homes across Southern California, is now eyeing affordable housing.

Partnering with an Los Angeles-based affordable housing developer, they've created designs for a craftsman style home with eight one-bedroom, 400-square-foot units.

Cavanaugh says they are looking for the right property in the San Diego area.

“We are looking for a teardown in a neighborhood that has the appropriate zoning. It allows multifamily, and it might be in a transit district,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh believes his model will become another option for affordable housing developments in the future.

“If you can build it faster and can get people into housing faster, it’s a double win, because you've built it less expensively,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh hopes to have his first ‘eight-plex' affordable housing project built in San Diego County within a year and a half.

Cavanaugh says so far, there haven’t been large modular apartment projects in San Diego, because of the economics. Because the cost of construction is higher in Los Angeles and San Francisco, the cost savings are higher in those areas.