by Karl Daubmann
While the aesthetic of modern prefab housing is widely appreciated, it is the logistics that allow for broad distribution. Blu Homes developed a unique hybrid approach between modular and panelized construction to fold their houses for shipping across North America. The folding approach allowed for quick onsite erection and compact shipping dimensions. Bright spaces filled with light, connection to the outdoors, and sustainable building practices are central to the design direction and mirrored in the marketing materials. Transparent, fixed pricing and client customization pushed the internal development of automated design and layout systems along with databases to manage and order building supplies and components. This database was tied directly to an online configurator for client choices with real-time pricing. Structural design and design technology both support the need to permit different projects at state and local jurisdictions depending upon local codes. The fragmentation of the construction industry will be discussed as a limiting factor in the rise of a national prefab model. The presentation will highlight the interconnected relationship between design technology innovations as informed by broad distribution, business ambitions, and the logistics of manufacturing approaches.