As blogged on TreeHugger.com, we have seen many ups and downs in the prefab world, but they may be getting it right this time.
This TreeHugger has watched many bold initiatives in prefabricated housing come and go. When Katerra launched I wondered if it was going to be any different. I concluded that “I really, really want Katerra to succeed. But I have seen this movie before. In fact, it gets remade every generation.”
But as every real estate developer says after every downturn, “This time it’s different.” Reading Katerra’s case study about their K90 Building Project, it actually might be. Katerra notes that “some 70 percent of construction projects come in overtime and over budget” and that the traditional General Contractor of Construction Manager process is “cumbersome, inefficient, and no longer viable in the face of growing demand for housing… Katerra is working to change this, applying methods and tools such as digital technology, offsite manufacturing, and fully-integrated teams in an effort to improve construction productivity.”
K90 looks like your garden variety garden apartment complex. But instead of taking about 140 days to build, they did it in 90, at lower cost, and with higher quality, by using a “manufacturing mindset.”
James Timberlake has been talking about this for years – how the cheapest car can drive into a rainstorm at 70 MPH and not leak, but most buildings can barely be left out in the rain. He called for thinking about making buildings more like the way we make cars. Katerra writes: