July 24, 2019
Construction Firm Pumps Out a Three-Flat in 90 Days, Instead of 9 Months
How long does it take to build three-flat? A reasonable estimate might be nine months, but one Chicago-based builder has it down to just 90 days.
How are they pulling off this feat? Skender, a Chicago-based construction firm, has a prefab construction method that includes some high-tech features, like an app that tells staff when one part of the project is lagging behind. The result is a highly coordinated workflow that makes the most of every day.
Cost-Effective and Timely
Skender and other firms aiming to speed up the construction process are responding to a nation-wide trend: an enormous lack of housing supply for both renters and first-time buyers. As real estate agents know, not only do we need more housing options for renters and first-time buyers, but we also need to make those options more affordable.
Three-flats, which are dominant among multi-family buildings in Chicago, feature three units, each of which has the layout of a small single-family home.
So is factory-like construction the solution for pumping out more of these units?
How Prefab Construction Works
Skender’s factory is 100,000 square feet, allowing them to produce steel-structured flats with welding that’s accurate to 1/1000 of an inch. The design of each apartment is almost exactly the same, due to code restrictions and the need for efficiency. However, about 15% of the units they produce are variable.
Contrary to what you might expect, Skender isn’t a new tech startup; it’s a family-owned construction firm with a long history in Chicago that’s thinking outside the box.
Skender has an app with every step of the construction process listed. As things are completed, workers check them off. It’s easier for crews to stay in sync and to divert resources where they are needed to stay on schedule. Though there are no robots on the Skender line yet, the company does intend to add them where they are most needed as funding becomes available.
When the units leave the factory, they are 95% complete. They are shipped to their new home and attached with some more welding and a bolt-and-pin system. The company also adds brick and stone to the façade for a more grounded look.
This scale and type of construction enable Skender to produce housing units for less. Right now, the total is an estimated $335,000, not including the cost of land, which the company hopes to drop lower with scale. The result should be more affordable housing — perhaps the type your clients would be interested in!
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