Is Prefab the Answer to Our Affordable Housing Crisis?
America is in a housing crisis, and Los Angeles is at the center of it all.
When people think of the housing crisis, they often consider the millions of renters nationwide who can’t afford rapidly increasing rent and other fixed housing costs. First-time buyers can be priced out of their own neighborhood or aspiring homeowners shut out of the market entirely.
But there are other groups in trouble, too:
- The millions of Americans struggling daily to maintain a home.
- Those who have outgrown a home but cannot afford a new one.
- Those who spend most of their monthly income on their home.
Any one of these situations can turn the American dream into the American nightmare. And no matter how responsible and conscientious they are, many homeowners will suffer at least one – if not several – of these situations over the years.
According to analysts working at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, affordable housing should be defined as housing for which the occupants pay no more than 30% of their income. That should include all recurring costs, such as utilities and insurance.
Where does the total cost of housing stand here in Los Angeles? It can be anywhere from 70% to 80% of the average homeowner’s income each month.
No wonder we’re overwhelmed by the current housing crisis: It affects each and every one of us!
Outdated Construction Methods Trigger Today’s Rising Housing Costs
There may be some elements of the housing crisis no one can control, like rising land costs.
However, the single biggest contributor is one we can choose to control: Construction costs.
Although new construction standards have been instituted over the years in the United States, they are slow to be implemented – and far slower to be felt by the homeowner at large.
Even if you don’t know much about construction, you’ve seen the effects this delay can have: It’s the reason why so many homeowners still need to be alert to the dangers of asbestos and lead paint, even though efforts to ban both of these substances date back to the 1970s.
The story is just as dire for many other areas of residential construction, including aspects that don’t get nearly as much publicity. From floor to ceiling, most of today’s homes have a wide range of problems that seriously affect their longevity and cost of ownership.
- Homes use too much material, inflating costs while lengthening construction time.
- Most homes are top-heavy and bottom-light, making them less structurally sound.
- Virtually all homes have decentralized infrastructure, making any repairs costly.
- Homes are vulnerable to leakage since high-stress areas are designed into them.
New residential construction is most likely to avoid some of these problems, but of course, it is the most costly and time-consuming. And forget about finding the right home by exploring the existing housing stock. Almost all of today’s available single-family homes are outdated.
How can that be true? Just consider these facts:
- The median age of owner-occupied housing is 37 years, an increase of six years from just a decade ago.
- Thirty-eight percent of U.S. housing was constructed in 1969 or earlier.
There’s no escaping the conclusion that something is seriously wrong with the housing stock. High cost of ownership isn’t the only problem, however. Even brand new construction suffers from inflated costs brought on by a lack of expertise and a failure of imagination.
Cost-Stuffing Starts as Homes Are Built – and That Cost Goes to You
Although there are some best practices for building a new home on time and within budget, they are not evenly applied throughout the construction industry. Individual construction firms and even the teams within them all have different approaches, leading to inconsistent results.
Because companies reinvent the wheel with every project, they inflate costs at every step.
This leads to:
Unpredictable Costs of Material Consumption
Basic materials in construction can fluctuate rapidly in price due to market factors. At the same time, cost estimation in traditional home construction is extremely imprecise. Experience helps account for some issues, but not all, and time overruns inevitably feed cost overruns.
Oversized and Underskilled Construction Crews
Construction staffing is notoriously chaotic. Just like raw material price, staff levels change rapidly based on overall market conditions. Many construction firms have difficulty retaining experienced personnel and will look to cut headcount whenever demand is low.
Of course, housing demand is cyclical. When it inevitably increases again, buyers pay the price. Surge hiring increases direct costs to homeowners while reducing quality. At the same time, the least reliable and least experienced personnel end up in charge of new projects.
Construction Delays and Bottlenecking
Failures in staffing and sourcing throughout construction inevitably lead to bottlenecks. Those, in turn, are made worse by inconsistencies in the design of individual homes. This feeds into an ongoing cycle where projects can get bogged down for months and costs balloon out of control.
When It Comes to Affordability, Modern Prefabricated Housing Is the Solution
No matter if you look at it in terms of upfront investment or long-term cost of ownership, an affordable prefabricated home is the best answer to the housing crisis. Prefab can resolve many of the problems traditional construction takes for granted.
In short: Traditional home construction is a guessing game, and it shows.
With a reputable prefab home manufacturer, you get a systematized, process-based approach. The home you create is a customized reflection of your desires and style – but the underlying factors that go into it can be precisely controlled and held to the highest standards.
When it comes to the housing crisis in Los Angeles and beyond, we can’t make more land, but we can control production costs with prefabricated residential construction.
In the modern prefab home revolution, Proto Homes stands at the forefront. Our combination of engineering and construction expertise ensures the best outcomes every time.
Skip the house construction guessing games and go with Proto Homes.
For answers to all your questions, contact us today.