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Prefabricated Housing: A Solution for Affordable Housing In Sacramento County

Presented to The Faculty of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning

San Jose State University

In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Urban Planning

By

Gerard Fuentes May 24, 2007

Prefabricated Housing: A Solution for Affordable Housing in Sacramento County

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents ................................................................................................................ 1 List of Figures ..................................................................................................................... 4 Chapter 1 - Introduction ...................................................................................................... 5 Chapter 2 - County of Sacramento: Demographics and Housing Trends ........................... 7 Present Situation of the Housing Market in Sacramento County ................................... 9  Present Affordable Housing Situation in Sacramento County ..................................... 11  The Causes for the Need of Affordable Housing.......................................................... 13  Sacramento County as an Ideal Location for Prefabricated Housing ........................... 14 Chapter 3 - Prefabricated Housing Defined ...................................................................... 15  Brief History of Prefabricated Housing ........................................................................ 15  The Lack of Prefabricated Housing in the Marketplace ............................................... 22  Types of Prefabricated Housing.................................................................................... 23  Modular Systems ...................................................................................................... 23  Panelized Systems ..................................................................................................... 26 Chapter 4 - Prefabricated Housing: Case Studies ............................................................. 28  Dupont Modular Bathrooms ......................................................................................... 28  Sophia Three-Generation Modular Houses .................................................................. 30  Tilt-Up Slab House ....................................................................................................... 31  Pierson Modular Building ............................................................................................. 33  The Next Home ............................................................................................................. 35  Boeing – A Company On The Edge ............................................................................. 36  Prefabrication as an Ideal Method for Affordable Housing......................................... 38

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Chapter 5 - Prefabricated Housing in Sacramento County: Challenge and Recommedations ............................................................................................................... 39 The Challenges of Prefabricated Housing in Sacramento County................................ 39  Negative Public Perception ....................................................................................... 39  The Lack of Assistance By The Federal And Local Governments In The Development Of Prefabricated Housing ................................................................... 40  The Resistance of Labor Unions ............................................................................... 41  Recommendations To Successfully Implement Prefabricated Housing ....................... 43 Chapter 6 - Conclusion ..................................................................................................... 46 Bibliography ..................................................................................................................... 48 

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List of Figures Figure 2.1: Cities with 40% or more of the Population to be Low Income Households

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Figure 3.1: Interior of the Crystal Palace by Sir Joseph Paxton

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Figure 3.2: Assembly Line of Model T Factory

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Figure 3.3: Advertisements for Sear, Roebuck, and Co. Mail-Order Homes

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Figure 3.4: Sketch of Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino House

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Figure 3.5: Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller

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Figure 3.6: Panoramic View of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34

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Figure 3.7: Construction of the Quonset Hut

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Figure 3.8: Advertisement of Levittown Homes

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Figure 3.9: Aerial Photo of Levittown, New Jersey

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Figure 3.10: Case Study House No. 8 – Charles and Ray Eames House Studio

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Figure 3.11: Typical Mobile Home

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Figure 3.12: MDU House by Lot-Ek

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Figure 3.13: LV House by Rocio Romero

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Figure 3.14: Prefabricated Bathroom Unit

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Figure 3.15: Construction of Prefabricated Bathroom Unit

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Figure 3.16: Construction of Panelized Wall System

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Figure 4.1: Construction of Tilt-Up Slab House

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Figure 4.2: Modular Unit being set into place by a crane

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Figure 4.3: Construction and completion of the dormitory at Yale University

33

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Chapter 1 - Introduction How can the construction of prefabricated housing units improve the existing affordable housing problem in Sacramento County? For more than a century, prefabricated housing has been a tool employed by architects, contractors, developers and urban planners throughout the world to increase the production of affordable housing for lower-income households. The basic purpose of prefabricated housing is to ensure affordable housing through an expedient process of construction. Prefabricated housing is an innovative construction method that could provide the residents of Sacramento County with more available and affordable housing. The unique features are the low cost, strength, ease, and the speed of prefabricated housing are ideal for areas in need of immediate housing.1

While prefabrication does not and will not serve as the only tool to address the County’s ongoing affordable housing problem, prefabrication has the potential to increase housing opportunities for families and individuals with limited economic means. For many households in the County, owning a home is out of reach because of the costs of buying a home in the area. If more affordable homes were constructed near centers of employment, then more residents could work closer to home. In addition, this type of construction could be a solution to blighted and dilapidated areas, if prefabricated housing were built as infill in existing neighborhoods. Prefabrication holds the promise to produce thousands of affordable units. This report defines prefabricated development and investigates how it should be encouraged in the county of Sacramento, California.

Chapter Two introduces and explores the historical context of the housing situation in the County of Sacramento. It touches on the housing market’s present situation and spatial distribution; an overview of Sacramento County’s affordable housing situation; the causes for the need of affordable housing and the spatial distribution of affordable housing and the reasons for the distribution. In addition, there is an exploration why Sacramento County is an ideal location for prefabricated housing.

1

Jill Herbers, Prefab Modern (New York: HarperCollins International, 2004), 31.

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Chapter Three attempts to define prefabricated housing for Sacramento County through, firstly, describing a brief history of prefabricated housing. Furthermore, a discussion of why there is a lack of prefabricated housing in the marketplace. This chapter will also explore different types of prefabricated housing between two systems, which are the modular and panelized systems of prefabricated construction.

Chapter Four explores particular case studies of prefabricated housing in recent years. The exploration will be on the DuPont modular bathroom; Sophia Three-Generation modular houses; Tilt-Up Slab house; Pierson modular building; and the Next Home. The chapter will discuss the Boeing Company and its advancements in the industry of prefabricated housing. Furthermore, the chapter will explore the solution each case study can provide to the affordable housing problem in the County.

Chapter Five presents the challenges towards prefabricated housing applicable to Sacramento County. The challenges include the negative perception of prefabricated housing; the lack of assistance by the federal and local governments in the development of prefabricated housing; and the resistance of labor unions. The chapter concludes with recommendations to successfully implement prefabricated housing in Sacramento County.

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Chapter 2 - County of Sacramento: Demographics and Housing Trends The population in Sacramento County has been increasing due to “low interest rates, expanding employment and increased in-migration from the Bay Area due to affordability relative to higher priced coastal areas.”2 These are reasons more families are moving into the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the County. Due to the population increase in the County because of the lack of affordable homes in other counties, this has greatly influenced the policies and regulations of ensuring affordable homes in Sacramento County. The chapter will give an overview of the jurisdiction’s affordable housing situation, which will attempt to identify the factors that affect the affordable housing situation in the County.

Sacramento County’s population has steadily increased in the past twenty years compared to the years before 1990. The Sacramento County Housing Element Update report, which was written by the Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department, states that between 1990 and 2000, the population within the County increased by 18% from 1,041,219 to 1,223,499. The largest increase in population within the County was in the City of Sacramento, which was estimated at 39,000 residents. From 2000 to 2002, Sacramento County’s population increased to nearly 1.28 million, which is an increase of 5% since the 2000 Census.3

As the population within the County steadily increased, the diversity of ages in the area had similarly increased. The largest part of the population in the area was persons between the ages 35 to 54 years old. The median age of the population in the County ranged from 31 – 39 years old.

2

HUD User, Policy Development and Research Information Service, <http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/SacramentoCAComp.pdf> [1 October 2005], p. 7-8. 3 Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department, Sacramento County Housing Element Update, <http://www.saccounty.net/planning/housing-element/docs/draft-housing-elementfinal.pdf> [1 October 2005], Section 5-1.

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Also within the County, one and two-person households comprised the majority of Sacramento Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s households. The City of Sacramento has the largest percentage of small households comprising of one or two persons, which was 62% of the population.

In terms of the economic status of the households within Sacramento County, the report stated the median household incomes increased 36% countywide between 1990 and 2000. Family incomes in the County and City of Sacramento increased more modestly (between 27 and 34%).4 Also, there was a relationship with the earned income within the various age ranges in the County. The median income for households under the age of 25 was about $21,000 in 2000. The median household income increased to just over $46,000 by age 35 to 44 and nearly $55,000 for households age 55 to 64. Household incomes declined as heads-of-household entered retirement years to $40,000 for households age 65 to 74 and to $36,000 for householdsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; age 75 or more.5 The median family income for the year 2000 in the County was $43,816.6

Finally, the issue of poverty is being addressed to provide adequate housing for the 14% of low-income families below the poverty level within the County. According to the 2000 Census, most communities within the County had poverty rates between 9 and 14%.7 As stated previously, there was a relationship between age and household income, which is also apparent with the poverty within the County.

The existing demographics in the County indicate the necessity for the need of affordable housing in the area. The 18% increase in the population with a majority of the individuals within the age range of 35 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 54 means more housing units need to be built to house these working professionals. Furthermore, the demographic information can imply more young families are moving into the County for a variety of reasons, so more housing has to be provided for these families. The paper will continue to examine the present situation of the housing market within the County. 4

Ibid., Section 5-6. Ibid., Section 5-7. 6 Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department, Section 11-1. 7 Ibid., Section 5-10. 5

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Present Situation of the Housing Market in Sacramento County The housing marketâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s present situation and distribution of housing within Sacramento County is complex due to various factors, which has affected the incorporated area of the County. As the Planning and Community Development Department of the County has reported, 58% of households are homeowners compared to 68.7% nationwide.8 This is due to the increasing price of homes in comparison to incomes within the area. Between 1990 and 2000, homeownership in Sacramento County increased slightly. Even though there has been a slight increase in homeowners, the increase in home prices has greatly exceeded the increase in individual incomes. As a result, the percent of Sacramento households that can afford to purchase the median-priced home declined from 51% at the end of 2001 to 47% in 2002.9

There is a direct relationship between the age of an individual and the median household income, so older adults are more likely to be homeowners. This observation is consistent with any city in the United States. According to the 2000 Census, only 30% of households age 34 or less were homeowners. Furthermore, two-thirds of householders were homeowners by age 45. Homeownership peaked at 78% between ages 65 and 74.10 In accordance to household size and homeownership, single individuals and large families of six or more have homeownership rates of 50% or less, while other households have homeownership rates ranging from 52% to 62%.11 Single-person households are most likely to be younger households or seniors over age 75, who cannot afford homes or who have sold their homes and live in rented housing.

Within the County, an estimated 50,000 new and existing homes were sold in the housing market in 2003. Also, new home sales increased in the County from 12,216 to 15,285 between 2000 and 2003. Data from First American Real Estate Solutions indicated that new home sales in Sacramento County alone averaged 4,900 annually during the period 8

US Census Bureau American FactFinder, Household Population and Household Type by Tenure: 2000, <http://factfinder.census.gov> [6 May 2007]. 9 Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department, Section 5-20. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid.

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from 2000 to 2003, or a 6-percent annual increase.12 The existing home sales in the County averaged 19,100 units from 2000 to 2003. For the first and second halves of the 1990s, existing sales averaged 12,900 and 13,800 units annually in Sacramento County.13 In 2003, the median price for new homes increased approximately to $393,400.14

In terms of rental housing, rent increases averaged just 1.5 percent in 2003 over 2002, reflecting the balanced but more competitive conditions.15 In order to account for the increase of households renting units and to prepare for a population increase in the future, Sacramento County already accounts for approximately 50 percent of the surge in permits, averaging 2,100 annually from 2000 to the current date, and will receive a larger share of the new construction to target its diverse market.16 The surge in permits is necessary because more new housing units need to be built in order to house the increased population within the County.

The condition of the existing single-family homes within the County ranged from substandard to fair because of the low maintenance of these units and the construction of new housing units in particular cities. Within the County, nearly 100,000 dwelling units are more than 40 years old and are the most at risk of becoming substandard. Another 50,000 are more than 30 years old and may show signs of deterioration if not adequately maintained.17 The largest number of single-family units in need of moderate and extensive rehabilitation is located in the South Sacramento / Parkway and North Highlands areas. Also, moderate rehabilitation is required in the Auburn Boulevard / Marconi area, the Fulton / Arden area (Arden-Arcade community), and in the City of Rancho Cordova.18

The condition of the existing multi-family housing units within the County reveals that a majority of structures require little or no rehabilitation work. Approximately 51% (806 12

Ibid. Ibid. 14 Ibid. 15 Policy Development and Research Information Service of HUD User, p. 10. 16 Ibid. 17 Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department, Section 5-22. 18 Ibid., Section 5-24. 13

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structures) of the total structures surveyed were found to be in good condition, 44% (694 structures) were in fair condition and in need of moderate rehabilitation, and 5% (87 structures) required extensive rehabilitation. The South Sacramento / Parkway area has the highest number of multi-family unit structures requiring extensive rehabilitation (38 structures), followed by the City of Rancho Cordova (33 structures) and the Watt / Marconi area (14 structures).19

Even though there is a 50% surge in permits to develop more housing units, the County will need to develop more affordable housing for its existing and future population. The development for more affordable housing for younger single-person households or seniors over age 75 is necessary for these age groups who cannot afford homes within the County. As previously stated, the median income for households under the age of 25 was about $21,000 and households’ age 75 or more was $36,000. Unfortunately, the median price for new homes increased approximately to $393,400. The County needs to address the production of more affordable housing for this portion of the population.

Present Affordable Housing Situation in Sacramento County The population in Sacramento County has increased due to low interest rates, expanding employment, and increased immigration from the Bay Area due to more affordable housing compared to higher priced areas. As previously stated, 14% of the total Sacramento County residents had incomes below poverty level. The cities within Sacramento County which has recorded 40% or more of its population to be low income households in the year of 2000 were Rio Linda – Elverta (47%), South Natomas (48%), Carmichael (45%), Southeast (42%), North Highlands (60%), Arden – Arcade (49%), Rancho Cordova (47%), Citrus Heights (47%), Galt (48%), Isleton (60%), and Sacramento (56%) (see Figure 1.1).20 These percentages for low income households within a particular area are based upon households who earned less than 80% of the median family income for Sacramento County based on the Department of Housing and

19 20

Ibid. Ibid.

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Urbann Developm ment (HUD) income i guiddelines in 20000.21 Furtheermore, the County C classiifies househo olds who earrn 50% of thhe median faamily incomee as very low w income famillies and housseholds whoo earn 30% of o the mediann family incoome as extreemely low incom me families, under the feederal governnmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s defiinitions.22

Citrus Heeights Norrth Highland ds Ardden-Arcade

Rancho Cordova C Sacramennto South Saccramento

Southeastt Galt

Isleeton

% or more off the Populaation to be Low L Incomee Figurre 2.1: Citiees with 40% Housseholds Sourcee of GIS Map: County of Saccramento, <httpp://www.sacgiss.org/saccountyy.htm > [3 Deccember 2006]

21

Ibidd. Sacrramento Housiing Alliance, Who W Needs Affoordable Housinng?, <http://ww ww.sachousinggalliance.org/> > [10 Deecember 2005]]. 22

Prefabbricated Housin ng: A Solution for Affordablee Housing in Sacramento S Couunty

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The Causes for the Need of Affordable Housing In the Sacramento County Housing Element 2003 Update, the County summarized and quantified the existing and future housing needs and assessed the special housing needs of the area. There were several findings within the county that were important to address, which are listed below.

1. Housing prices for new and existing homes increased rapidly in the past decade.

2. Rents also increased rapidly during the past decade. A slowdown in the regional economy has moderated rent increases since 2001, but long-term prospects are for continued rapid gains in rents over the next five years, unless the stock of rental housing increases significantly.23

3. Overcrowding and overpayment among lower income households increased in the County.

4. Sacramento County will need to plan for, and accommodate, 19,465 new housing units between 2000 and 2008.24 Of these housing units, 43% (8,388 units) should be affordable to households earning less than 80% of the Sacramento County median income and 19% (3,778 units) to households earning 80 to 120% of median income.25

5. The population 65 years and older increased by 25% in Sacramento County between 1990 and 2000 and could increase another 19% over the next decade.26 There is a critical need for affordable housing to meet the financial and physical needs of seniors.

23

Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department, Section 8-2 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid. 24

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6. Low-income families with children are at greatest risk of experiencing overcrowding and overpayment, especially large families.

7. The population with disabilities and self-care limitations has increased. This portion is probably due to the consequence of the aging population.

8. Although agriculture in Sacramento County had declined with urbanizations, farm workers still comprise a significant part of the labor force â&#x20AC;&#x201C; about 4,000 workers with migrant farm workers numbering up to 1,300 during peak months.27 Farm worker families usually experience overcrowding, overpayment, and substandard housing conditions due to the lack of affordable housing.

9. Sacramento County has experienced an increase in the homeless population over the past decade. Over 5,000 persons are homeless at some point during the year.28

Sacramento County as an Ideal Location for Prefabricated Housing As mentioned above, Sacramento County has several existing characteristics that make it an ideal place to implement prefabricated housing. The rising housing prices have limited access to an individual or family from owning a single family home. The recent increase in housing prices in the past decade has dramatically reduced housing affordability in Sacramento County. Housing production in the County has to adapt to meet the changing economic conditions, and the current market is receptive to innovative approaches to housing.

27 28

Ibid. Ibid.

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Chapter 3 - Prefabricated Housing Defined The difficult circumstances the residents of Sacramento County face to find affordable housing is the reason to explore the mass production of prefabricated housing. Every resident in the County deserves the basic need of shelter to have a more vigorous life. Even though there are different classifications of prefabrication, this report will focus upon two distinct ways this technology can be applied for housing. First, if applied to the development of communities or in-fill, the modular system or panelized system of prefabricated housing can be a solution to the current housing problem because it can be built faster and cheaper than conventional construction. Second, abandoned or dilapidated buildings can be renovated with prefabricated components, such as kitchen and bathroom components.29

Brief History of Prefabricated Housing Prefabricated housing is a construction method that has been in existence since the 17th century. The migration of people from one country to another created a need for costeffective housing that can be constructed quickly and ideally portable enough to salvage when it is time to move on. In 1624, the shipping of temporary housing for fishing fleets from a country of origin was primarily panelized wood houses from England.30 The method of construction usually implemented the notching of building corners to assist in the expedient and efficient building of these structures. Throughout the next several centuries, the use of wood and the discovery of cast-iron during the Industrial Revolution continued the exploration of this construction technique. The first prefabricated cast-iron house was completed in England in 1830.31 House kits provided temporary housing for miners during the California gold rush of 1849.32 Architectural monuments such as the Crystal Palace designed by Sir Joseph Paxton (see Figure 2.1) and the Eiffel Tower by 29

Sam Davis, The Architecture of Affordable Housing (United States of America: University of California Press, 1995), 68. 30 Herbers, 14. 31 Ibid. 32 Ibid.

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Gustave Eiffel used prefabricated castiron structural elements, which were then assembled on-site. During the 19th century, the business of making building components that could be assembled on a remote site into a substantial industry became known as prefab.

The evolution of prefabrication as an architectural construction technique exploded in the 20th century with the development of the Model T vehicle, which was designed and produced by Henry Ford in 1908 (see Figure 2.2). After this revolutionary breakthrough in technology, it was not long before

Figure 3.1: Interior of the Crystal Palace by Sir Joseph Paxton

public agencies, private entrepreneurs

Source: The Crystal Palace <http://www.ric.edu/>

and architects started to explore the potential of prefabrication for the construction of affordable housing.

The existence of mass-produced materials as well as improved methods of transportation made it possible for thousands of middle-class Americans to become homeowners by ordering a house from a catalogue.33 Several companies offered inexpensive

Figure 3.2: Assembly Line of Model T Factory Source: Pierce Law Center <http://www.ipmall.fplc.edu/>

33

Ibid., 15.

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prefabricated homes through their catalogues, such as Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine, Montgomery Ward, the Hodgson Company, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. Between 1908 and 1940, Sears, Roebuck, and Co., the name most people associate with mail-order homes, sold more than 100,000 houses, barns, and multiple-family apartment buildings (see Figure 2.3).34 During this same period, it seemed that prefabricated housing offered a solution to the problem of affordable housing in major cities, like New York. Grosvener Atterbury, a New York City architect, developed a prefabricated unit constructed with hollow-cored precast concrete with story-height wall panels. He had constructed several hundred units in Forest Hills, New York, between 1910 and 1918.

Figure 3.3: Advertisements for Sear, Roebuck, and Co. Mail-Order Homes Source: Sears Archives <http://www.searsarchives.com/>

Additionally, Walter Gropius, a master of modernist architecture, began to explore and design the industrialization of housing in 1910. He wanted to investigate the repetitive production of individual parts, both structural and non-structural, which can be made by a machine to the same standard dimensions. In addition, he wanted to the produce these elements to the same standard dimensions with the provision for the interchangeability of these parts.

34

Ibid.

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Another contemporary of Gropius, Le Corbusier, explored the potential of prefabrication. In the year 1914, this French architect, in collaboration with the engineer, Max Dubois, designed a prefabricated housing prototype he called the Dom-ino House. The prototype investigated reinforced

Figure 3.4: Sketch of Le Corbusierâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dom-ino House

concrete with a standardized framework

Source: Kyoto Seika University <http://www.kyoto-seika.ac.jp/>

that required no load-bearing walls (see Figure 2.4).35 This new type of framework eliminated the need for load-bearing walls.

Another innovative example of a prefabricated home in the mid-20th century was the Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller in 1927 (see Figure 2.5).36 The round house was built using tension suspension from a central mast, which could easily be disassembled, transported, and reassembled. Also, he invented a prefabricated bathroom unit that can be stamped from sheet metal containing all fixtures and piping for plumbing in a unit that could be placed anywhere in a house. As the interest in

Figure 3.5: Dymaxion House by Buckminster Fuller

prefabrication continued to develop, the

Source: Cornell University Library <http://exhibits.mannlib.cornell.edu/>

sudden interest in prefabrication was due

35 36

Ibid., 16. Alfred Bruce and Harold Sandbank, A History of Prefabrication (New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1972), 19.

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to the Great Depression in 1929 and after the deflation a year earlier in traditional building. The collaboration between the steel industry and architects also helped produce a notable steel-framework, steel-decked prototype house that was shown at the Chicago Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fair of 1933-34 (see Figure 2.6).37 The Fair helped to further crystallize the attention for the subject rather than to the actual exploitation of the market. In 1939, the Pierce Foundation designed a community of 20 experimental homes, which provided a continuous study of the house and the needs of family life. Furthermore, the foundation continued to study the practical financial aspects of investment and maintenance.

Figure 3.6: Panoramic View of the Chicago Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fair of 1933-34 Source: Jazz Age Chicago <http://chicago.urban-history.org/>

World War II created such a dramatic housing shortage that the U.S. government was compelled to develop and support prefabricated housing to house troops during the war, and then to house returning GIs after the war. The design of the Quonset Hut by Peter DeJongh and Otto Brandberger was contracted by the Navy because of the

Figure 3.7: Construction of the Quonset Hut

logistical problem of moving and

Source: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers <http://www.hq.usace.army.mil/>

housing troops (see Figure 2.7). After the war, there was still the urgent need for housing, which kept the government in the business of prefabrication. The government offered public funds to finance the production of 200,000 units built by nearly 70 companies.38

37 38

Herbers, 19. Ibid., 23.

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During the same time, in 1947, developer William Levitt started building homes and communities for returning GIs. He had successfully transformed the building industry from a custom enterprise of housing into an assembly-line industry and tried to create a template for American life. In 1950, he developed his most famous development in Levittown, New York, where he built a community of Spartan; look-alike boxes on potato fields (see Figures 2.8 & 2.9).39

Figure 3.8: Advertisement of Levittown Homes

Figure 3.9: Aerial Photo of Levittown, New Jersey

Source: LevittownBeyond <http://levittownbeyond.com/>

Source: The College of New Jersey <http://teachpol.tcnj.edu/>

39

Ibid., 25.

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Between 1945 and 1962, the Case Study Houses program was launched by John Entenza, then editor of Arts and Architecture magazine, which further influenced modern home prefabrication. Many of the Case Study homes were designed by architects such as Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and Charles and Ray Eames (see Figure 2.10). Under the program, each house was intended to be a case study of the needs of a particular client, each representing a different type of homeowner.

Another trend that helped shape housing in the 1950s was mobile homes. This type of housing began in 1926, with

Figure 3.10: Case Study House No. 8 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Charles and Ray Eames House Studio

trailers pulled by cars, known as trailer

Source: Archipel <http://www.archipelvzw.be/>

coaches. Mobile homes continued to grow in every size. By the 1960s, homes on wheels would account for 15 percent of all the money spent on housing units in the United States (see Figure 2.11). By 1968, they would account for 25 percent of all singlefamily homes.40 In 1976, the U.S. Congress passed the National

Figure 3.11: Typical Mobile Home Source: Tech Zone <http://www.techzonemt.com/>

Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Act to ensure that homes were built according to approved standards. 40

Ibid., 30.

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Currently, architects interested in prefabricated homes are considering the use of shipping containers, often used for both temporary and permanent structures (see Figure 2.12). Since they are designed to withstand heavy loads, they are versatile, supporting a second floor, for instance, and can be assembled

Figure 3.12: MDU House by Lot-Ek Source: Flat Rock <http://www.flatrock.org.nz/>

in a variety of configurations.

The Lack of Prefabricated Housing in the Marketplace Even though historically there had been an interest in prefabrication methods by construction professionals, prefabricated homes have not become the industry norm for the development of housing units. The reason for this is a lack of availability of these homes due to economic factors, which professional groups cannot control. First, most building systems experience â&#x20AC;&#x153;economies of scaleâ&#x20AC;? when the scale of the project itself is large. It would appear that unless a project consists of four or more structures, conventional construction is likely to be no more expensive than systems construction.41 Any private developer or organization will be wary of investing in a factory that may stand idle and not produce profits. The mass production of housing can only be efficient if there is a large and continuous production. Cost-savings through industrialization can only be demonstrated when mass-produced standardized elements are repeated in hundreds of similar structures.42 The industry for automobiles and other mass produced objects would not be economically successful if these standards were not met. The primary objective of housing industrialization programs is to achieve and maintain

41

Ibid. Albert G. H. Dietz and Laurence S. Cutler, eds, Industrialized Building Systems For Housing, A Philosophy for Industrialization by David M. Pellish (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971), 139

42

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continuity of production â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not just production of the first units.43 Only then will the highrisk investments required of industry begin to pay off.44 In respect to Sacramento County, there is an ample opportunity to mass produce this type of home due to the local economic status of the jurisdiction and the availability of land and infill within the area.

Types of Prefabricated Housing As previously noted the concept of developing housing units rapidly and inexpensively has interested architects, planners, and developers throughout the 20th century. Prefabricated buildings have been an intriguing concept due to the rapid development and advancement of technology throughout the period. There are several types of industrial schemes for prefabricated housing. In many respects the technology to produce this type of construction is more advanced abroad than in the United States, especially in Europe and the Soviet States. Some of these schemes are based almost on traditional technologies adapted to shop fabrication and some employ moderately advanced ideas. They can be classified in various ways and one such classification is into modular systems and panel systems.

Modular Systems The first type of industrial scheme this paper will examine is the modular system. Modular systems, in the world of architecture and construction, are roomsized or larger enclosures that may constitute the entire building, as in trailers and mobile homes, or they may be assembled into larger buildings such as

43 44

Figure 3.13: LV House by Rocio Romero Source: Retro Thing <http://www.retrothing.com/>

Ibid. Ibid.

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apartments and hotels (see Figure 2.13).45

They may comprise only the structural shell -indeed, some walls may be fitted in only after the major portion of the building has been completed â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or they may be completely pre-furnished with all utilities, carpets on the floor, and pictures on the walls.46

Modular systems may be heavy or light, depending upon the material used to construct these units, i.e. some concrete boxes can weigh 80 to 100 tons.47 Mobile homes and other industrial units are extremely light and can be towed long distances. Wood-frame modular units can be transported over 600 miles to their final destination, where they are stacked by a light mobile crane to provide housing units.48 Other units can be unfolded from a compact arrangement into full-sized units to conform to highway restrictions upon transportation vehicles.

The greatest promise of most modular approaches to construction is that the more standardized the system can be, the easier it is to produce each unit in greater volume, and the more efficient and cost effective it becomes.49 These types of units are usually fabricated mostly for low-end, cost-driven, and short-term needs for housing, institutional, or commercial that is intended to be replaced as soon as permanent buildings can be constructed.

As previously discussed, architects have developed experimental modular systems for more than a century, but few have achieved design distinction or financial feasibility because of the great investment needed to be competitive in the marketplace. When these units are built in small quantities, they arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t able to achieve the efficiencies afforded by large-scale productions and fulfill all the challenges posed by transporting large, heavy 45

Albert G. H. Dietz and Laurence S. Cutler, eds, Industrialized Building Systems For Housing, Building Technology: Potentials and Problems by Albert G. H. Dietz (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971), 11. 46 Ibid. 47 Ibid. 48 Ibid. 49 Mark Anderson and Peter Anderson, Prefab Prototypes: Site-Specific Design For Offsite Construction (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), 183.

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Figure 3.14: Prefabricated Bathroom Unit

Figure 3.15: Construction of Prefabricated Bathroom Unit

Source: Department of Civil and Structural Engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic University <http://www.cse.polyu.edu.hk/>

Source: Department of Civil and Structural Engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic University <http://www.cse.polyu.edu.hk/>

pieces and then installing them in place. It is unfortunate that the terms “modular” and “prefabricated” have become interchangeable in many people’s vocabularies as it greatly confuses the viability and applicability of different available prefabrication systems.50 A far more useful definition – straight from the American Heritage Dictionary – describes a module as a standardized, often interchangeable component of a system or construction that is designed for easy assembly or flexible use.

Modular systems could be considered as small as a single brick to be used in quantity to form any number of flexible solutions; bathroom or kitchen units (see Figures 2.14 & 2.15) to be used to renovation solutions; or a single-wide mobile home a very large component. It is less common to consider pre-designed building block modules in creating single family houses or other structures that must adapt to more fine-grained programmatic or site-induced requirements, but it is not difficult to imagine a library of 50

Ibid.

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fully designed and engineered components at the scale of individual rooms that need only be assembled and minimally adapted in Computer Aided Design (CAD) files to create any number of unique solutions with great efficiency.

Panelized Systems Panelized systems are wall-sized slabs and large floor units that are assembled at the site into the finished configuration (see Figure 2.16).51 Panels may or may not be finished on both sides: it is common for both surfaces of concrete panels to be so finished, whereas woodbased or other framed panels may have only one finished side to allow for easy joining and the field incorporation of 52

utilities.

Figure 3.16: Construction of Panelized Wall System Source: Arnes <http://www2.arnes.si/>

Like modular systems, panel

systems may be heavy or light, which varies depending upon the construction materials and method of fabrication.

The apparent advantage of panels over modules is that modules can tend to be massive, while panels can be efficiently stacked for transportation. Primarily due to the traditional wood-framing techniques developed in American residential construction, panelized systems based on traditional techniques are not new or revolutionary. Because of low initial investment requirements, there are now a variety of shops throughout the world â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from flat tables in a shed to large factories with highly automated production lines â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that build prefabricated wood frame panels for 2x4 and 2x6 constructions.53

51

Dietz and Cutler, eds., 11. Ibid. 53 Anderson and Anderson, 23 52

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In considering this method of construction, one must weigh the benefits of assembling panels off site against the possible drawbacks of transportation. Since the panels must be moved larger distances than site-built framing, these units may require extra reinforcing to a transporting vehicle to allow for handling and shipping. These concerns can more than be offset, however, by the greater speed and consistency of the panel-making operation if done in the controlled environment of a factory, with the aid of layout tables, CAD (Computer Aided Design) / CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) control, gang nailing, and other factors.54 In addition to the construction of these units with the studs, headers, and sheathing of the wall panels themselves, the installation of doors, windows, siding, trim and other elements can create a more finished assembly. The addition of these other elements would create a heavier and perhaps more fragile panel, which further increases the cost and complexity of transport, but also significantly reduces the onsite labor and coordinating requirements.55

Panelized wall systems can present certain design limitations. This is especially true when designing systems beyond the standard dimensions anticipated by production facilities, such as walls that are taller than 9 or 10 feet. Trucking limitations usually become more expensive to work with panels that are over 8.5 feet due to U.S. federal regulations, which are essentially the same in many parts of the world where prefabricated building systems are already common. It is possible to transport panels on a truck in a vertical or diagonal position to allow for larger panels in some areas, but with much less load efficiency. The overall length of the panels is more flexible, typically curtailed only by transport limitations, which in most areas allow as much as 45 feet or longer, depending primarily on local road conditions near the job site.56

54

Ibid., 24 Ibid. 56 Ibid. 55

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Chapter 4 - Prefabricated Housing: Case Studies In the previous section, the different systems developed in the prefabrication industry, which can be beneficial to the development of affordable housing in the County, were discussed. These industrial systems are modular, which includes whole building sections and unit components, and panelized units. In this chapter, this paper will examine several models of prefabricated units that have been used in projects within the past two decades. Also, the chapter will explore the solution each case study can provide to the affordable housing problem in the County.

Dupont Modular Bathrooms DuPont was interested in expanding its market from single materials to packaged complete systems, so bathrooms became a reasonable choice. Unfortunately, through the traditional construction of bathrooms, every trade on the job is trying to squeeze into this one tiny room all at the same time: plumbers, electricians, drywallers, tillers, and carpenters all need access to the space many times at different stages of the job.57

Yale University needed eight different vanities in 53 bathrooms. The design process for the vanity prototype was different from the usual interaction between architect and contractor because there were no sketches, CDs (Construction Documents), or shop drawings of any kind.58

Yale came to see the modular bathroom and was convinced of its relevance to the renovation of their residential buildings. They were well pleased with the quality of the fabrication and the plumbing. Also, the university was pleased to learn that the prototype offered a savings of $100,000 over the field construction of the 53 bathrooms.59

57

Stephan Kieran and James Timberlake, Refabricating Architecture: How Manufacturing Methodologies are Poised to Transform Building Construction (United States of America: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2004), 144 58 Ibid., 145 59 Ibid., 146.

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In regard to the installation of the bathrooms in their respective buildings, a computer simulation proved to the university that the bathrooms could be carried up the interior stairs, if the design were modified to make the mirror and light unit demountable. Since work traditionally performed in the field was being replaced with a factory assembly, labor union concerns had been raised. To resolve the problem, the shop fabricator, which was not unionized, agreed to hire union laborers to assist in the construction of these units, so the construction manager was able to meet the terms of his labor agreement.

The DuPont modular bathroom is an excellent example of a smaller modular unit that can rehabilitate an existing structure in need of repair. The modular bathroom can be installed to rehabilitate the 6,857 units considered to be suitable for rehabilitation within the County. These dwelling units in need of repair include single family housing and multi-family housing units, especially in the cities of South Sacramento / Parkway and Rancho Cordova. The rehabilitated structures can be used as temporary and seasonal shelters for migrant farm workers and an increasing homeless population, which could relieve families experiencing overcrowding, overpayment, and substandard housing conditions. In addition, the modular units can be used to assist in rehabilitating and modifying homes owned by seniors, which need to be redesigned for elderly and handicap-accessible spaces. The most expensive areas in a home are usually the bathrooms and the kitchen.60 Besides the kitchen, the bathroom is the second most expensive room to rehabilitate.61 Bathrooms need attention due to a variety of reasons in an existing structure. Firstly, the reinstallation of new plumbing and seals to prevent no water leaks or corrosion can be very costly. Secondly, fixtures sometimes will need to be upgraded due to deterioration throughout the years. If the County wanted to rehabilitate most of the existing structures in need of repair at once with modular systems, it can provide great savings for the jurisdiction, as the DuPont modular system had done for Yale University. 60

About.com: Architecture, How Much Will it Cost to Build Your New Home?, <http://architecture.about.com/cs/buildyourhouse/a/costs.htm> [16 May 2007] 61 All Foreclosure Information, How To Rehab A Home, <http://architecture.about.com/cs/buildyourhouse/a/costs.htm> [16 May 2007]

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Sophia Three-Generation Modular Houses The Sophia Three-Generation Modular House is a series of panelized houses designed for a Tokyo developer of alternative elderly and handicap-accessible housing. The architectural firm responsible for designing the prototype was Anderson Anderson Architecture. The houses were designed by the architectural firm in expandable modules to accommodate changing life patterns of families with options for traditional threegeneration homes with separate family living quarters. The homes are designed for maximum accessibility and provide outdoor living areas with optimal sunlight, and ventilation. The design concept is based on the establishment of a catalog of predesigned modules that can be oriented for many different site and program configurations with great efficiency of design, planning, and construction management resources. All of the material lists and assembly instructions for each module are preconfigured, which make it simpler to put together a kit of parts in the design studio, the materials supplier and consolidating warehouse. This design process then leads to an efficient construction of the home at the jobsite when the components are unloaded from shipping containers.

The Sophia Three-Generation house is an example of a modular system used for the construction of a room-sized or larger enclosure that may constitute the entire building. Due to the flexible arrangement of the house within any site, the modular house can be developed to replace the 1,226 housing units considered to be in poor enough condition to warrant replacement. The new housing structures, which were designed to be alternative elderly and handicap-accessible units, could address the Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growing need for housing that meets the changing lifestyle, financial and physical need of the senior population. Due to an estimated 19% increase of the 65 years and older population, the County needs to accommodate additional housing with supportive services for seniors, affordable rental housing for low-income seniors, and market rate housing designed for accessibility.

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Tilt-Up Slab House The Tilt-Up Slab House (see Figure 3.1) was constructed on a small urban corner lot that is 30 feet wide and 80 feet long with a budget of $270,000. The Hesses, who live in Venice, California, had hired David Hertz to design their home that would fit these parameters for themselves, a grandparent and two teenage children. The program for their home required two separate studios in

Figure 4.1: Construction of the Tilt-Up Slab House

which to conduct their business, four

Source: ArcSpace.com <http://www.arcspace.com>

bedrooms, two studios, one family den, three and a half bathrooms, a living area, a kitchen and dining area, and a two-car garage. Hertz designed and developed the Tilt-Up Slab House, where the elongated interior space is enclosed with 14 six-inch-thick tilt-up white concrete panels lined up along the longitudinal edges of the site.

Using a prefabricated building technique for the project was an appropriate solution, especially in the use of Syndecrete which is a precast lightweight concrete surfacing material. The interior sides of the panels were left exposed, hand sanded, sealed, and waxed to preserve their natural beauty. Only a white cement plaster finish is applied to shower and tub surfaces with the floors finished with a reflective burnished concrete and the fixtures are minimal.

Most of the building components arrived in a truck and were assembled quickly. Eleven of the panels were poured offsite and then hauled in by a truck while three panels were poured onsite and placed in position by connecting them to the structural steel.62 Using

62

Herbers, 100.

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this construction method made it possible to have all the panels erected in just 10 hours â&#x20AC;&#x201C; less than a day from building site to building.63

The case study is an example of a prefabricated panelized system used for the development of a single family house on an infill site. Within Sacramento County, this type of development could fill the necessity to produce housing units within vacant infill sites. As previously noted about the Tilt-Up Slab House, the development of these individual infill projects can be constructed in just 10 hours for a budget of less than $500,000. The County needs to plan for and accommodate 19,465 new housing between 2000 and 2008, with more than half of these units designated as affordable housing. The case study provides a tangible example of a construction technique that can produce a single family housing unit rapidly and inexpensively. Unfortunately, housing prices for new and existing homes increased rapidly since 1996. The current median income for the year 2000 was $43,816, while the current median price for new homes was approximately $393,400. The advantage of developing this prefabricated panelized system on vacant infill sites in a cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s downtown could provide more opportunities for residents to live closer to home.

63

Ibid.

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Pierson Modular Building Located on a restricted site of the Yale University campus, this project was favorable for an off-site construction approach because the construction schedule was constrained by adjacent renovations and the university’s classes. Unfortunately, the site was the main staging area for basement demolition and roof-work on an adjacent existing building for a construction company. Furthermore, utilities needed to be installed in the courtyard before the addition was constructed. As a result, the entire structure had to be craned into place during the university’s spring break (see Figures 3.2 & 3.3).64 Figure 4.2: Modular Unit being set into place by a crane. In terms of the financial benefit of the

Source: Kullman Capabilities <www.kullman.com/images/images/capabilities.pdf>

prefabricated unit to the university, the savings worked out to about 17 percent less than traditional construction methods. Another issue was the construction manager’s contract. Traditionally, the construction manager is paid based on how much is constructed on site. Understandably, the client did not want to double-pay for Pierson and a different cost model was required. A compromise was reached easily due to the addition’s small size.

64

Ibid., 150.

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The structural frame of the module was designed to resist seismic loads, not for a natural disaster like an earthquake, but because these units have to sustain a 500-mile trip on the flatbed of a truck and the stress of being lifted 70 feet into the air by a crane. The units were inspected with a list of items that required immediate attention at the factory by an inspector, and then they were sealed for delivery to the site. The exterior brick detail between each unit was not designed for expansion purposes as each frame was bolted to each adjacent frame and they would act as a singular unit.65

Figure 4.3: Construction and completion of the dormitory at Yale University Source: Kullman Capabilities <www.kullman.com/images/images/capabilities.pdf>

The Pierson modular building is an example of a multi-family residence constructed as a modular system. As previously stated in the Tilt-Up Slab house case study, an estimated 19,465 new housing units need to be planned for and accomodated. The new housing units should not only be developed for market rate housing, but also as rental units. Rents within the County increased rapidly during the late 1990s through 2001. Longterm predictions are for continued rapid gains in rents over the next five years, unless there is an increase in the stock of rental housing. The Pierson dormitory was constructed on a constrained site, so the development of multi-family rental units with this type of construction method is possible for infill sites located in the center of any downtown.

65

Ibid.

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The Next Home In 1996, the Next Home was designed by Avi Friedman and constructed as a demonstration unit on the campus of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.66 This prefabricated modular home was conceived after a process of inquiry into societal changes, technological innovations, and environmental concerns. The fundamental conclusion of this thought process was that accelerated demographic and lifestyle changes required an open-ended approach to home design.67

Affordability of the housing unit was an important consideration in the design and process of the Next Home. The unit was designed to be sold and modified according to the space requirements and the financial budget of the potential buyers. Also, significant attention was placed on environmental considerations, so the selection of materials that reduce reliance on natural resources and increase the energy performance of the home was integral in the design.

The dimensions of the structure made a panelized system the most suitable and adaptable method of manufacturing for a prefabricator to translate into industrialized production. The enclosure and its structural component were built first, followed by internal fittings independent of the structure that would be selected by home buyers, which lets the builder introduce changes and accommodate variable market demand and client needs after construction begins.

The Next Home is another exceptional example of a housing unit built as a panelized system. The development of this type of prefabricated housing can address any site condition, which would make this unit appropriate for construction in an urban or suburban area. The adaptability of the single family housing unit can provide units for an aging population with disabilities and self-care limitations. In addition, the design of the Next Home was designed to be environmentally friendly with the selection of materials 66

Avi Friedman, The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change (United States of America: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2002), 188. 67 Ibid.

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and its energy efficiency. Like the example of the rehabilitation of existing housing units with modular bathrooms, this case study can provide more units in areas outside of a city’s downtown for migrant farm worker families and the homeless population.

Boeing – A Company On The Edge In 2005, Boeing had decentralized its aircraft assembly process globally, after closing its last two largest assembly plants near Seattle. The company realized that abandoning their factories meant leaving behind a loyal and committed workforce, especially in the northwest where it had been the largest employer for a century. The Renton plant was located near rail lines, an airfield, and a seaport, and the Everett plant was located near a rail-line and a 15,000-foot runway.68

Boeing knew how to assemble very large, complex, habitable structures – pressurized enclosures that were able to fly faster than 600 miles per hour, accommodate 550 people, and last for more than 30 years.69 Instead of assembling aircrafts, the company now uses the plants at Renton and Everett to build prefabricated buildings, which is shipped worldwide. Boeing Worldwide Constructs, a new global assembler of whole buildings, instantly began competing with Skanska, Takenaka, and Bovis Lend Lease.70

The various portions of buildings are assembled and then disassembled to prepare them for shipping worldwide. All the major subcomponent module suppliers are associated in each of the plants: Permasteelisa, Chandit, Assa Abloy, Praxtix, USGypsum, Trane, USMetals, Dow, DuPont, and Kalix.71 The environment in these plants creates a productive, comfortable and safe working condition with women being over half of the workers. These plants have met Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and had yet to experience an accident in its first two years of existence. As an ideal of prefabricated manufacturing, it affords year-round production without weather 68

Kieran and Timberlake, 159. Ibid. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid., 163. 69

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delays or environmental and occupational hazards. The assembly work is carried out 23 hours a day, 6 days a week in three shifts that compress the time required for assembly to delivery of the completed buildings.72 The process of one of their prefabricated homes from conception through design, completion, and delivery takes roughly half the time that the total on-site building process took only a decade ago.73

On the plant floor, the chassis of buildings are readied on low, electric, multi-tiered transport beds that are relocated precisely by robots from one section of the plant to another by a global positioning system.74 The chassis includes the main structure of the building and its mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and data rough-ins, and whole portions of the chassis come together preassembled by Praxis, Chandit, and Trane.75 Before assembly, the infrastructure is tested by building inspectors who work side by side with assembly workers to ensure high quality and full compliance with codes and standards.

Upon the installation of the prosthetics and the assembly of the major subcomponents, the exterior and interior finish systems are applied by the companies Permasteelisa, USMetals, and Kalix. The deliveries are packaged within air containers and everything is tracked and properly placed.

The Boeing Company is a magnificent example of a company that can provide affordable prefabricated housing rapidly and inexpensively to areas in need. Sacramento County is an area in need and could solicit the expertise of companies, like Boeing, to produce quality affordable housing under a constricted budget. The comparisons of prefabricated housing prices are contrasted to traditional housing construction, which establishes the prices of traditional housing units. It would be advantageous for the County to explore the services of these companies.

72

Ibid., 165. Ibid. 74 Ibid. 75 Ibid. 73

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Prefabrication as an Ideal Method for Affordable Housing These case studies are extraordinary examples of prefabricated modular and panelized systems that are being manufactured currently. The previous argument against the success and benefits of these products to potential buyers and companies cannot be taken as a fact in light of these remarkable advancements in prefabrication. If Sacramento County used these prefabricated systems to build new structures or rehabilitate existing ones, the jurisdiction would be able to provide the necessary affordable housing units for its residents in very short period of time. Even though many of these architects, companies, and clients have made a strong argument for these types of products, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed.

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Chapter 5 - Prefabricated Housing in Sacramento County: Challenge and Recommedations Even though there are many excellent examples of successful prefabricated projects in the past two decades, there is not an abundant amount of prefabricated housing available in the marketplace. In order to successfully implement this type of industrial model, Sacramento County needs to review the challenges that hinder the development of these type of housing units. This chapter examines the challenges ahead for the County and recommends necessary steps to make prefabricated housing a reality.

The Challenges of Prefabricated Housing in Sacramento County In the last several decades, many planners, architects, developers, and government officials in the United States have taken an interest in the potential of prefabricated housing as a solution to housing problems all across the country, especially after World War II. Published literature on this subject has concentrated on some of the challenges towards an interest in prefabrication. Such challenges include negative public perception; the lack of assistance by federal and local governments in the development of prefabricated housing and the resistance of labor unions.

Negative Public Perception Unfortunately, the acceptance of prefabrication as an affordable housing solution is not only affected by the economies of producing these units, but is also a psychological one. A prefabricated unit such as the General Panel house, which was better known as the Lustron home, might have been of higher structural and performance quality than conventional construction, but it was publicly perceived as inferior, because of the prefab tag by home buyers.76 In the 1970s, an intensive study by the late In-Cities Program of 76

Gilbert Herbert, The Dream of the Factory Made House (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1984), 311.

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the Department of Housing and Urban Development had published their finding of public attitudes toward prefabrication. Typical reactions were “OK, so long as it’s brick,” “No Bucky Fuller,” “No more concrete prisons,” “We don’t want skyscrapers,” “No crackerboxes,” “No ticky-tacky.”77 These public attitudes clearly reflected disbelief and reluctance to accept unfamiliar technologies, as well as distinct disappointment with unsuccessful technologies of the past.

The Lack of Assistance By The Federal And Local Governments In The Development Of Prefabricated Housing Besides the economic factors creating uncontrollable conditions for prefabricated housing and public perception, there are political factors that have hindered the mass production of these residences. Yet, unlike uncontrollable economic conditions, the political factors could have been controlled, but became another obstacle for the development of prefabrication. The lack of specific government commitment meant that the use of prefabricated methods did not become widespread. In both the USSR and the UK, the initiation of policies stemmed from activity by technical advisers, but the widespread adoption required committed long-term activity on the part of influential groups within government (and the private sector, in the case of the UK).78 The federal and local governments need to provide financial incentives for private developers to mass produce housing because most developers cannot afford to construct these homes on their own. Improvements in the housing process depend on the ability of the government to provide sufficient incentives along with the required resources to encourage the people who comprise the political and social institutions, whose behavior constrains efficient housing, to change their actions to those which will enhance efficient housing development.79 It is also said that costs of building, especially housing for low- to moderate-income families, are too high but that technology cannot substantially reduce them, and that they must be

77

Dietz and Cutler, eds., 24. Robert T McCutcheon, “Science, Technology and the State in the Provision of Low-Income Accommodation: The Case of Industrialized House-Building, 1955-77,” Social Studies of Science, Vol. 22, No. 2 (May 1992): 361. 79 Dietz and Cutler, eds., 33. 78

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brought down in other ways, mainly by financial means such as interest subsidy, preferential tax treatments, and so on.80 Without federal assistance, most potential homeowners lack the means to purchase a home.

In spite of the needed financial assistance from the federal and local governments, these agencies needed to amend their land use regulations. These agencies severely limited the supply of properties to develop necessary affordable housing. The issue of a subsequent parcel or parcels of available land is needed because no developer can construct a building without a property. The federal or state governments will have to play a role, for only they can offer a sufficient commitment to a prospective housing-factory builder that a given number of sites will be available over a given time period.81 In the United States, there are only a few cities that have available appropriately zoned sites for a production schedule sufficient to permit a developer to make a profit for their investment. As a result, when a building system is considered for a particular project, frequently the entire fixed cost is allocated to the single project with the obvious consequence that the building system appears to be more expensive than conventional construction.82 Albert G. H. Dietz had stated that fundamental changes must be undertaken to remove the abuses of constitutional authority that permit middle-class families to obtain new homes but prohibit housing for lower-income families in the same communities.83

The Resistance of Labor Unions The lack of assistance by federal and local governments is just another one of the challenges in producing prefabricated housing for low-income families. Another challenge the industry of prefabrication needs to overcome is the resistance of labor unions to this type of construction. The inability of the housing industry, as presently organized, to develop, modify, and accept technological innovation is limited by the scarcity of trained construction managers who choose the construction of housing as a 80

Ibid., 10. Ibid., 39. 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid., 141. 81

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career. The labor movement is concerned with the application of the concept of industrialized building, i.e., that point in time when on-site work starts or when off-site work, preparatory to on-site work, commences.84

Unfortunately, labor skilled in field construction is becoming an increasingly rare throughout the developed world. In addition, the problems of the resistance of labor unions to accept the industry of prefabrication are inherent in the organizational structure of these unions. Firstly, the leadership of international unions and local unions are apprehensive of this type of construction technique. In general, these organizations are, in general, still led by men with a depression-based outlook, who recall, all too vividly, the scarcity of jobs, the terrific cyclical and seasonal employment, and other conditions which have resulted in construction workers suffering at times throughout history double the national unemployment rate.85

Secondly, beyond the problems involved with the leadership at all levels of the tradeunion, there might be a problem directly involved with the membership. Union members are concerned about the total number of jobs available. Their concern is over the understanding and application of a new method of construction. Fewer young people are choosing to enter into training programs for the trade. The reasons are varied and include problems related to working conditions, safety, and the severity of outdoor conditions. Labor unions have trained young people with techniques that have been proven through construction history. The resistance to a new technique in construction would surely be met because the prefabrication industry is not a proven traditional technique. There is no inherent threat to unions in shifting the location of much of the labor that goes into making a building from outside to inside. The importance of labor unions to improve working conditions can be realized most fully when the building is constructed under controlled interior conditions.

84

Albert G. H. Dietz and Laurence S. Cutler, eds, Industrialized Building Systems For Housing, The Labor Movement and Industrialized Building by Reese Hammond (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971), 243. 85 Ibid., 248.

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While cars have always been built inside buildings, much of their fabrication into large assemblages has shifted from the point of final assembly to adjacent and remote off-site assembly plants.86 Initially feared by labor unions, this new paradigm was negotiated by unions and manufacturers during the 1990s. The labor strife that characterized earlier decades is being alleviated through a new model for labor relations that focus on improved working conditions, job security, and the participation of unions and workers in the organization and responsibility for work.87

Recommendations To Successfully Implement Prefabricated Housing Prefabricated housing would be ideal and probably easier to develop in large-scale planned communities because the production costs would be cheaper. However, focusing also upon infill sites along with large-scale planned communities for the development of prefabricated housing would benefit Sacramento County. Prefabricated housing can provide people with exclusive homeownership and the opportunity to live the American dream of owning a home. While this building type is not for everyone, it does provide opportunity for low-income families who would appreciate this type of development. Unlike previous prefabricated housing development standards, the current exploration and development of this type of construction method is more aesthetically pleasing and more flexible to the conditions provided by the site and individual human needs. Such uses for the development of prefabricated housing could include single family homes, multi-family buildings, as well as large-scale planned communities. Particularly in Sacramento County where in the past decade housing prices for new and existing homes increased rapidly and the Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population continues to increase with an increasing homeless population. Prefabricated housing provides the needed economic, social and housing opportunities for low-income families who would otherwise have to leave the County to seek housing elsewhere or would become or remain homeless.

86 87

Kieran and Timberlake, 125 Ibid.

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Since the conditions in the Sacramento County housing market indicates the need for prefabricated affordable housing, there are several important strategies that local government officials should employ in developing and implementing this type of housing. There are a wide variety of stakeholders that are affected by the re-introduction of prefabricated housing, and appropriately, each group with an interest in this type of construction should be allowed to provide input, if this is considered by local government. These stakeholders include architects, engineers, unions, general contractors, for-profit and non-profit housing developers, as well as residents of the County, especially the ones that most need the affordable housing being created by prefabrication methods.

The education of local decision makers and elected officials by their support staff is important. Those with political authority over the adoption of prefabricated housing should be familiar with the challenges and potential results for the County with the implementation of prefabricated housing. County decision makers must be willing to dedicate staffing resources to ensure the long-term enforcement and maintenance of prefabricated housing, weighing the economic, environmental, and social benefits over necessary administrative costs. The timing by which prefabricated housing is enacted in the County can weigh heavily on its long-term effectiveness to balance the supply of housing for all income levels with a minimal initial impact on the profit margins of market-rate developers.

Despite the differing public views of prefabricated housing among for-profit developers, affordable housing advocates, unions, and local residents, County staff involved in the development of affordable housing must initiate a deliberate effort to solicit the input of all stakeholder groups. Success in gathering support from local stakeholders is best accomplished by an effective framing of the issues, especially residents in Sacramento County who stand to benefit from the increase in affordable housing supply by prefabrication. As previously presented in Chapter Two of this paper, data is already available from the County to substantiate the need for prefabricated housing.

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Elected officials in Sacramento County who understand the positive implications of prefabricated housing will likely be supporters of this type of construction within the County. Direct education and advocacy can enlighten decision makers to the benefits the County will experience from an increase of the affordable housing supply. The sustainability of prefabricated housing is dependent upon the political willingness of the elected officials in the County to continuously support the idea of prefabricated housing as a vital source of affordable housing. Prefabricated housing will fall short of producing affordable housing and to maintain affordable housing resources if the necessary County administration is inadequate.

In Sacramento County, housing prices have risen to the unaffordable levels present in some counties within the state of California. While some counties are neither relatively isolated from the pressure of residential development nor located in regions of substantial growth, unfortunately the housing prices in Sacramento County will continue to escalate given the seemingly endless County affordable housing shortage. It is important for Sacramento County that is currently experiencing rapid rates of growth to consider the adoption of prefabricated housing before housing prices become too unaffordable for its residents.

The introduction of prefabricated housing will ensure that a permanent resource of affordable housing will be created in Sacramento County. The cost of market-rate homes in the County have become more unaffordable to low and moderate-income homebuyers, especially since 2000. It is this reality that justifies the urgent need for prefabricated housing in Sacramento County.

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Chapter 6 - Conclusion Even though the implementation of prefabrication for the development of low- to moderate-income families has been a solution since the 1950s, attempts to initiate programs to fully develop this technology have not succeeded due to poor planning. Since the United States did not foster this type of development, there are many unsolved problems of the technology and its constraints, which will require more research. Unfortunately, the modular system of prefabrication housing units did not have the same success as the industrialized mobile home. Research is extensive in materials and equipment but spotty or nonexistent in areas that have to do with total building, its functional and physical behavior, design as a total system, and other aspects not directly related to component manufacture.88 Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in prefabrication as a construction technique around the world. Many young and inspiring architects are focused upon designing this type of housing to provide an option for affordable housing; not just as an unattractive disaster relief unit.

As stated throughout this paper, these units can be built faster and cheaper than conventional construction. Therefore, existing and future residents of the County would find more affordable housing due to more homes constructed. The construction of prefabricated housing can be built at about half the cost per square foot as compared to conventional construction,89 which would make more units available to own or rent for those wanting to find homes. Also, the improvement of existing dilapidated structures with prefabricated units would provide more affordable housing without unconsciously eliminating valuable open space due to the building of new structures. Prefabricated housing units would improve the existing problem by providing more housing for those residents who are waiting on the affordable housing application list in Sacramento County.

88

Dietz and Cutler, eds., 31. Gary D. Branson, The Complete Guide To Manufactured Housing: The Affordable Alternative to StickBuilt Construction (Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 1992), 10.

89

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Prefabricated housing will not and cannot be expected to fully resolve the Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s critical affordable housing problems, but it would lend needed relief in addressing the crisis on low-income families and individuals. There exists a need to research prefabrication as a solution to improve the housing problem the United States still experiences, especially in Sacramento County. The research on the subject has provided a general understanding to comprehend the past and current interest in prefabrication as a construction technique. In addition, current advancements in prefabrication has provided the concepts behind the reality related with the needed advocacy and use of prefabrication within various groups, such as academic, professional and governmental institutions. Prefabrication as a construction technique for affordable housing will continue to advance as a legitimate, beneficial, and essential strategy for contributing to Sacramento Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ongoing housing crisis.

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Bibliography About.com: Architecture. How Much Will it Cost to Build Your New Home? <http://architecture.about.com/cs/buildyourhouse/a/costs.htm> Accessed 16 May 2007 All Foreclosure Information. How To Rehab A Home. <http://architecture.about.com/cs/buildyourhouse/a/costs.htm> Accessed 16 May 2007 Anderson, Mark and Peter Anderson. Prefab Prototypes: Site-Specific Design For Offsite Construction. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007. Bruce, Alfred and Harold Sandbank. A History of Prefabrication. New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1972. Davis, Sam. The Architecture of Affordable Housing. United States of America: University of California Press, 1995. Dean, Edward. “The New Foreign Import: Manufactured Housing Systems.” The Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 37, No. 3/4 (Spring-Summer 1984): 12-19 Dietz, Albert G. H. and Laurence S. Cutler, eds. Industrialized Building Systems For Housing. Building Technology: Potentials and Problems by Albert G. H. Dietz. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971 Dietz, Albert G. H. and Laurence S. Cutler, eds. Industrialized Building Systems For Housing. Constraints by John F. Collins. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971 Dietz, Albert G. H. and Laurence S. Cutler, eds. Industrialized Building Systems For Housing. A Philosophy for Industrialization by David M. Pellish. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971 Dietz, Albert G. H. and Laurence S. Cutler, eds. Industrialized Building Systems For Housing. The Labor Movement and Industrialized Building by Reese Hammond. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1971 Friedman, Avi. “The Evolution of Design Characteristics during the Post-Second World War Housing Boom: The US Experience.” Journal of Design History, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1995): 131-146 Friedman, Avi. The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change. United States of America: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2002.

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Herbers, Jill. Prefab Modern. New York: HarperCollins International, 2004. Herbert, Gilbert. The Dream of the Factory Made House. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1984. Kieran, Stephan and James Timberlake. Refabricating Architecture: How Manufacturing Methodologies are Poised to Transform Building Construction. United States of America: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2004. McCutcheon, Robert T. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Science, Technology and the State in the Provision of LowIncome Accommodation: The Case of Industrialized House-Building, 1955-77.â&#x20AC;? Social Studies of Science, Vol. 22, No. 2 (May 1992): 353-371 Policy Development and Research Information Service of HUD User. <http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/SacramentoCAComp.pdf> Accessed 1 October 2005. Sacramento County Planning and Community Development Department. Sacramento County Housing Element Update. <http://www.saccounty.net/planning/housingelement/docs/draft-housing-element-final.pdf> Accessed 1 October 2005. Sacramento Housing & Redevelopment Agency. Affordable Housing List. <http://www.shra.org/WebReports/AffHousing/htmProjectListing.php> Accessed 14 November 2005. Sacramento Housing Alliance. Who Needs Affordable Housing? <http://www.sachousingalliance.org> Accessed 10 December 2005. US Census Bureau American FactFinder. Household Population and Household Type by Tenure: 2000. <http://factfinder.census.gov> Accessed 6 May 2007.

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Masters Thesis  

A thesis which analyzes prefabricated housing as a solution to the affordable housing crisis in Sacramento County.