Introducing: Predicting Our Future
Predicting Our Future is a new podcast that envisions the future through a serial entrepreneur’s eyes. Andrew Weinreich, inventor of the first social network and founder of 7 startups, interviews leading entrepreneurs to predict massive opportunities for the next generation of startup founders to change the world.
The Rise of Factory-built Homes
In an age where virtually every product is built in a factory, why are new homes in America still built by local contractors? Will all homes eventually be built inside of factories at a fraction of the current cost? Can we construct beautiful homes in factories that are more energy-efficient than ever before?
In six episodes, Andrew explores how people can save dramatically on the cost of building a new home, how factory-built construction can address explosive global population growth, lessons that homebuilders can learn from automotive companies, and the journey from designing to financing a modern homebuilding factory.
Episode 1: Home-in-a-box
Between 1908 and 1942, Sears sold 100,000 homes that were delivered in kits consisting of 12,000 pieces. While Sears is no longer in the business of making prefabricated homes, a new class of technology-driven startups has picked up the mantle and is now delivering kits, which once they’re put together, make modern homes.
Episode 2: Half-priced Hamptons
Modern homebuilders have taken the art of prefabrication to new heights where they can construct entire rooms complete with insulation, plumbing, and electric wiring all within a factory. These rooms, called “modules,” are then transported from the factory to the building site and stacked to form a home in mere days. In the Hamptons, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a number of other major cities, it’s now possible to build a beautiful modern home modularly for dramatically less than the cost of building with local contractors.
Episode 3: Google, China, & Overnight Cities
If a trillion dollar market opportunity exists, you can bet the people at Google are thinking about it. Within X, Google’s most secretive lab, they’ve been working on solving the problem of how to make building construction more efficient in order to deal with the world’s severe and worsening urban housing shortage. By the year 2050, the global population is expected to grow by 2.2 billion people, and 90% of that growth is expected to take place in cities that are in dire need of new housing. In China, one company has figured out how to deal with this challenge by prefabricating components for skyscrapers inside of a factory.
Episode 4: NYC Goes Modular
In the summer of 2016, the world’s tallest modular building at 32 stories high was completed at 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn, NY. Once the building’s apartment modules were completed at a factory located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, they were transported to the development site and essentially stacked one on top of another into a high-rise building. To the dismay of its original backers, the building was delivered years late, riddled with construction problems, and the subject of a costly litigation. Still, excitement about modular construction in New York abounds with new projects under development.
Episode 5: Cars, Mars, & 3D Printing
In 2012, six single-family homes were made by a 3D printer in China. The inventor of that technology is now working on a 3D printer designed to construct buildings on Mars. Does this technology have a future on Earth? Or does the future of homebuilding involve modern factories that leverage robots to build wood or steel framing similar to the types of machines you might find in modern automotive plants?
Episode 6: The Tesla of Homebuilding
Have we hit a tipping point for residential construction where the cost and quality of a factory-built home always compares favorably to the cost and quality of a conventionally-built home? Are Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists beginning to train their sights on this mammoth industry? In the sixth and final episode of a series on the future of homebuilding, Andrew discusses how entrepreneurs eager to disrupt this space might conceive of building and financing a modern homebuilding factory.