Summary List Placement
What do Apple, Tesla, and prefab homes have in common? Apparently, a lot if you’re prefab home maker Connect Homes.
California-based Connect Homes specializes in prefabricated houses. While this isn’t a new concept, prefabrication is increasingly being considered a potential solution to our housing crisis.
Currently, prefabs can be seen across the spectrum, from homes that can accommodate families to shelters for unhoused people. And recently, several prefab makers — including Plant Prefab, Pallet, Dvele — have seen a boost in public interest and sales.
But unlike other prefab modular home makers, Connect Homes builds its units the same way Apple creates its phones and Tesla manufactures its vehicles: by “understanding every stakeholder and every piece along the journey,” Greg Leung, Connect Homes’ CEO, told Insider.
Leung, who has been Connect Homes’ CEO for about half a year, previously spent 12 years at Apple overseeing its global supply chain planning and management. Despite the obvious differences between Apple and Connect Homes, Leung says his experience at the tech giant — and a previous smart home tech startup — has lent itself to turning Connect Homes and the prefab home industry into one that can more frequently produce higher quality houses while using less time and money.
“Imagine you were to approach building a house the way Apple would approach building a product … from an end-to-end standpoint,” Leung explained. “By thinking about it from that standpoint, you’re able to optimize and make decisions that allow the entire thing to work seamlessly for the end consumer, and for [the process] to actually run efficiently and effectively.”
For prefab homes makers, this execution could be the difference between being a niche home builder or a “game-changer” that could replace “traditional construction in many use cases,” Leung said.
And for Connect Homes, the goal is to become a key national home builder.
“Prefab has been around for decades, and it has overpromised and under-delivered because prefab in and of itself is not the answer, it’s a technique that’s used to address the problem [of our housing crisis],” Leung said.
Creating a Connect Home
Connect’s rising popularity is undeniable. The company saw the most bookings in its history during the second quarter of 2020. Now, it’s looking like this year’s first quarter will beat last year’s fourth-quarter numbers, and the upcoming second quarter is already on track to surpass this quarter.
Among this influx of orders, there’s been a strong mix of requests for homes in urban, suburban, and countryside locations. No matter the destination, Connect’s modular units can be delivered across the US using semi-trailer trucks, rail cars, or cargo ships.
All of these homes are built in Connect’s California factory using an “assembly-line construction” method. As a result, Connect is able to build a home every six days, while an entire home can be produced in 24 days, according to Leung. When the units are finished, Connect will deliver its homes 90% complete and will install them for its customers using a crane
Compared to traditional houses, Connect’s homes are more efficient — in terms of time, money, waste, and carbon — to build “by orders of magnitude,” Leung said. This eco-friendly angle can also be seen throughout its homes: Connect’s units come with insulation, systems focused on power efficiency, a roof with high solar reflectance, and LED fixtures.
A look inside Connect’s most popular home
Not all of Connect’s customers are first-time homebuyers. In some cases, Connect’s clients are city dwellers looking to physically replace an existing home with a new house. Other times, it’s homebuyers seeking the “city to countryside” exodus that we’ve seen throughout COVID-19.
The company has also received inquiries from colder travel hotspots like ski resorts, which benefit from Connect’s strong insulation, year-round construction capabilities, and shipment of nearly complete homes.
While Connect doesn’t build purely custom homes, the existing models are semi-customizable via different finishes and appliances. There are also different packages — including one for cold weather and another for smart home tech — to further personalize the space.
Connect’s units — which sit on steel frames — don’t look any different than a typical modern house. The company offers 14 models, ranging from the $202,700 460-square foot Connect 1, to the $997,000 3,200 square-foot Connect 10. It’s important to note that these prices include the estimated costs of both the home and “site work.”
Connect’s most popular model, the Connect 8, falls closer to the larger model at 2,560 square-feet. The two-story Connect 8 is a “quintessential family home” with its high-ceiling living room and entertainment spaces. The kitchen also flows into the back deck, creating an indoor-outdoor feel.
In total, the almost $814,000 home has three bedrooms and bathrooms. The second floor holds all three sleeping spaces, including the primary bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet. The top floor also has a second bathroom and a laundry room.
Heading downstairs, the lower floor holds the living and dining room, a pantry, and a bathroom.
All of this is lined with floor-to-ceiling glass windows to bring in as much natural light as possible.
According to Leung, the home’s success comes from its “versatile footprint” and its ability to fit in thin but long urban plots of land.
“It’s not your sprawling larger ranch home, which doesn’t always fit in urban settings, but it’s also equally good in the country,” Leung said. “We sell them everywhere.”