Monday, September 26, 2011

Ain't No Double Wide!

Courtesy of Connor Homes / Jim Westphalen Photography
"MANUFACTURED HOUSING!" Conjures up the worst of images in your mind doesn't it? Two halves of a mobile home driving down the highway, backing up traffic. Cheap, vinyl paneling lining all of the walls. Tornado magnets. Hound dogs sleeping under the porch. But the home above 'ain't no double wide' and it is by definition...manufactured housing!

Seeing is believing so last week my business partner and I went to Middlebury, Vermont to kick the tires at Connor Homes. This was not completely unprompted - our new clients, Cozy and Mark Palmer have dreamed of a New England clapboard home for years. We are thrilled that they not only selected us to help fulfill that dream, but also wanted to help us understand the Connor Homes building process by taking us to the factory. It was a truly spectacular and amazing tutorial!

You really can't believe what we saw!  Imagine 110,000 feet of warehouse, roughly three football fields, where entire homes - and I mean big homes, were being assembled. The efficiency was staggering! How about only 1.6% waste from all of their manufacturing processes! Heck, we will haul off fifteen or twenty 40' dumpsters full of waste from any one of our jobsites! Connor is "green" REALLY GREEN! What they don't cut up for blocking goes into bins for the local compost company to turn into chips for the compost pile.

Maybe the best adjective to hang around Connor's Homes neck would be "semi-automated." We watched in amazement as a 10' tall by 14' long, 2 x 6 wall section was completed in about five minutes! But then when you have automated tables that pre-determine where the studs go; when those same tables roll the nailed wall section on to the next station where the wall is squared up and plywood sheathing is tacked on; where doors and windows are cut out of the wall section sheathing with two man routers; and finally where that sheathing is face nailed with a power nailer that has twenty nail guns firing simultaneously, you can produce wall sections that fast.

Connor's manufacturing software is so good that each wall section is numbered, and stacked according to when in sequence we will need that part to assemble on-site. The Palmer's 3,800 square foot house frame will be completely produced in about seven to ten days!  Could this be the changing face of the home building business?

We will supply the foundation, roofing material (metal standing seam), systems (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), as well as necessary labor. But even all of the interior cabinets and trim will be supplied by Connor - by flatbed, later in the building process. In a world where really fine homes are usually built in 18 - 24 months, is it possible that the Palmer's will be living in their home five months after Connor Homes shows up on our jobsite? Those timelines used to be reserved for small tract houses, and - you guessed it - DOUBLE WIDES!

1 comment:

  1. As a contractor, how did you become familiar with the assembly process? What would you recommend as the initial steps in finding the right contractor to handle the foundation, electrical, plumbing, and erection of the Connor interior/exterior?