The modular home sector has boomed in recent years, thanks largely to a bevy of companies marketing prefab homes as more affordable and sustainable than their conventional counterparts, due to shorter construction times and less waste. Recently, a new player arrived on the market. With a focus on affordability and sustainability, HiFAB has ambitious plans to become a leader in modular homes in Texas—and they have placed their bets on a collaboration with San Antonio-based architecture studio Lake|Flato.
The first two models, known as "Haciendas," might look like regular homes—allowing them to integrate into existing neighborhoods—but can be constructed on site in seven days or less.
The two models are available to order now and will be shipped in early 2023. The Studio is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home that starts at $249,000, and The Standard is a larger three-bedroom, two-bathroom home that starts at $375,000. Both feature the same simple, clean design language with a vaulted ceiling in the main living and dining area that aims to make the relatively small footprint—The Studio is approximately 1250 square feet, and The Standard is approximately 1875 square feet—feel spacious. The modular components can be arranged to create three different layouts, and clients also have the opportunity to choose tiles, paint, and other finishes.
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"These houses are a way to design a new type of adaptable urban infill that can appeal to a range of clients," says Grace Boudewyns, Project Architect at Lake|Flato. "They were designed to encourage outdoor living, with the design centered around the courtyard as an extension of the home."
"Simple design is hard to pull off but it allows us to focus on the details for a cleaner, more efficient way of living," said Brent Jackson, founder of HiFAB and Oaxaca Interests, in a recent press release. "Uncluttered living seems so much more enjoyable," he explained further in an interview.
Alongside this visual and functional simplicity, the Haciendas are designed with sustainability in mind—think ultraviolet-light air purifying and fresh air exchange systems, zero-VOC paints, and tile setting materials that are Greenguard Gold Certified. But, like any prefab home, the main sustainability benefits come from a shorter construction process that results in significantly less waste in an industry that is notoriously full of it.
While the first Hacienda models were built on-site in Dallas to prove the concept, the market-ready models will be produced at a dedicated new manufacturing plant located in Grand Prairie, Texas, before being delivered to site—and in a bid to get consumers more involved in the manufacturing process, HiFAB has made it possible to watch the construction of a customized home from start to finish online.
HiFAB has lofty ambitions for their new Haciendas, touting them as a potential solution to the housing crisis. "I love that these homes represent a critical step towards solving the essential workers' housing solution," says Jackson, throwing out one example of who he hopes the homes will be bought by. "These folks are the backbone of our nation and we will absolutely continue on that mission."
According to Jackson, however, initial interest has unsurprisingly come from arguably the other end of the market—DIY developers who own five to 10 urban lots ready for a new home, Airbnb investors, and the hospitality sector. This is reflected in the HiFAB website, which features a number of case studies demonstrating potential return on investment for each of these models. One case study, for example, claims that a "DIY Developer" could make an unlevered yield of 20 percent by spending $499,000 on land, utilities, landscaping and the Hacienda and selling to a home buyer for $599,000.
"The market, however, will grow as we scale in order to meet our mission of pushing down costs to pass on to consumers," says Jackson in response to this. "Our mission is to provide ‘high-design yet attainable’ homes focused on both health and sustainability—efficiency and doing the right thing for our planet just makes me smile."