“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
There is a growing consensus among real estate developers and policymakers that modular construction could transform the housing industry by offering a faster, more cost-effective, and sustainable alternative to traditional construction methods. At MUSSON Factory, we work with government entities to identify the most effective strategies and policies to promote modular construction within their communities.
Our team of experts has extensive experience working with government agencies, housing advocates, and private developers to identify opportunities for modular construction and implement strategies that support its growth. We are all active practitioners in our respective fields, with direct experience navigating obstructive public policies. Together, we represent the front line of industry experts who can help you identify and remove obstacles to the rapid development of affordable housing built offsite in a factory.
We are committed to advancing the use of modular construction to create affordable housing that meets the needs of individuals and families across the country. Thank you for considering MUSSON Factory for your modular construction consulting needs. We look forward to partnering with you to make affordable housing a reality for more Americans.
At MUSSON Factory, our mission is to help government agencies and public servants adopt policies that promote modular construction for affordable housing. We leverage our industry expertise to identify opportunities and strategies that support the growth of modular construction, with the goal of creating sustainable, cost-effective, and accessible housing for individuals and families across the country. We are committed to working with our clients to remove obstacles to the rapid development of affordable housing and advancing the use of modular construction as a transformative solution to the housing crisis.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2021 Out of Reach report indicates that 7.2 million rental homes that are both affordable and available to extremely low-income renters are currently lacking, forcing millions of families to allocate more than half of their earnings towards housing costs.
Moreover, the dream of homeownership remains out of reach for many Americans, with soaring home prices and stagnant wages making it increasingly difficult to attain. According to the Urban Institute’s 2021 report, millennials’ homeownership rate was 7 percentage points lower than that of their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts at the same age.
These statistics underscore the urgent need for innovative solutions to the housing crisis. Modular construction techniques offer a promising solution to produce affordable and ecologically sustainable housing. At MUSSON Factory, we are committed to partnering with government entities to formulate policies and strategies that promote the growth of modular construction and increase access to affordable housing.
The top 30 metropolitan districts, ranked by cost burden, post at least 50% housing cost burden. The top 100 cities range from roughly 40-60% cost-burdened.
(“Millions of Americans Burdened by Housing Costs in 2015,” 2015)
From building code interpretation to zoning to inspection protocols to financing law, the system assumes on-site construction. Modular/offsite builders struggle to work around a rigid system, to fit their square peg in a round hole.
Policies that make it faster, easier, and more profitable to build modular affordable housing will result in the most cutting-edge, energy-efficient, good-looking, new projects landing within your borders.
Together, we are a dream team consulting group that will help you to lubricate affordable housing development using modern methods of construction: volumetric modular, panelization, additive technology (3D printing), and more. We know the technologies; we know what developers need, how and what they measure; and we know how to make your jurisdiction attractive to private capital to build modern affordable housing!
County and municipal policymakers have many tools at their disposal; some include zoning, parking requirements, fees, communications, and other less conventional strategies. State legislatures and regulators manage broader statewide policies with legislation and agency rules. Governors further direct agency actions with executive orders. Adoption, elaboration, and enforcement of the International Building Code (IBC) varies state-to-state.
We suss out gaps in your existing policy matrix that make developing affordable housing, especially using offsite/modular construction, and help you to fill those gaps with policies that encourage more affordable housing. These are the broad areas where affordable housing developers need policy support to encourage development in your jurisdiction:
Affordable housing developers reject 19 out of 20 projects they evaluate. The primary evaluation tool is a specialized financial model commonly called a “proforma.” The proforma calculates the present value of inbound and outbound cashflows as they are discounted over time. The same amount of cash has less value in the future than it does in the present, the timing of cashflows matters; so, the heart and soul of the proforma is the discounted cashflow (DCF) analysis.
Short lead times are crucial to the success of offsite construction viability, but the approvals process for offsite is longer than for onsite, stick-built, projects.
Housing can’t be built without funding: equity and debt. The equity is raised from investors, based on the projected return on investment (ROI); debt is borrowed from lenders based on meeting a minimum ROI with a maximum of tolerable risk. The risk profile for offsite projects is difficult to calculate and to mitigate.
Inspection sequencing for new construction caters to onsite, stick-built, construction methods. In most states, projects executed using offsite methods are inspected by both the local building and safety department AND a state-licensed engineering firm.
Planning departments are responsible for drawing the map of what goes where, expressed through the municipal General Plan and its derivative, zoning code. Rigid zoning can constrain affordable housing construction, especially by means of offsite/modular methods.
Only a licensed building contractor can legally construct affordable housing or any other major land improvement. Years of experience executing building construction, onsite, using traditional methods is required to qualify for a contractors license. This requirement limits the pool of available qualified skilled labor for onsite projects and complicates the qualification of skilled labor for offsite/modular construction in a factory environment.
Building codes are the basis of the plan check phase of government entitlement review. Adoption of the International Building Code (IBC) as the core of state and municipal building standards ignores modern methods of construction (MMC) including volumetric modular, panelization, and even mixed-methods. Not accounting for MMCs in the building code means that approved assemblies and the way they are constructed drives the availability and cost of building materials.
A synopsis of the housing crisis, the public policy barriers to building modular affordable housing, and the power of smart government to remove barriers and encourage affordable housing.
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Dr. Musson’s doctoral research studies the obstacles to the adoption of offsite/modular construction as a strategy to increase housing production.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
“The most damaging phrase in the language is, ‘it’s always been done that way.’ ”
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
“…the definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power.”