Building a community of small homes in California

11 Replies

I am in the planning process of building a small home community (650-950sqft) in the Sacramento area. The zoning will be RD-20 (20 units per acre). The goal is to have an attractive option for single family detached workforce housing- a middle ground between apartment living and single family homes. My goal is to make it a community that fosters connections between residents. I have had meetings with both Sacramento and Placer counties and have talked within the community/some investors and I have a LOT of support. 

In order to make this work financially, I need the homes to be built (vertical construction) for a maximum average of $80,000 per unit (between $100-110 psqft). In California, getting anything built that cheap is near-impossible. I'm looking at prefabricated/modular homes and it seems that I can achieve this going that route. Has anyone been successful with decreasing cost of building using economies of scale in prefab homes? I'd love to hear input/suggestions! If you have used a certain company for prefab that you love, I'd also like to hear about it!

What an incredible concept. I love it . Have called the manufactured/ modular manufacturers to ask them this question or contact some local dealers. I have a couple of clients that are dealers and the most we have done are 4 at a time which of course brought the cost done quite a bit

@Account Closed  I have called a couple dealers. I’d rather go direct go the manufacturer and cut out the middle man- but US Modular talked a good game (sounded sales pitchy, so I’m not sure about them yet) and I also found another company out of Idaho with a local representative that I’m waiting to hear numbers from. Anyone in particular you recommend calling? I’m wanting a modern style, not standard modular/standard home looking. 

I have an architect friend that has been working on similar projects in the Bay Area and Truckee. They are working directly with Hallmark Southwest out of Loma Linda.

I have a 19 home subdivision in the works in Arden Arcade behind the Haggin Oaks golf course and I will be doing prefab. My goal is be able to bring 1500 sq ft 3/2’s to the market in the $325-350k range.

@Joe Bertolino  How awesome! I’d love to talk to you over coffee one day! Working in the same area! I looked at Hallmark but they didn’t have any houses with the style I am interested in. Maybe I can design something with an architect like you said to get what I want. Do they have a warehouse nearby? 

You are looking at just the hard costs of the home at that price yes? Not any of the site or soft costs? That seems really close. I've seen commercial vertical builds in that area at $135 per sf on modular hotels.

We did an 850sf 3 bedroom home for $79k before 2 hours north of Sac. It can be done.

@Ashley Moyer , what an awesome idea! Are you trying to build something like a tiny home community like the ones in the link below?

I think to keep costs down, prefab is the way to go! I'm working on a multi-family project at work now and the client opted to go with prefab walls for most of the walls. I visited the manufacturer and they mentioned the benefits of going prefab is the costs you save from on site labor and the schedule. On site stick framing tends to take longer and you'll have to pay for those framers on site. When I visited the manufacturer, there were two guys framing walls one after another in an assembly line that looked so efficient and quick!

Tiny homes and airstream communities/ hotels seem to be the hot thing now!

Good luck on this journey and please keep us posted on your progress!

@Josh Cuthbertson Yes that is the price of just the hard cost of the vertical build. I have been speaking with the county and a local developer (they are my consultant on this project) regarding the soft costs of the land development/preparing the site.  Did you build it on site or was there a modular manufacturer that you used?

@Sherwin Gonzales Thank you! I am really attracted to the reduced schedule time and reduced waste with modular construction. I'll keep you guys updated on how it goes! I'd love to hear about your multi-family project!

Hi @Ashley Moyer , one thing to check on, make sure you are researching and tracking the all in cost of the modular. Make sure you have coverage for your site work, utilities, and foundations (as needed for modular), plus the modular cost AND modular delivery, placement/crane work, and any finishing AFTER installed. 

I have not, over my career, seen modular able to come in lower cost than site built, assuming you have good subs on a site built property. We investigated a modular build on one of our infill apartment projects in SoCal. The PSF hard cost came in just right, but then when you added the sitework, exterior final finish, and the crane/deliver cost, the idea went upside down.

I sent you a DM response as well. Reach out as needed.