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Factory_OS Wants to Build Your Next Apartment in a Factory

With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, the housing crisis is only going to become more dire. Factory_OS hopes to meet that problem head-on by disrupting the way multifamily housing is produced. By building apartment units in a factory setting, it can produce housing more quickly, with as much as 70 percent less waste than standard methods, while creating new job opportunities for a nontraditional workforce. The resulting housing is also more affordable. Watch the video to learn how this innovative company is changing the way multifamily housing is built.

[Video Transcript]

Rick Holliday, CEO, Factory_OS: People need to understand, we need to build a house much more like a car—much more industrialized—and they’ll get a better house at a much better value. It’s ridiculous that we can’t do it.

Carol Galante, Director, Innovation Lab, Factory_OS: We have a perfect storm related to housing right now in the country, but particularly in these higher job-rich communities, where we’ve got incredible pressures on population growth and at the same time, a huge lack of new supply of housing. And you combine all those things, from demographics to that lack of supply, and we just don’t have enough places for people to live. And the cost of producing it is extraordinary.

Holliday: Factory OS is quite simply an off-site construction facility, where we’re gonna industrialize housing construction by building as much of the house as we can here and bringing it to the site.

Larry Pace, COO, Factory_OS: Rick and I both share the same vision, that if we were going to do this, let’s do it to a scalable level, where we can actually change the way housing’s built. The only way to do this and be able to substantially make a change in the cost of construction is to be able to do it so that we can build in a factory setting so that we can truly lower the cost of housing and be far more methodical and pragmatic as we build our buildings and put them up.

Galante: Companies like Factory_OS are absolutely core to solving the housing-affordability issue, by first of all being intentional about saving money through the construction process and all along the supply chain and all along the way the properties are built and designed, and ensuring that there’s an intentionality of bringing the cost down for the consumer who will ultimately live there.

Pace: The benefits start out with being able to have a controlled environment, to being able to have greater quality control in what it is we build, therefore giving greater predictability to the outcome of the project. We can simultaneously build components of the building so that we can dramatically reduce the time of construction to 40 to 50 percent of what’s been traditional.

Andrew Meagher, Architecture & Engineering Lead, Factory_OS: This factory is actually based upon studying many other factories and what their processes are and improving upon them. The very fact that we have 33 stations that come around, and everything is done entirely inside our facility, makes us incredibly efficient. One of the things that we do is, when a person comes in in the morning, all of their tools, all of their supplies, everything is set for that day’s work, so there’s no downtime.

If you go back prior to 10 years, everybody’s dream was modular, then over the course of the last 10 years, modular sort of started, and then it stopped, and it kind of made some headway and it went away, but anytime it got anywhere even close, the product was always unimaginative, very cookie cutter. What we’re doing here is very different.

There’s lots of details that if you tried to do conventionally as one-offs, would be wildly expensive, but in the factory, for example, our millwork and we have a pocket barn door here that we’re able to execute in the factory so efficiently that it’s brought its cost down to what it would be for a standard drywall closet or a standard swing door.

Jay Bradshaw, Director of Organizing, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council (NCCRC): Our culture in Northern California has always been to not fight technology or evolution in the industry, but to embrace it, support it, and be a part of it, and organize it as we go. We know that if we stop evolution in the industry, at some point we become irrelevant. The experiences have been very exciting in that we’ve found workers that have no experience at all in the construction industry—working as food servers or just looking for a chance. Just stuck in low-wage jobs, no benefits, and we’ve been able to build that on-ramp to them here, and then when we support them in our training, now they’re thriving here already, just in a matter of months.

Nancy Holliday, Director of Corporate Wellness, Factory_OS: There’s more reasons than one to come work here; it’s not just money. You have a family here. You have a job that is not gonna end; it’s gonna continue. You know what your commute is. You know when you can get home to your family. You know that you have security. You know that you will be learning on the job. You know you’ll be respected.

Bradshaw: People have really transformed their lives and have been willing to step out of a comfort zone possibly and try something new, especially the women and the men who’ve come in here with no prior construction experience or factory experience.

Galante: It’s really just this incredible almost side benefit of what we’re doing, that we’ve opened up the workforce to more women. We opened up the workforce to more nontraditional construction workers. We have a more ergonomically appropriate environment.

Meagher: There’s a lot of architects who are terrified to go into multifamily because of all of the complexities around waterproofing and accessibility and Type III construction. And we solved all of that here in the factory for them. I think it’s gonna open up the door for a lot of talented architects who normally wouldn’t enter into this market. They now see an opportunity to do so.

Pace: The greatest reward of my work here is the men and women that work at Factory_OS. I’m all about championing the workers. The proof’s in the pudding. I can prove that through the course of my career.

You’re gonna find out when you walk through the facility—it doesn’t matter whether you’re a he-man or you’re a petite individual, anyone can work at Factory_OS.

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