|In a nation of hybrid cars, crops, medicines, and even music,
scientific visionaries take the best of the past and combine
that with new ideas, materials, and technologies. The future
arrives with each new achievement. And such is the case with
the home construction technology of “systems-built”
homes, according to Grant Smereczynsky, CEO of Building Systems
Network, Gainesville, GA.
Systems-built, industrialized, or modular home construction
(formerly called pre-fabricated [pre-fab] construction) has
moved into a strong position in home construction trends.
“Systems-built housing has grown at a rate of 10 percent
over the last five years and is forecast to increase its market
share by 12 percent annually,” Smereczynsky said. Why?
Systems-built homes respond to the needs expressed by America’s
homebuyers: high quality built at greater speed in optimum
conditions with significant cost savings compared to traditional
site-built homes. The entire spectrum of the housing market—from
affordable single-family and multi-family housing to high-end
luxury homes—is covered by today’s industrialized
home construction industry.
Smereczynsky latest project is “The Homestead,”
his own “modular mansion,” in Hall County—a
true homestead in the fullest sense of the word. BSN’s
largest luxury home, the Homestead Built in Plant By Professional
Building Systems of North Carolina is appraised at $895,000
with 6,800 square feet of living space over a 3,000-plus square
feet basement. Behind the main house is a matching garden
house, complete with an oak-trimmed front porch, children’s
playroom, garden room, and woodworking shop. A detached, three-car
garage with an 1,100 square feet guest apartment sets adjacent
to the main house.
The main house offers a retreat-type lifestyle infused with
luxury finishes and handcrafted details. Natural materials
suggesting “heritage” are found throughout, including
hand-hewn Amish hardwood floors, and handcrafted oak trims.
The design features granite kitchen counters, two fireplaces,
a state-of-the-art theatre room, craft room, teen suite, and
cozy finished porches. A highlight of this retreat is the
homeowner’s suite with a 600 square foot master bedroom,
and elegant marble finishes throughout the master bath.
The blending of hand-craftsmanship and heritage materials
with the industrialized building process of this “systems-built”
home is a significant example of how home construction technology
has evolved in general. The Homestead represents a trend in
American homebuilding as an example of what can be accomplished
through the advanced technologies of the modular building
process combined with custom finishes.
Overall, it is the homeowner who benefits from the increased
efficiency of industrialized home construction. Unlimited
customization, superior quality control, reduced waste of
materials which brings down costs for the buyer, and faster
completion (30-60 days) versus two to eight months for site-built
construction are primary benefits.
It only makes sense that home construction techniques have
evolved like this, out of necessity. The growing shortage
of skilled trades people is causing many builders to switch
from site-building to industrialized building. For decades,
builders have constructed homes on-site in unfavorable weather
conditions which compromise the building materials from the
effects of dust and dirt, rain and snow, and extreme heat
and cold. It is the homeowner that ultimately pays the price.
Their finished home can include dirt and dust inside the walls
and flooring which recycles throughout the air vents after
they move in. Their framing may have been rained on, resulting
in dampness potentially remaining in the studs, flooring,
and insulation that can contribute to mildew. Extreme sun
can cause dry rot and warping of lumber. Homebuyers who ignore
these factors are not protecting the well-being of their families
unless they demand improvements and more rigorous quality
control from their builder.
PBS constructs modules like roof sections, insulated wall
sections, and floor sections, complete with electrical wiring
and plumbing, in a controlled factory environment—to
the same building codes as traditional site built homes. The
construction process, as well as the 300-step quality control
process, surpasses what is able to be accomplished onsite
in uncontrolled factors including workers, weather, and materials
control. In the state of Georgia, for example, the Department
of Community Affairs must stamp each systems-built home with
its seal of approval as proof of meeting all construction
codes to its high standards.
Design options of today surpass the limited options of yesterday’s
pre-fab models. Draftsmen have used computer-aided design
(CAD) techniques for years to draw the actual elevations and
floor plans for site-built homes. Now, computerization is
applied to the mass customization of industrial-built modules
used to construct homes. Modular builders are able to meet
homebuyer’s precise design needs. This contrasts with
the pre-fabs of the past when the industry offered only a
few standard models with limited options.
With such benefits of modular homes afforded to home buyers,
one could question, why would homebuyers buy anything but
a modular home? Some consumers may be confused by misconceptions
about “manufactured” or mobile homes (built under
entirely different zoning, building codes and processes) versus
modular, industrialized homes. They may not yet be educated
about systems-built home construction methods, the development
and growth of the industry, or the fact that its technology
has developed into a fine art.
Just as there have been inferior quality pre-fab homes built
in the past, there have also been inferior onsite built homes.
These are facts that shouldn’t be ignored as we benefit
from the history of home construction, but outmoded ideas
cannot stand in the way of recognizing that today’s
systems-built homes are emerging into the forefront of home
This is so true that in cities, counties, and states across
the country, some laws and codes have to be revised and updated
to accommodate the modular building methods. Progress in construction
techniques is surpassing our existing traditions, laws and
codes. “The faster America’s lawmakers and zoning
officials respond to the call for updated codes and ordinances,
the better the homebuilding industry can respond to our homeowner’s
needs, as well as eliminate the discriminative codes affecting
modular home building,” Smereczynsky said. Any city
or county should already include planning for systems-built
homes in their 10-year plan, which every city zoning commission
is required to have, to make way for this home construction
method that is moving in across the country.
As with any new hybrid, it’s up to the industry to
educate consumers on the benefits of these latest developments.
It is people with an eye for the future in building trends—America’s
“visioneers”— who are investing wise dollars
in either developing industrialized modular systems, or who
are buying a systems-built home. Smereczynsky invites you
to the BSN showroom in Gainesville, GA to see photos and talk
to staff about systems-built homes. For convenience, visit
the BSN website at www.buildingsystemsnetwork.com. Or www.pbsmodsnc.com.