Just as the pandemic spurred a building boom, it did the same for off-site construction company Factory OS. Factory OS constructs apartment building components on Mare Island in Vallejo, Calif., then ships the pieces out to their final destination, cutting down apartment construction in half. Factory OS systems will take about 11 to 12 months from start to finish, co-founder Rick Holliday told The New York Times, and costs are also cut up to 30%. Holliday, 68, said building today is no different than it was when he entered the industry at age 26.
“If we don’t take a different approach to building, we’re not going to get anywhere.” So far, Factory OS has completed 10 buildings for a total of roughly 1,200 units in Northern California and gotten financial backing from tech companies like Google, Autodesk and Facebook.
A year and a half after opening its doors, the pandemic hit. Even as demand for housing accelerated, construction stalled. Prices skyrocketed for crucial materials like lumber, even further increasing the cost to build and worsening California’s affordability crisis, particularly in the already pricey Bay Area, where the median price for a single-family home now tops $1 million. Nationally, home prices were up a record 18 percent in July over the same month last year, according to data from CoreLogic.
Mr. Holliday said the upshot is that more developers in this staid, traditional industry have been willing to experiment in an attempt to cut costs and get projects done quickly. As a result: “We’ve been flooded with work.” Factory OS has expanded to add a second factory right behind the first. The company has 24 more projects in the pipeline and is planning to open a third factory in Los Angeles in the next two years to meet demand in Southern California.