We built the Home of the Future with Grant Imahara


(upbeat music) – The home of the future. It’s been a dream for
decades but can we build one right here in Austin, Texas. The Verge and Curbed have
partnered to bring this dream of the home of the future to life. I’m Grant Imahara and
our goal is to construct a house that combines
cutting edge technology with innovative design. We wanna see if some of the
latest smart home systems and high-efficiency design can create a more secure and convenient environment. and actually improve our daily living. How do we build this Home Of The Future? Well, it all begins in the factory. (eeeeing of grinder) In east Texas construction
company, evolution, builds roughly 85% of
its houses inside this 265,000 square foot warehouse. Each year they complete about 50 homes. These fully constructed
modular units can be finished in 1/3 of the time it takes
to build a house onsite. (crackling of welder)
(eeeeing of grinder) (baarrring of drill) The power of prefabs
or prefabricated homes is that they can be mass produced without compromising quality of design and structural stability. The assembly line construction begins with pouring the concrete floor and once the slab’s been
laid down cranes and hoists pick them up and take them to the line. But the scale of this assembly line is bigger than most. Instead of cars, it’s houses. How long’s it take from
when a slab comes in to the finish line? – We have 17 stations. If we were doing one
box a day you could have a complete box in anywhere
from five to six days. – [Grant] (chuckling) wow. The house is assembled as it rolls down the line on a track. The walls are installed on top then wiring and plumbing. It goes from station-to-station, to sheet rock, the top is placed on, until there you have it, a complete unit. Technically Luna House
is a prefabricated home. For me at least when I first heard about prefabricated homes I have this idea that they are cheap or low quality. Where do you think that that comes from? – I think a lot of it comes from certainly post-World War II era and
the association as well with prefab with modular housing which we also associate
with the mobile home. So you have that kind of
connection in many peoples minds even in so far as a lot
of prefab construction is actually quite high-end. – [Grant] This is Michelle Addington, the Dean, of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. – The opportunity to have
much more precise control over manufacturing in
particular is what enables the greater quality. And so by going factory-built you have an opportunity not only
for higher quality control but the opportunity to use
much higher-end materials because they can be
protected in the factory in a way that they’re not gonna be as protected on a home building site. – [Grant] The downside
is that you can’t deviate from the design once you begin. So, you better be sure
this is what you want. Our Luna House has three
bedrooms and is 60 feet long, and, that’s not changing. And because the factory
is a giant assembly line a problem with one house can delay all the other projects behind it. In fact, our original
house was delayed so long that we needed to switch to a
house further along the line. But even with delays like
these the total amount of time from blueprint approval to completion is around six months on average where as a typical on-site construction could’ve taken up to a year. – Architects have actually been trying to accomplish some level
of factory-built housing for a hundred years and so
it’s gained some traction and some popularity in the last decade with the increasing popularity of design. I think in a general level
that happens with Apple, it happens in the popular press–
– In everyday life. – In everyday life and
so I think that that’s kind of transmitted over
to architecture as well. – [Grant] Architect, Chris
Krager, is the founder of Ma Modular and is the designer of the house we’re building. We’re here at his home. – [Chris] Our business was
founded with a primary goal of making modern, that
kind of architecture, financially accessible. – [Grant] The design
we’re building is called, The Luna House floor plan
made of three modular pieces. Modular design means these
units can be configured in multiple arrangements. They can even be stacked
to create multiple floors. You can think of them like big Lego blocks that an architect can use to create the best design for the
needs of the homeowner. Our house is composed
of three main pieces. One large module that
includes one bedroom, kitchen and living room
and a smaller module that has two bedrooms
connected by a bathroom and a third module for the entryway that acts as a connection
for the other two. – [Chris] We’re working with a framework that I think is amenable
to open-floor plans, lots of windows and so I think
it is very modern-friendly. You also get to choose all your fixtures and finishes, flooring. There’s definitely adequate
room for customization with the finish in the house. – I gotta say, I knew that
it was modular construction but it really didn’t feel like it. – That is our goal with
the design for it to feel, not just like not a modular house, but to feel like an
architect-designed house. – If you were to drive
on this block you’d say, well I think an architect designed that so it automatically ups its cache. – [Grant] But there’s
still a lot of hurdles before you can really think
of this kind of construction as being, the future of home building. – When you deal with something
that’s premanufactured there’s a tremendous
amount of upfront cost in setting up that type of manufacturing particularly if you wanna
get the economies of scale of building large. If we think about single family homes there is very little upfront investment. You can basically build in real-time in terms of procurement of materials. So the costs are incremental
from that standpoint. – [Grant] While we wait to see what the future will hold
for factory-built homes our home has already been
placed on the ground. Right now though, it’s still just a shell. Over the next few months
we’ll work to finish off everything inside of
the home, create our own power generation and storage and fill it with the latest connected technology for comfort and convenience. It’ll be hard work, but in the end we’ll get a glimpse into what it means to actually live inside
the home of the future. Thank you so much for watching. Now I’m sitting here in
our home of the future but I’m curious to know
what you think you need in your home of the future? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll see ya next
week with a new episode.

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