Home Technology Plant Prefab Raises $42 Million to Build ‘Extremely Sustainable’ Custom Homes – businessroundups.org

Plant Prefab Raises $42 Million to Build ‘Extremely Sustainable’ Custom Homes – businessroundups.org

by Ana Lopez
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Prefabricated houses always seem to be on the cusp of something big – solving housing shortages, tackle systemic waste or just in general usher in in the very current.But in the US, new prefab homes still represent a small portion of the market (approx 2% of, for example, single-family homes built in 2021).

It is now clear that prefabrication was not a panacea The housing crisis in America, but Plant Prefab says its vision for it — along with $42 million in additional funding and a new factory — will still have an impact, eventually delivering a whopping 900,000 square feet of “extremely sustainable” and “extremely healthy” homes per year . The startup estimates that this represents about 800 units annually, in a mix of houses, condos and apartments.

Many startups make prefab homes, including Veev, Mighty Buildings, Cover, Modulous and Factory OS. Plant Prefab says its focus on developing bespoke homes for urban areas is unique.

“The vast majority of companies out there are geared toward standard homes,” offering a selection of models with customizable finishes and fixtures, CEO Steve Glenn told businessroundups.org. In contrast, he said Plant Prefab works with architects to prefabricate their designs because they “understand the local language, local permitting process, local materials and local needs.” He added, “we want to give them a more efficient way.”

The CEO described Plant Prefab’s building system as “our own Legos in a way.” The company produces panels with built-in infrastructure. “We combine it into specialized modules for kitchens, baths, utilities — in other words, the expensive parts of the house,” he said. And on the software side, Glenn said the company offers a 3D configurator and works with third-party CAD software to build a “structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing model of every home we build so we can for absolutely accurate take-offs” and limit construction waste.

The new, automated facility will be a “major change for us,” Glenn told businessroundups.org. He said the company currently produces about 40 homes a year through two other facilities. “Our average project takes three months, so we’re damn fast, but significantly faster in the new facility and at a much lower cost,” he added. As things were, Glenn said the company made $16 million in revenue last year.

Aerial view of Plant Prefab's incoming factory in Tejon Ranch, California.

An aerial view of Plant Prefab’s incoming factory in Tejon Ranch, California. Image Credits: Plant prefabricated

Quote carbon emission savings associated with urban living, Glenn believes the company’s focus on faster urban fill-in will ultimately help the planet. The company’s environmental claims also include designs for energy and water conservation, using recycled drywall and insulation, as well as more environmentally friendly paints, and buying carbon offsets to cover “our homes’ first two years of operation,” Glenn said. He added: “We have designed the first ever home to be LEED Platinum certified in the history of the program [and we’ve] had more than 30 homes certified LEED Platinum.” The startup is also one B Corp.

Not counting electricity, the construction industry made up 14% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. What’s worse is that things are going in the wrong direction: The company is “not on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” warned a Report 2022 of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The new round of Plant Prefab consists of about $30 million in equity capital led by Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau, as well $12 million in debt from Silicon Valley-based Western Technology Investments and ATEL Capital. Other investors looking to get involved on the equity side include Tokyo-based chemical company Asahi Kasei, a Brown University Alumni Group and Unreasonable collectivea business club. That’s on top of early upgrades from companies like Amazon and Obvious Ventures.

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