16 January, 2021

We built the Home of the Future with Grant Imahara

(upbeat music) – The home of the future.

It's been a dream fordecades but can we build one right here in Austin, Texas.

The Verge and Curbed havepartnered to bring this dream of the home of the future to life.

I'm Grant Imahara andour goal is to construct a house that combinescutting edge technology with innovative design.

We wanna see if some of thelatest 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 constructioncompany, evolution, builds roughly 85% ofits houses inside this 265, 000 square foot warehouse.

Each year they complete about 50 homes.

These fully constructedmodular units can be finished in 1/3 of the time it takesto build a house onsite.

(crackling of welder)(eeeeing of grinder) (baarrring of drill) The power of prefabsor 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 beenlaid 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 fromwhen a slab comes in to the finish line? – We have 17 stations.

If we were doing onebox a day you could have a complete box in anywherefrom 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 Houseis 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 andthe association as well with prefab with modular housing which we also associatewith the mobile home.

So you have that kind ofconnection in many peoples minds even in so far as a lotof 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 havemuch more precise control over manufacturing inparticular is what enables the greater quality.

And so by going factory-built you have an opportunity not onlyfor higher quality control but the opportunity to usemuch higher-end materials because they can beprotected in the factory in a way that they're not gonna be as protected on a home building site.

– [Grant] The downsideis that you can't deviate from the design once you begin.

So, you better be surethis is what you want.

Our Luna House has threebedrooms and is 60 feet long, and, that's not changing.

And because the factoryis a giant assembly line a problem with one house can delay all the other projects behind it.

In fact, our originalhouse was delayed so long that we needed to switch to ahouse further along the line.

But even with delays likethese 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 levelof factory-built housing for a hundred years and soit's gained some traction and some popularity in the last decade with the increasing popularity of design.

I think in a general levelthat happens with Apple, it happens in the popular press— In everyday life.

– In everyday life andso I think that that's kind of transmitted overto architecture as well.

– [Grant] Architect, ChrisKrager, 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 wasfounded with a primary goal of making modern, thatkind of architecture, financially accessible.

– [Grant] The designwe're building is called, The Luna House floor planmade of three modular pieces.

Modular design means theseunits can be configured in multiple arrangements.

They can even be stackedto create multiple floors.

You can think of them like big Lego blocks that an architect can use to create the best design for theneeds of the homeowner.

Our house is composedof three main pieces.

One large module thatincludes one bedroom, kitchen and living roomand a smaller module that has two bedroomsconnected by a bathroom and a third module for the entryway that acts as a connectionfor the other two.

– [Chris] We're working with a framework that I think is amenableto open-floor plans, lots of windows and so I thinkit is very modern-friendly.

You also get to choose all your fixtures and finishes, flooring.

There's definitely adequateroom for customization with the finish in the house.

– I gotta say, I knew thatit was modular construction but it really didn't feel like it.

– That is our goal withthe design for it to feel, not just like not a modular house, but to feel like anarchitect-designed house.

– If you were to driveon this block you'd say, well I think an architect designed that so it automatically ups its cache.

– [Grant] But there'sstill a lot of hurdles before you can really thinkof this kind of construction as being, the future of home building.

– When you deal with somethingthat's premanufactured there's a tremendousamount of upfront cost in setting up that type of manufacturing particularly if you wannaget 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 incrementalfrom that standpoint.

– [Grant] While we wait to see what the future will holdfor factory-built homes our home has already beenplaced on the ground.

Right now though, it's still just a shell.

Over the next few monthswe'll work to finish off everything inside ofthe 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 insidethe home of the future.

Thank you so much for watching.

Now I'm sitting here inour home of the future but I'm curious to knowwhat you think you need in your home of the future? Let us know in the comments below and we'll see ya nextweek with a new episode.


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