IpHaus: Providing Housing Solutions for NYC’s Vacant Lots
End-to-end platform for design + manufacture + build of modular prefabricated homes
April 2021 | Makers of Multipliciti
Makers of Multipliciti is a series of interviews with architects, manufacturers and developers to uncover the challenges in the construction industry and explore possibilities of manufacturing future buildings.
What building solutions is IpHaus creating?
IpHaus is an end-to-end services platform for design + manufacture + build of modular prefabricated homes.
We have evolved to respond to solving problems with housing availability, affordability, and energy efficiency. We’re currently focused on the NYC housing market.
Although New York’s complex planning environment makes it one of the nation’s most challenging cities to build in, its dense urban fabric and frequently underutilized spaces presents opportunities to combine novel technologies and development approaches to meet current housing challenges.
IpHaus’ technology allows for up to 60% faster build times, reduces the need for heavy equipment, and integrates with both circular material economies (recycling and upcycling), as well as nodal energy networks.
How did the co-founders meet and decided to work on IpHaus together?
The co-founders of IpHaus are truly global. We’ve drawn on our experiences working on housing challenges from New York City to Mongolia in order to rewrite housing construction norms. We have complimentary interests and skill sets with expertise in architectural design, material sciences, urban analysis and finance.
From day one our collaboration was always towards a holistic approach to housing challenges, spanning land and energy economics, construction technology, next-generation design and finance. Creating attainable and energy efficient housing is one of the foremost challenges of our century and a pivotal component in improving carbon emissions and human dignity.
What is unique about the Infill Lot Housing Solution for New York City’s vacant lots?
Infill lots in NYC are created for a variety of reasons.
Oftentimes zoning and construction codes leave spaces literally ‘zoned out’ of utility. Others are smaller, more awkward to access, or just of inappropriate scale for developers to efficiently fold into the real estate economy. In aggregate, these ‘dead end’ or ‘leftover’ spaces represent a huge reserve of resources and value in markets where housing is in critical short supply.
Some estimates give the number of vacant lots in New York City today at over 10,000. Communities across the city are collaborating to find creative uses for these, but among the most valuable uses for them will always be providing viable, affordable housing.
How does IpHaus reduce construction costs by 20% per square foot?
Until recently, construction has been one area of the economy that has been slow to be truly embraced by the ‘tech’ economy. Nevertheless, the roots in modular and prefabricated housing technologies go back over a century, first being popularized in the U.S. with Sears Kit Homes in the 1910s. The rush to build during wartime led to poor quality outputs that weren’t intended to be permanent housing and tarnished the reputation of prefab and modular housing for a generation.
More recently this technology is coming back into favor in a big way since it is fundamentally more cost efficient to manufacture structures off-site and at scale. Adding in robotics and BIM platforms helps further enhance efficiency, also adding opportunities for mass-customization of everything from Adjunct Dwelling Units to mid-rise hotels.
In reducing costs IpHaus uses the fact that manufacturing in factories is simply more cost efficient, less materially wasteful and more precise. From here we add unique value in three areas.
First our designs also enhance savings at the construction stage of the process by reducing the need for heavy equipment such as large cranes.
Second, we are highly focused on cyclical economies in order to dramatically reduce both short- and long- term construction waste.
Third, we’re spearheading a platform for identifying under-utilized sites and use modular construction to build on them faster and at lower cost.
IpHaus’s building solutions are designed for manufacturing, how do you manage an effective supply chain to ensure timely project completion?
Manufacturing off-site and using a modular system obviously poses a unique set of challenges, since any variances in components will impact construction scheduling.
From day one we understood that we would need to develop best-practice supply-chain monitoring — from design through shipping, to construction, each IpHaus component is digitally tracked and quality controlled to ensure seamless, high quality project delivery.
Ensuring compliance across jurisdictions is also critical and this means doing a lot of due diligence to understand local variables in everything from planning codes to local residential typologies and climate. Our proprietary technology also allows for quick assembly on site, minimizing the need for added equipment for installation. This enables us to deliver better quality end products and seamless construction, reducing on site errors and eradicating construction waste.