Pride of place—How builders shape their communities

Many Americans find themselves forced to make big sacrifices to own a home. What can builders and developers do to make more homes affordable for more people?
Creating more affordable single-family homes requires some creative solutions. (Photo: Liderina, Dreamstime.com)

For example, she consulted with the City of Gunnison on a project currently in pre-development. The city purchased a large parcel, with several acres earmarked for park space and wetland conservation. The city realized that some of the land purchased was suitable for housing. 

[Related: Trump issues executive order on affordable housing, eliminating regulations]

“Housing was one of their top community goals because they’re increasingly seeing that their housing stock is getting out of reach for the local workforce, and not having housing has been in impediment to their economic development,” Williford said “As they layered in a public-private partnership for housing, then this site they had was actually meeting more of their community goals.”

However communities approach adding more affordable housing options, Williford noted that builders are a critical part of the solution.

“They’re always the ones doing the hard work of getting something constructed and dealing with the risks and the vagaries of the market,” she said. “In the communities where I work, I see a lot of committed builders who really help with all those incremental decisions that can go into something being constructed affordably here.”

The problem with modular

In addition to the high cost and scarcity of land, the high cost and scarcity of labor also drives up home prices. It would seem that modular construction, which can cut project times in half, should be at least part of the solution to the lack of affordable homes.

Sandy Christy, design consultant at Castle Rock-based Liscott Homes, a custom modular home builder, believes the answer is more nuanced.

“The cost and time that it takes to build a modular home is about half the time and a lower cost than it would be compared to, say, somebody doing a traditional onsite stick build,” he said. However, the cost of the home is just one part of the equation. Land and site work will be just as expensive for a modular project as they will for a traditional build.

A key question in weighing the cost and benefits of a modular project is who is paying for it: a developer or a homeowner.

“From a customer standpoint, I’m not sure [modular] is the easiest comparison because at the end of day, it’s still a one-off, custom-built home, which is always going to be more expensive,” Christy said.

Danielle Andrus

Editor, Colorado Builder Magazine

Danielle Andrus has 284 posts and counting. See all posts by Danielle Andrus

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