Prefabrication: A Solution for Increasing Albuquerque’s Housing Stock

Albuquerque is in the midst of a growing housing crisis, primarily caused by a shortage of available units, in both market rate & affordable housing categories. With metro population growing slowly, but steadily, it’s essential to explore new solutions to increase housing stock quickly and efficiently. Modular construction techniques, sometimes known as prefabrication, offer a viable solution to the housing shortage while providing several other tangible benefits.

About this housing crisis: I’m surprised more alarms have not sounded. Some studies have suggested that the Albuquerque area needs up to 25-32 thousand new units to keep up with projected growth in our market. One of the main advantages of modular construction is speed. Modular units can be prefabricated in a factory setting while the site is being cleared and prepared, significantly reducing the overall construction timeline. The modular units can then be quickly assembled on-site, cutting down on the time and labor required for traditional site-built construction.

Prefabrication can often be more cost-effective than traditional construction methods. Because the units are produced in a controlled factory setting, material waste is minimized, and construction schedules are streamlined, resulting in reduced labor costs.

Albuquerque-based real estate developer Scott Goodman plans to use a mobile micro-factory from New York start-up Cuby Technologies for an affordable multifamily housing project in Taos. It would be the first project in New Mexico to use the compact factory, which produces building components inside inflatable micro-factories that can be placed directly on or near construction sites. Cuby projects its technology can reduce costs by 30% to 40% and cut construction times from months to one week. Goodman’s GOS Capital has committed $50,000 to Cuby and a further $75,000 to Piata, a New Jersey-based firm that has developed a first-of-its-kind rent rewards platform.

Modular construction also provides design flexibility, allowing architects to create unique designs and layouts that would not be feasible with traditional construction methods. This design freedom is with customizable options, including smart devices and sustainable upgrades like solar panels and recycled materials.

However, despite the potential benefits, modular construction is still relatively underutilized in Albuquerque. The community needs to take proactive measures to encourage and incentivize developers to adopt this construction method. In order to keep up with the demand for housing, streamlining the permitting process for modular projects and offering financial incentives, such as tax credits or grants, could encourage developers to explore this method further.

Furthermore, as identified in ABQ Housing Forward plan, we need a trained workforce, ready and available to build our community it’s homes. Local training programs should be developed to support the growth of modular construction in the region. These programs could train workers in specialized skills, such as electrical and plumbing installations unique to modular construction.

The use of modular construction techniques can help address Albuquerque’s housing crisis by reducing construction time, costs, and offering greater design flexibility. As the city continues to grow, it’s essential to explore new and innovative solutions to increase housing stock quickly and efficiently. By promoting and incentivizing modular construction, Albuquerque can meet the demand for affordable housing and provide a path towards a more sustainable future.