Posts Tagged ‘Blu Homes’

Meet the Modular Housing Builder Google Picked, and their “Industrial Cathedral”

July 26th, 2017 Comments off

Rick Holliday, Google prefab housing project’s builder, credit, Holliday Developments.

A little more than a month ago, the Daily Business News reported on Google’s plans to build modular housing to be used as temporary employee dwellings.

The plans are clearly moving forward, as Rick Holliday’s Factory_OS facility on Mare Island was touted in a local report by the Times Herald as being the builder that Google will use for their project.

Factory_OS is operating out of the Nimitz Avenue “industrial cathedral” previously used by Blu Homes. The Daily Business News has been following Blu Homes for years, as they moved across the country from Massachusetts to California – where they sell single family modular and prefab homes.

Now operating out of Blu’s vacated production center, Factory_OS will be hiring an additional 300 people to take on the project of building Google’s estimated 300 units of multi-family housing.

That staff total will include 160-180 builders and 20-30 management positions, including engineers, draftsmen, and general managers.

We’re creating a family here, where we will pay good salaries with union benefits, and, most importantly, an opportunity for people to be able to learn trades they’ll be able to take with them wherever they go,” said Kevin Brown, business partner of Factory_OS owner Rick Holliday.

People think mobile homes are boxy, but we can do (nearly anything) with the exterior articulation that can be done with a traditionally built building. We have revolutionized the modular building industry,” Brown said.

Holliday is a Bay area native who’s first big project was the Charles Hotel, in 1983 in Vallejo.  The Herald notes Holliday says he’s been developing multi-family housing for 35 years.

His website lists numerous awards for projects he’s done over the years. Those included, the 10th Annual Mountain Home Awards – Mixed Use Award (2013) and 2010′s Best Residential Landscapes.


Graphic above from Holliday Development website, and is provided under fair use guidelines.

Prefabs, MODs and HUDs

While many manufactured housing professionals would wince at the “People think mobile homes are boxy” statement on a variety of levels, it’s the view that Brown expressed.

That represents part of the divide that exists between some among prefab and modular only producers, and those who build HUD Code manufactured homes. A number of manufactured home producers also build modular coded units, as the closing production figures for 2016 in last night’s report on Skyline Corp. demonstrated.

Factory_OS Focus – Multi-Family and Commercial Projects


Blu Homes specializes in single family homes, and we focus on multi-family homes, done in pieces and assembled on site,” Brown said. “This allows for better quality control, because our assembly-line process eliminates having various contractors crawling over each other. It’s faster and more efficient — creating at least a 40 percent construction time savings.”

What happens in a recession, is the labor market shrinks as people leave and costs rise,” Holliday said. “So, I saw this and felt if we don’t start thinking about building housing differently, we are going to have a serious problem, so, the idea of building off-site came to me.”


The Blu Homes Factory that was taken over by Factory OS. Credits, Factory OS


Distance between the Factory OS location, Mare Island, and Silicon Valley, where Google will have their modular homes placed. Credits, Google Maps

The $30 million dollar deal between Factory_OS and Google for 300 units of multi-family style modular housing is what the firm hopes will be the first of many projects.

This is 300 stable jobs, more steady work, good paying jobs, close to where people can afford to live — making it possible to create better value and a better product in the end,” Holliday said. # #  (News.)

(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)

JuliaGranowiczManufacturedHomeLivingNewsMHProNews-comSubmitted by Julia Granowicz to the Daily Business News at MHProNew.






Prefab Making Dreams Come True – In a Hurry

December 19th, 2016 Comments off

Credit: Sacramento Bee.

While thoughts about the “ideal customer” for a prefab modular home may bring visions of sustainability and environmentally conscious young customers, Maura McCarthy of Blu Homes is seeing another segment of the population that’s helping to drive sales.

Aging baby boomers.

PrefabMakingDreamsComeTrueInaHurrycreditSouthSound Magazine-postedtothedailybusinessnewsmhpronewmhlivingnews

Maura McCarthy. South Sound Magazine.

These people are just beginning to retire,” McCarthy said to the Sacramento Bee. “They’re in their mid-60s, their children are out of the nest and they’re planning out the next 30 years of their lives. They’re often looking to downsize to a smaller, well-designed space. 

According to industry experts, the baby boomer segment currently accounts for three out of every four buyers, in large part due to the speed and flexibility of the homes and the majority of the work done on them in a factory setting.

They never see rain or other weather,” said Brian Abramson of Method Homes. “The modules are built in a totally controlled environment. They’re not exposed to mold or mildew during construction.
As Daily Business News readers are aware, the advantages of factory-building for manufactured and modular homes allows not only for protection from the elements, but also allows for cost savings and can save months of time versus a site built home.


Sheri Koones. Credit: Twitter.

Why doesn’t everybody build this way?” said Sheri Koones, author of the latest in her series of pro-modular and prefabricated housing books, Prefabulous Small Houses.”

Prefab homes are the best kept secret in America. People just don’t know about them, but they will.

Koones also spoke to the factory-built advantages.

There’s no junk left over,” Koones noted. “You don’t see a lot of dumpsters at prefab home sites. It’s the ideal way to build a house.

Even though modular may not necessarily mean cheaper in certain instances, Abramson agrees that the aforementioned speed is attractive.

The process compresses time needed to build a home,” said Abramson. “The costs are fixed. It removes a lot of the uncertainty. With on-site construction, it can be hit or miss.


Brian Abramson. Credit: Oregon Live.

Per the Sacramento Bee, Method Homes has built several prefab houses in Washington, which is the top market for modular homes, as well as other western states including California. Method’s designs range from 600 to 8,000 square feet.

Cost varies so much,” Abramson said. “It ranges from $250 to $450 a square foot. It’s comparable to a custom-built on-site home at about $300 a square foot.

Modern modular homes come with green technology and products, such as passive heating systems and whole air filtration, which, according to Koones is a major savings.

We were spending $1,000 a month to heat and cool our old house; now, it’s $170,” said Koones.

That’s important when you’re getting older. It’s easy to maintain, too.


Credit: Blu Homes.

With growth, Blu Homes has made a significant investment. They took over a 250,000-square-foot former Navy building on Mare Island in Vallejo, California. The company hosts open houses and tours at its headquarters.

Blu Homes has invested significant dollars in their marketing efforts, and have produced videos like the one shown below.  Note that Blu builds homes that blend prefab and modular methods, as the video highlights.

Our building used to be where they repaired submarines,” said McCarthy.

It looks like the Eiffel Tower fell on its side, it’s so huge. But it gives us room and we like things being made in California.

The Daily Business News has covered the growth of prefab and modular housing extensively, including Palm Beach, Florida based Green Dwellings, which is working to build the “Tesla of modular homes.” That story is linked here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.


“Amazing Future Homes” Video

November 9th, 2016 Comments off

Credit: HD-Channel.

Modular housing has seen significant progress over the years, with many levels of creativity.

Revolution Homes, which the Daily Business News covered recently, has partnered with a number of designers to create progressive models.

The team at HD-Channel has created a fun video that takes a look at the future of modular homes, and how flexible they can be.


Here in the U.S., Vallejo, California based Blu Homes has worked to create homes similar to what the HD-Channel video shows.


Credit: Blu Homes.

Daily Business News, MHProNews and MHLivingNews Publisher L.A. “Tony” Kovach commented on the video, providing clarity on the use of language.


L A ‘Tony’ Kovach, credit, MHVillage.

The video is certainly interesting,” said Kovach. “In the United States, these homes would best be described as a modular or prefabricated (prefab) home. The other terms suggest that the producers of this video are perhaps from Australia, England or some other nation where terms like “caravan” would be more commonly used than in the U.S.

MHLivingNews has an in-depth comparison of modular and manufactured homes here. ##

(Image credits are as shown above.)


RC Williams, for Daily Business News, MHProNews.

Submitted by RC Williams to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.

Blu Going Green in Bay Area

December 1st, 2011 Comments off

SFGate reports a Massachusetts company is opening a factory on Vallejo’s Mare Island at the site of a former naval base just north of San Francisco. Close to the port of Oakland, and drawing on a nearby workforce of people skilled in home construction and high tech manufacturing, Blu Homes is opening a 250,000 square foot facility to manufacture energy efficient modular homes. Blu sells about a third of its homes in California, has already hired 50 workers, and anticipates its work force may grow to several hundred. Blu President Bill Haney said, “We found this really magical combination here. The notion of combining the white-collar, technology-embracing people on the Peninsula with the blue-collar workers of the East Bay is perfect for us.” Based in Waltham, Mass., a suburb of Boston, Blu has been in business since 2007, using steel for framing instead of wood, and follows green technology in cutting utility costs up to 70 percent. Once used for making submarines, the old hangar is so large that workers use blue bicycles to get around. Modular studios start at $120,000, and the largest model with five bedrooms goes for $500,000, not including the land or the concrete slab. Says Haney, “The trick is not just to do green, but to do green in a way that’s fun to live in and fits the way you live.”

(Photo credit: Brant Ward: The Chronicle)

Modular Home Design Course #101 for Buyers

October 14th, 2011 Comments off

builder reports a consumer friendly user interface to customize your own modular home is now available on line. Borrowing from automotive and aeronautical design and engineering departments, as well as gaming developers, modular builder Blu Homes of Waltham, MA has developed the Configurator, allowing customers to visualize the interior and exterior of a home in 3-D. From six different home styles consumers can choose indoor and outdoor colors, appliances, flooring, finishes, fixtures, and cabinetry. Says Maura McCarthy, co-founder of Blu and vice-president of sales and marketing, “The Configurator puts home buyers in the driver’s seat.” The software allows the viewer to hone in on a particular area of a room, as well as provide a 360 degree panorama of each room. Blu has a 150,000 square foot facility in East Longmeadow, MA and recently acquired a 250,000 square foot building in Vallejo, CA.

Modular Home Unfolds from the Ground Up

February 3rd, 2011 Comments off
A one-and-a-half-minute video from the Asbury Park, New Jersey Press website, via USA Today/Gannett, documents in time lapse sequence, the erection of a modular home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The female voiceover starts: “Factory built homes are becoming more greener and stylish. As this video shows, a Massachusetts based company, Blu Homes, can build an entire house in its factory in weeks, and transport it anywhere in the US by a flatbed truck.” The footage shows the wrapped unit being lifted by a large crane from a flatbed and lowered to the ground as workmen scurry to do the set up. “Within hours the home is placed on a previously laid foundation, and due to a new technology, the walls unfold. Its solar ready roof panels are then attached,” the voice says, as the workers move along the scaffolding to finish the 1200 sq ft home with its two bedrooms, office, and a living-dining room area. Another week is needed to complete the electrical hookups. The footage than switches to a woman looking out of her sliding doors in her solar-powered $160,000 double-section, lovely home, exclaiming that she loves the natural light and the compactness. “Other companies are now offering modern, as well as traditional looking homes, that are so efficient, that roof-top solar panels and wind turbines supply all the power they need,” her voice emphasizing the last five words, as the video pans from a home with an attached deck overlooking a very pleasant green valley, back to the original modular home in North Carolina as the workers put on the finishing touches. The quote at the bottom of the screen says: “Forget the doublewides of old. Today’s factory-built homes include cutting-edge technology that enables them to produce as much energy as they use or ship easily across the country.”

Will the Middle Class Go Green?

January 18th, 2011 Comments off
Personal Finance Bulletin asks in an article Tuesday, can the recovering middle class aspire to owning a truly green, environmentally friendly home? The authors say part of the key is held by the housing industry, whose fortunes are likewise tied to the middle class and its aspirations to the American Dream of home ownership.  The item features several companies including Blu Homes, and Bensonwood Homes, which are working to make green homes affordable and widely available.

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Indiana Paper Sees Prefab as Sitting Pretty

January 18th, 2011 1 comment
From Indiana and the Star Press comes a report that prefab homes are poised to take off as the economy improves. The article says more U.S. consumers and developers are turning to factory-built housing for speed, quality and energy efficiency. The prefab market, the article says, is positioning itself for major growth when the housing industry rebounds. The reporter quotes Tedd Benson of New Hampshire-based Bensonwood Homes saying his company is refining computer software that can do a 3-D home model, then cut, shape and detail each part in the factory, and says Massachusetts-based Blu Homes can truck across the country modules as narrow as 8 feet that unfold to create homes more than twice that width when placed on a foundation. According to the report, more builders are recognizing the potential and entering the market.