How long does the process take?
There are three major phases to a project: design, approvals, and construction.
The design phase typically takes 2 to 4 months to design one of our model homes. During this phase, we prepare the architectural and structural drawings necessary to get a building permit and you select finishes and appliances.
The approvals phase can take as little as 1 to 2 months in jurisdictions with quick plan check times. If your local jurisdiction requires planning department approval or design review approval prior to submitting to the building department, it will take more time. The time it takes to get local approvals depends on the planning and building departments’ backlog and staffing resources available. If you are building in highly regulated areas, like those needing coastal commission review, you expect a much longer approval schedule.
Once you receive all of the local approvals needed, the construction phase typically takes 6 to 8 months. The timing depends on the size of the home, the complexity of the site, and the distance from our factory. During this phase, we build your modules in our factory, deliver them to your site, and send a crew to finish the home once they are installed on the foundation. We will be updating you on your project schedule, so you are prepared for your move-in date.
How are Connect Homes different?
We think building a home can be more like ordering a car than commissioning an opera.
1. Our architects have plans already done, so you can see what you’re going to get without spending significant money on architectural fees.
2. We can build your house in less than half the time of a fully custom home.
3. Most of the cost of your home is quoted up front, so budget overruns, change orders and hidden fees are substantially reduced if not eliminated.
4. We complete 90% of the home modules in our San Bernardino factory. This includes doors, windows, cabinets, finishes, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical. This limits the amount of on-site work, thus reducing waste and allowing a higher level of control during construction.
What technology does Connect Homes use?
We think of the technology behind Connect Homes as a building system. That system has several desirable characteristics:
1. Higher Quality: First, it is based on a steel frame module. Steel provides high quality, both in terms of strength and in terms of precision dimensions.
2. Open Spaces: Second, our module design allows long spans (40 feet) so that our designs can have large window walls and big open spaces. We can build up to three stories high. We offer designs with 18’ ceiling heights. And we can do designs from small (640 square feet) to large (3,200 square feet).
3. Better Reliability: Third, our system modules are assembled in our factory. Because most of our work is done indoors, weather damage isn’t hiding under the surface. Our workers are also highly trained and experienced in the materials and methods of our system, which helps to maintain high fit and finish levels. And we carefully measure and manage our materials and components so that we know what works.
4. Shorter Design And Build Time: With Connect Homes, you can choose a design, select finishes and apply for any local approvals in less time than it would take to find an architect and get on his or her schedule. Once approvals and financing are complete, your home can be built in a few months. Site preparation happens at the same time that your modules are in the factory. Completion of your home, once modules arrive, takes only a few weeks.
Where can I build a Connect Home?
We’ve engineered our building system to be transported at a relatively low cost. So, in principle we can build anywhere in the continental United States. Since we do send a crew to finish the installation of the modules on site, there is an additional cost for remote deliveries over 60 miles from our San Bernardino, CA factory. We haven’t set up our east coast distribution, so the costs are higher for us to service that coast. If you build one of our homes on the east coast, there will be additional fees to account for added transportation, lodging, and travel costs. At this time, we are not able to deliver or build our homes overseas.
The final step of delivery involves trucks, so your land must be accessible by a 70′ long semi-trailer. In addition, we need to be able to access your building site with a tower crane that needs about 40′ X 30′ level space to stage during installation. Contact us to arrange for an online assessment of your site.
WHAT ARE CONNECT HOMES?
Are Connect Homes prefab?
“Prefab” is used with a wide variety of meanings, so the answer depends on what you mean. Connect Homes are not pre-fabricated kits of parts assembled on site, which some people call prefab. Connect Homes are not mobile homes or manufactured homes. Our homes are permanent, modular structures using advanced engineering to meet or exceed local building code requirements. Connect Homes are built using our patented modules, which offer several advantages over any other building method.
Are Connect Homes solidly built?
Yes, in fact, we think our construction quality is substantially higher than in typical homes.
One reason for our high quality level is that Connect Homes are built using a steel frame, rather than the typical wood frame construction used in residential work. The steel perimeter frame we use is welded together using a special high-strength process. Major sections of your Connect Home are bolted together. Contrast that with typical construction using wood as the base material and nails as the predominant fastener.
The precise dimensions of steel construction result in better fit at seams, with the result that window and door swings and slides function better over time. Another advantage is that the strength of the steel, combined with short span joists, yield low flex and vibration in the floors.
The frame sections are welded to plates that are embedded in a reinforced concrete foundation. The exact foundation design is engineered for local soil conditions, with attention paid to ensuring longevity. But this approach means your Connect Home is stronger and more tightly connected to the land than with conventional building.
Are Connect Homes container homes?
No. Shipping containers are very poorly suited for residential construction. Among the reasons are that shipping containers are engineered around the assumption of metal walls being part of the structure. Remove the walls, which you need to do for windows and to allow realistic floor plans (you probably don’t want to live in 8’ wide rooms with almost no windows), and the structural integrity goes away. Shipping containers are also extensively treated to work for years in an ocean environment, which means large amounts of hazardous materials must be stripped away before they are suited to residential living. This is not cost effective or environmentally wise.
Connect Homes do use many of the same transportation systems that are used for containers. This is a very efficient intermodal (truck, rail and ship) system, which allows us to serve the entire U.S. from a single factory. But what we ship, although container-shaped, are not containers per se.
Are Connect Homes manufactured homes?
No. Our homes are considered modular or factory-built housing and not manufactured homes. Manufactured homes are synonymous with mobile homes, which are designed to federal (HUD) guidelines. Manufactured homes have a chassis permanently attached to its base, so that they can be moved in the future. Manufactured homes are also typically not attached to a foundation and depreciate in value.
Connect Homes are modular homes that are permanently attached to a reinforced concrete foundation making it real property that appreciates like any other real estate. Our steel frames get welded to steel plates on top of the foundation walls to make this permanent connection. You cannot move our homes after they are installed, just like a conventional site-built home. We have to design our homes to meet or exceed the state codes, such as building, fire, energy, and earthquake.
Do you design and build custom homes?
No. In order to provide a high level of design that is cost effective and faster to build, we design and build standard model home designs. See our models page for the various model homes we offer.
Do I need an architect to work with Connect Homes?
No. We will be your architect and provide the architectural and structural drawings necessary to get your home permitted and approved by the local jurisdiction having authority.
Can you design and build a detached ADU that is 1,200 sf?
How much can I customize a Connect Home?
Connect Homes will allow for some customization. We suggest you think of our approach like you would think about ordering a car – you can change the colors and some of the options, but you can’t change the wheelbase or the location of the engine. Here are some general rules:
1. We ask that you work with our existing set of floor plans. You may browse our current model home plans here. Click the model to see the floor plan and pricing.
2. Once you find a plan that works, you can make some modifications to window openings (e.g. sometimes the existing plan anticipates that the “back” and “front” of the house are opposite where they occur naturally on your lot).
3. Once we begin design, we will provide a detailed fit-out sheet that describes the standard options in your home. If you would like to use a different finish, fixture, or appliance, you can upgrade from the standard specification.
4. Kitchen and bathroom locations and layouts cannot be changed.
In reality, you don’t have to do all of these steps by yourself. Our project manager and architects will work with you to understand your needs and propose efficient approaches.
What are the dimensions of your modules?
Our typical module is 8′-0″ wide X 40′-0″ long and 320 square feet. Our model homes are named after the number of modules used. For example, our Connect 2 model home has two modules, so the footprint of this home is 16′-0″ X 40′-0″.
The height of the module is typically between 10′-6″ to 11′-0″ from bottom of floor beam to top of roof.
What are the ceiling heights in a Connect Home?
It depends on if the home is a single story or two-story home.
Our single story homes have a standard ceiling height of 8’ – 5 3/4” and you can upgrade to a 6″ taller ceiling of 8′ – 11 3/4″.
In our two story homes, the first floor has a standard ceiling height of 8’ – 2 3/4” and you can upgrade to a 6″ taller ceiling of 8′ – 8 3/4″ or a 9″ taller ceiling of 8′ – 11 3/4″. The second floor has a standard ceiling height of 8′ – 2 3/4″ and you can upgrade to a 3″ taller ceiling of 8′ – 5 3/4″.
How are Connect Homes energy efficient?
One of the key design goals for Connect Homes is to be truly green. Part of this comes from green materials and part of this comes from a low-waste construction process. And we’ve also designed Connect Homes for superior energy efficiency. There are many details, but just to give you an idea:
1. We typically use a “Cool Roof” system that has a solar reflectance index of 107 and reflects up to 90% of incident heat.
2. Our roofing system is built to R-38 insulation levels (code normally only requires R-30).
3. Our exterior walls are built to R-21 insulation levels (code normally only requires R-13).
4. Our windows and doors use low-E glass, with a U factor that blocks most UV light.
5. Our light fixtures use energy conserving LED lamps.
Can I have a “green” roof on my Connect Home?
We use a “cool roof system” that reflects most of the heat generated by the sun, thus reducing your air conditioning costs. The insulation below the roof surface is R-38 rated and the building code is generally sets the minimum at R-30. Given this, the roof can be considered a “green” feature. If you would like to have a roof with green vegetation, unfortunately, we cannot add this to the home.
Does Connect Homes install solar panels?
No. However, many of our clients choose to make the home “solar ready” where we provide conduit from the utility room up to the roof, so a separate solar company can easily install panels, wiring, and the inverter.
I don’t own land yet. What should I look for in a property?
The characteristics of your property will greatly influence your site work costs. As a first recommendation, look for a flat or very gentle slope. This will avoid the added costs of building on a sloping lot. Don’t bother looking at hillside lots, unless you are prepared to spend more on the site work than the house itself. The ideal size of a lot is 50′ X 100′, but we have built on lots as small as 25′ wide using the Connect 4L floor plan. In certain areas like Los Angeles, tearing down an existing home is the only option as all of the viable lots have been developed.
Power lines can get in the way of the crane used during installation, so ideally, the power line is at the back of the lot or underground. If the power line is in front, we can still build there, if there is room in the front of the lot for the crane (about 30′ X 40′ clear for a 90 ton crane) and the truck trailer, which is about 8′ X 40′. Also, it’s advisable to look for lots with utilities already on site to save on your utility infrastructure costs. If buying a vacant lot, work with an agent who is familiar with vacant lot purchases. The title company can also help you vet properties by providing easement information and if there are any additional restrictions on the land, like CC&R’s.
What type of foundation does a Connect Home have?
Our steel-framed modules are permanently attached to a reinforced concrete system of stem walls and piers. Steel weld plates are embedded into the foundation. After the modules are delivered, the floor beams of the modules get welded to these steel plates. Below our homes is a crawl space where utilities run and can be easily accessed in the future. The photo below shows our typical foundation system prior to module installation:
If our typical foundation system cannot work on your site due to slope, soil condition, or other reason, a custom foundation system can be designed by the structural engineer. However, our utilities run under the home in the crawlspace, so perimeter stem walls must be part of the foundation design.
Do you design and build landscapes along with the home?
No. However, we are happy to recommend and work with a landscape architect so that the design of decks, hardscape and softscape can be coordinated. This is actually our preferred approach because everything can be envisioned as a unified whole.