Modular buildings for Renton Housing Authority take shape.

For a little over a year now, Schemata Workshop has been working with Renton Housing Authority (RHA), Shelter Resources, and The City of Renton in the development of 18 units for The Renton Housing Authority.  The entire development of Kirkland Avenue Townhomes incorporates progressive building and environmental strategies that are new to the city and RHA.  On site there are stormwater maintenance strategies putting rain gardens/bioswales in the public right of way. Specific to the topic of this post, modular building strategies are used to create efficiency and regularize the quality of the finished product.

Many misconceptions surround the delivery method of modular building.  Outside the modular building industry people are familiar with Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) or the ubiquitous mobile homes. In contrast, the way we will use modular construction will be completely indistinguishable from site built construction.  Kirkland Avenue Townhomes will be built of a system of fully finished module blocks, about the size of a shipping container, that are replete with all finishes, plumbing, toilets, windows, etc.  These modules are delivered to the site, craned into place, strapped together, and then the roofed in a matter of weeks.  

Building projects modularly has its advantages over site built construction.  The factory environment eliminates outside elements, minimizing rain and water damage, as well as the mold and health issues that can accompany them.   It holds the potential to speed up construction since disparate trades can work concurrently.  For instance, currently on site in Renton, Pavilion Construction, the General Contractor, is finishing up the foundation while Champion Homes, our Modular Subcontractor, is framing and plumbing walls.  This overlap can shorten construction time which not only reduces costs of construction but allows the Renton Housing Authority to place tenants faster. 

Champion Homes has developed a very efficient process in their factory line. The floor of the module moves continuously from bottom left up, when it is craned onto rollers where it moves down the line.  Other elements, such as the walls and the ceiling are framed alongside the line, and craned onto the floor as they are finished.  Many processes are different from standard construction, since there is no concern of weather affecting, or damaging, interior finish materials, work that typically must wait for the building to be dried-in happens concurrently to structural framing.  This not only changes sequencing, but also changes how details are executed.

Follow our upcoming blog posts to see the townhomes under construction at the Champion factory in Weiser, Idaho.