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Modular Construction for Affordable Housing – Challenge the Conventional!

There is a critical need for affordable housing across Canada. Ontario is no different from many other provinces, with ONPHA and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (Ontario Region) estimating that 69,000 affordable rental homes and 30,000 supportive homes are needed over the next 10 years.

NRB Inc. and our parent company, Horizon North, are innovative industry leaders and experienced modular builders for a variety of industries, including affordable housing.

A Success Story – British Columbia

Modular technology has changed the landscape of affordable housing in British Columbia with its ability to meet rapid response needs. Over the past two years, the Government of British Columbia has committed significant funds and partnered with not-for-profit providers to solve the province’s housing crisis – a crisis that bears resemblance to the circumstances in several areas of Ontario. NRB and Horizon North have made important contributions in BC, building dozens of projects across the affordable housing continuum that are providing more than 1,400 homes to individuals and families in need.

Design, Permanence and Performance… Without Compromise

Modular construction is an alternative project delivery process that produces the same end result as conventional construction when it comes to architectural features, finishes, and operational requirements. However, it also offers inherently faster timelines, better quality, and more cost certainty. When complete, a modular project is virtually indistinguishable from a comparable site-build project. Some examples from our own portfolio include:

Supportive Housing
Affordable Apartments and Townhomes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Residences
Hostel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early Engagement – Explore the Possibilities

The best way to leverage all of the design possibilities of modular construction is to decide to use the method early in your process – not as an afterthought. If you are already well down the design development path conventionally, finding the most effective modular solution at that late stage will require backtracking.

When contemplated from the beginning of a project, modular construction is a methodology that can achieve the overall vision, permanence and performance demanded by any architect or owner. While the final building outcome is the same as a conventional build, the process to get there is somewhat different. Understanding these distinctions will guarantee project success, so collaboration is key. Bringing in the right modular building partner early to assist with design will help the team navigate effectively through the design and process differences.

The Benefits of Modular for Affordable Housing

In addition to the ability to provide a wide variety of designs, the benefits of choosing modular over a site-built alternative lend themselves perfectly to affordable housing applications:

  • Reduced construction timelines: Manufacturing the modules off-site while foundational work occurs concurrently allows the construction timeframe to be reduced by up to 50 percent, providing an efficient response to the critical need for affordable housing.
  • Cost and schedule certainty: Reducing, if not eliminating, the opportunities for untimely delays caused by weather, site damage, or lack of trade availability creates certainty of budget and project scheduling for housing providers.
  • Quality management: Quality management is a process that occurs on every project fabricated at the manufacturing facility and extends to on-site completion. Because the building is created in a controlled environment using Lean practices and stringent assurance and control programs, the modular building can meet exacting quality standards. Remember – being affordable does not mean compromising quality.
  • Sustainability: Waste is significantly reduced, from about 30 percent on a typical construction site to 2 to 3 percent in the manufacturing setting. The on-site footprint is also significantly reduced, with less noise, dust and traffic over a shorter period of time, making modular a better neighbour to those in the community.

Modular construction can play a key role in addressing community needs across Ontario and Canada. With the growing conversation and interest in affordable housing, we see an opportunity for the vision of every Canadian having a safe place to call home to become a reality.