October 30, 2018
CHP Homeownership has already rehabilitated three properties in a neighborhood near downtown Blacksburg, Virginia, but for its latest project, the homeownership team has decided to take a different approach.
Since 2017, CHP Homeownership has partnered with town officials on the Blacksburg Affordable Housing Program, which seeks to increase homeownership rates in the Bennett Hill/Progress Street neighborhood. Over the past few decades, this neighborhood has seen a sizeable number of owner-occupied homes convert into student rentals with deferred maintenance needs. At first, CHP Homeownership worked to make repairs to homes in the neighborhood and sell them to qualified buyers, such as first-time homeowner BeaAnn Hypes. But when team members came across a house needing some major repairs to get it to a healthy standard, they decided that it would be better to start from scratch.
“This gave us the opportunity to build a brand-new home utilizing grant funds,” said Jake Powell, Director of CHP Homeownership. “That started a conversation on how we would approach this build and should we think about setting ourselves up for the future.”
In thinking about capacity and future scalability, the team decided to go with a modular build instead of a traditional stick-built house. “This idea of modular really started to come into a clear focus for us,” said Powell. “We can control 80 percent of our budget and timeline. Essentially one project manager could oversee several modular homes. And so, our ability to scale with lower fixed costs was the attractive piece for us.”
In modular building, sections of the house are constructed away from the site, usually in a warehouse. Once the pieces have been finished and the foundation has been set, the pieces are shipped to the intended site and then the home is assembled. CHP Homeownership is working with Southern Heritage Homes located in Rocky Mount, Virginia for this house.
“What got us excited about Southern Heritage was that they produced higher quality, custom modular homes,” remarked Powell. “We didn’t want to sacrifice CHP’s reputation with this shift in strategy. When you are outsourcing a large piece of your build you are essentially letting go of control of it and you have to find the right partner to deliver the right product. That’s what led us to Southern Heritage.”
Michael George, Project Manager and Principal Broker, added, “It was critical to us that we hit a certain standard. Southern Heritage is able to give us what we want as far as some customization around energy efficiency and other areas that are important to CHP.”
Plans are in the works to lay the house’s foundation. Then, the house will be brought in and assembled on-site, and the finishing touches will be put in.