A stackable housing product from Seattle-based start-up, Blokable, promises high-quality, affordable housing delivered faster than traditional “stick-built” housing. Fascinated by what people were doing to create homes from shipping containers, Blokable’s founder, Aaron Holm, was inspired to productize this modular method of home construction. Through his experience as an Amazon retail product manager, Holm realized that traditional construction methods were too costly and time consuming, as he stated in this interview from Blokable’s blog.
“The current built environment is an artificial construct. We’ve designed and built our cities in a very top down manner; it’s trickle down housing and as with trickle down economics it doesn’t work for anyone who’s not on top. Our mission is to make housing accessible and affordable for everyone which means we have a lot of work ahead of us and there will always be more to do. Imagine a world where communities can design and build their own housing in weeks rather than years and where smart home technology is for everyone and integrated into the cities and communities where we live.”
What Blokable has developed to address this problem is a modular housing concept that allows stacking of up to five stories high. At the same time, they allow for customization of the units to meet the needs of the community. As such, according to the Seattle Times, pricing ranges from $58 to $85k per unit. Built in Vancouver, Washington with shipping up to 1,000 miles away, the mix and match nature of the units allow the creation of unique communities, while reaping the quality and cost advantages of factory-built construction.
By taking an approach that is analogous to software development where developers and cities have pre-approved building blocks, Holm envisions providing housing to in-fill and underdeveloped lots much faster and cheaper than traditional approaches:
“Imagine a world where a community or a developer buys a plot of land to build a 3 story housing complex. They create the full building layout and get an immediate cost and time estimate for delivery and installation of the project. In a matter of months the project is completed and people and families are moving in. As more housing is needed it can be ordered and delivered. We’ll have to push on regulatory, finance, and land use boundaries to get to a more sustainable way of building but it has already started.”