For years, Unity’s clients have benefitted from accelerated construction schedules made possible by our off-site fabrication, which shaves months off of a typical construction schedule. Unity’s overall design-build process can happen in as few as 9 months: 3 months of initial design and planning, 3 months for the design development, off-site fabrication and on-site excavation/foundation work, and 3 months to assemble and finish the home. In contrast, a conventionally built home might take 12 months for just the work on site – not including the design and planning.
Because many factors affect the schedule of a project, developing and managing project schedules is as much an art as a science. Some clients make decisions very quickly, while others prefer to take their time. On some projects, the permitting and approval process requires many months. Other projects don’t even need a building permit. Weather can have a significant impact on site work, the local builder may have competing responsibilities on other projects, and Unity’s own backlog of work affects the schedule.
Unity is able to provide predictability to the project schedule because most of our work is done in the controlled conditions of our production facility. However, when Unity’s backlog of projects grows, then that tends to increase the time between the contract signing and our assembling the shell of the home on site. This happened last summer when Unity received many contracts within a three month period, and our lead time for delivering building shells jumped from 3 months to 5 or even 6. We see this as a temporary situation that we’re addressing in part by hiring more talented people. And our design-build process remains as efficient as ever – a typical Unity Home requires about one week of prefabrication in our shop, and another week to assemble the shell on site.
What does Unity’s current extended lead time mean for our clients? If you think that you’d like to build with us in 2020, then you should secure a building lot if haven’t already, and plan to enter into a Preconstruction Services Agreement (PSA) with us soon. Investigate the permitting process, know your financing options and begin conversations with local builders if one will be involved. Once the design-build process is underway, then it’s important to pay attention to key milestones such as signing the construction contract, because we’re not able to narrow in on a delivery date until that contract has been executed. As always, Unity’s sales team is available to assist with information and advice for moving your project forward.
Unity founder Tedd Benson recently returned from a trip to Sweden where he visited several companies that build high performance homes using methods similar to ours. The lead time reported by those companies from contract signing to assembling the shell on site? Ten months. Apparently it’s understood in Sweden that if you’d like a high performance home, you’ll need to be patient.
We appreciate the patience of our current and future clients as we address our scheduling challenges. And we’re confident that the comfort, health and low operating costs of our homes are well worth the wait!