In retrospect, our goal of taking just two days to completely assemble the show home for this week’s Greenbuild Conference and Expo may have been unrealistic. It took us three.
But if we hadn’t run into a glitch with trucking permits that delayed the first delivery of components by several hours, we might actually have achieved our target schedule. Unity and Bensonwood have a long history of stretching to reach ambitious goals. On those occasions when we fall short, the results can still be impressive.
We have known for many years that the key to rapid on-site assembly of complex projects is extensive preparation. This project was no different, but the stakes were higher. If the home we started assembling mid-day on Thursday had not been ready for finishing touches on Monday, there could have been ripple effects with serious consequences for the show home partners, sponsors and visitors.
As with any prototype project, success was not a foregone conclusion. Once the design and the specifications for the home were finalized, Unity’s Virtual Fabrication team developed a digital 3D model that contained all the parts and pieces of the home. The model allowed us to develop details for complex intersections, prevent conflicts between various components, build the panels and pods efficiently, and know that our plan for trucking and assembling the components had a high probability of success. The careful planning and attention to detail paid off during the past few days, as our crew assembled the complete home inside the convention center.
“It wasn’t easy to pull this off,” said job captain John McElroy with visible relief. “But we learned a lot, and the next one will be easier.”
By all accounts the process was remarkable, and the results are beautiful.
Although Unity has no immediate plans for a repeat performance (unless re-assembling the home on a permanent foundation counts), the Greenbuild Unity project clearly demonstrates that highly prefabricated panels can successfully be trucked to distant job sites and assembled very quickly into a completed home. The lessons learned on this project will spur Unity’s ongoing efforts to develop innovative solutions for prefabrication and assembly. Our goal in the years to come is to make the extraordinary — assembling a complete home in three days — ordinary.
Stay tuned to Unity’s website for a link to a virtual tour of the complete Greenbuild Unity Home.