Unity is known for building homes unusually quickly, but the show home that’s being featured at this year’s Greenbuild Conference and Trade Show in Washington D.C. will set a new bar for speed. Our ambitious plan is to assemble the prefabricated components of this home over the course of two days inside the trade show hall. The completed home will then be open for tours during the conference.
“The biggest challenge with an extremely compressed schedule like this is to maintain Unity’s high level of quality,” says company founder Tedd Benson. To successfully meet this challenge, the Unity team is drawing on a long heritage of precision prefabrication and “blitz builds.”
With a construction schedule this tight, there’s no room for errors or omissions. Experienced carpenters know that mistakes can be minimized by adhering to the adage “measure twice and cut once.” At Unity, we put a different spin on that saying. We say “build twice: first virtually, and then in reality.”
Our virtual fabrication team — in collaboration with designers and engineers upstream, and our production team downstream — created a 3D computer model that contains every part and piece in the finished home, right down to the last nail. This 3D model has been exported to our computerized (CNC) production machinery that is pre-cutting the building’s individual components to tolerances that are virtually impossible to achieve reliably when building on site. We are now assembling these many components into the larger pre-fabricated elements of the home.
Our priority in finalizing the model and beginning construction has been completing the bathroom and kitchen pods, because these are the two most labor-intensive elements of the home. The two pods have been framed in our pod shop, and wiring, plumbing, fixtures and finishes are now being installed. Meanwhile back in our virtual fabrication department, the rest of the building components, including the floor systems, exterior walls and roof panels, are being readied for production. This parallel processing, which is not possible with conventional construction, is a key to Unity’s construction speed.
At the Greenbuild trade show hall in mid-November, the finished home will be assembled from these pre-fabricated elements in a process we call “montage,” and, we hope, attendees will call “pretty amazing.”
Stay tuned for continued updates on the construction process of the Greenbuild Unity Home.