“Could you build a home for me in California?” is one of the more common questions that our sales team hears. In fact, California and Texas are among the top ten states from which Unity receives requests for information.
In principle Unity can build anywhere in the country, as our sister company Bensonwood has for decades. Unity has provided building shell packages for homes as far west as Ohio and Kentucky, and as far south as North Carolina and Virginia. However, as shown on this interactive map of Unity Homes, most of our work has been in the Northeast.
There are a number of factors that determine the feasibility of our building in a particular location, including the distance from our shop, local labor costs, local building codes, and the availability of builders and subs versed in the construction of high performance homes.
Distance from Our Shop The distance from our shop determines trucking costs: the farther away from southwest New Hampshire the site is located, the more expensive trucking will be to deliver Unity’s building components to the site. Since an essential part of Unity’s mission is to lower the cost of high performance homes, the trucking costs associated with distant sites add to that challenge.
Because another cornerstone of Unity’s mission is to decrease the environmental impact of new home construction, the shorter the distance our delivery trucks have to travel, the lower the environmental impact.
Local Labor Costs Another factor affecting the feasibility of building in a given location is local labor costs. In areas where labor costs are relatively high compared to national averages, Unity can be more competitive because we are producing a large percentage of the home in Keene, NH, where wage rates tend to correspond roughly to national averages.
Local Building Codes As Unity expands its geographic range, we have a growing understanding of the impact that local and state building codes have on our projects. States and municipalities have their own requirements for regulating components that are built elsewhere and delivered to sites within their jurisdiction. Some areas present numerous hoops for us to jump through, while others recognize the value of off-site construction, and work to facilitate it.
Local Knowledge and Experience Yet another factor influencing where we build is the availability of contractors and subs who understand and can efficiently execute the complex process of building a high performance home. Unity and Bensonwood have a decades-long track record of building homes that are energy efficient, healthy, comfortable and durable. With team members specializing in the design, engineering and detailing of these homes, we are able to incorporate the latest advancements in technology and building science. In areas where builders may be struggling to keep up with the latest codes—let alone build homes that are high performing and Net Zero, Unity can be an attractive option.
While it’s possible for Unity to build anywhere in the US, a constellation of factors determines the feasibility of our building in a particular location. Our “sweet spot” for building has generally been the Northeast, but we envision a time in the not-to-distant future when Unity has additional production facilities in other parts of the country. This would allow us to realize another element of Unity’s vision: to provide better homes for more people across the United States.