From the popular Sears and Roebuck kit homes of the early 20th Century to Amazon’s fully finished shipping container houses, the prefabricated construction trend shows no sign of going out of style. Factory produced modular structures have long had the advantage of being more efficient to build and less expensive than traditional construction, reducing labor costs, material waste and time lost due to bad weather.
Now, imagine ordering a fully customizable light commercial or residential building online and getting it delivered on site, perhaps the very next day, then unfolding it like something out of a pop-up book. Construction startup, Boxabl, a project company of the Las Vegas-based intellectual property and product developer, 500 Group, recently filed for two new patents for a revolutionary building system, a potential game-changer for a booming housing market facing a shortage of construction workers and soaring housing prices.
What makes Boxabl different from other prefabricated building systems is its grid and packing technology, coupled with a unique transportation system. Boxabl‘s buildings, constructed entirely in a factory, fold up into easily transportable units delivered and finished on site. The mass-producible rooms fit together to create homes or commercial structures. They are customizable and available in a variety of popular styles. Take a virtual tour of several styles and see floor plans here at the Boxabl website.
The base unit of a Boxabl structure measures 42′ x 19′, 9″ and weighs 8,000 to 12,000 pounds, depending on the style. All units are laid out on a standard grid pattern, ensuring that doors, windows, and components will always line up whether multiple units are stacked or placed contiguously, end to end or side by side.
As seen in the company’s whitepaper, approximately 60% of a home is empty space. The other 40% consists of permanent fixtures like kitchens, bathrooms, and fireplaces. When these are arranged to run along one outside wall, the other side of the structure is left empty. This allows the walls and floor of the empty side of the building to fold flat against the side containing the fixtures, as seen in this video of a 3D model. The ceiling folds up and back on itself, much like an accordion. The result is a compact unit with no wasted space measuring 42′ x 8′, 6″.
Engineered Beams and Supports
Unlike standard construction, these foldable units consist of sealed composite walls without studs inside of them, allowing for uninterrupted insulation. Pairs of vertical supports are inset between light-weight, horizontal support beams that span the entire length of the walls. Supporting headers above windows and doors are unnecessary. This allows for easily customizable and open floor plans. The horizontal supporting beams also house the necessary wiring and utilities for the building, including HVAC systems.
Being lightweight and relatively small, Boxabl units are easier to handle than traditional prefabricated buildings and can be towed by a pickup truck rather than a semi tractor. To facilitate this, pairs of specially designed wheels bolt to the bottom of the folded unit, at the front and rear. The wheelsets are steerable and towable from either direction. They are also adjustable, raising the unit for transport, lowering it at delivery and able to carry it safely over rough roads that require more clearance. After delivery, multiple wheelsets connect, stack and are easily returned by just one transport vehicle.
Standardized, manufactured buildings, that pack, and ship at a fraction of the cost of current methods have the potential to cause sweeping changes across the construction industry.
Galiano Tiramani, Chief Strategy Officer of Boxabl, recently told Market Insider, “Boxabl will create a dramatic societal shift in housing accessibility by creating something the world has never seen before: true mass production of buildings, in a factory, on a large scale.”
One of the top builders of affordable housing in the United States, The Pacific Companies, is an advisor to Boxabl and hopes to build with the technology within the next five years.