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PHOTOS: Inside modular construction, a potential boon for housing affordability

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They’re not mobile homes, but they did arrive on truck beds, already assembled and nearly move-in ready. Cecil Phillips, CEO of Place Properties, says volumetric modular construction is the way of the future and a technique that could produce more affordable housing in Atlanta and beyond. 

Phillips likes to say, “If the markets could build affordable housing, they would, but they can’t, and so they don’t.” The system his firm uses relies on assembly-line construction, circumventing conventional — and rising — construction costs and earning the state’s rubber-stamp so they’re up to code in any jurisdiction.

A Place Properties home being dropped onto a foundation in English Avenue.
(Credit: Lydia Mayfield Photography)

On Thursday, Phillips took Atlanta Civic Circle on a tour of a couple of his company’s products single-family homes plopped down by cranes on the city’s Westside. 

The first, delivered by a single truck, is located on Sunset Avenue and spans just over 700 square feet. It’s one of Place Properties’ accessory dwelling unit (ADU) options, the kind of small home that could share a parcel with another house — especially if Atlanta’s ongoing zoning code revamp one day makes ADUs more welcome around the city, as planning department czar Tim Keane expects it will. 

If the Sunset Avenue home were on the market today, it could fetch between $125,000 and $130,000, Phillips said. And with mortgage buy-down assistance programs from Invest Atlanta and Atlanta Housing, that could take the price down to $90,000 or $95,000, he added. 

And inside, you’d have no way of knowing this wasn’t just another house built by a crew on-site. Take a gander: 

The next home we visited, sited on James P. Brawley Drive, arrived on two trucks and was patched together at the property. Still, you wouldn’t know if no one told you. 

The house, which took just a few days to fix to the foundation, link to the utilities and essentially sew together, sprawls out a little more than 1,800 square feet, featuring three bedrooms and two bathrooms. 

On today’s market, it might bring in $205,000, maybe $210,000, Phillips estimates, noting the assistance programs might pull that price tag down to the neighborhood of $170,000.

Do these look like places you’d live in? Let us know in the comments.

(Photos by Sean Keenan, unless otherwise noted)

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