Multi-Family Housing: Why Build Modular?

Posted on Oct 2nd, 2015 by Westchester | Posted in: Home Plan Central


Most people think of single-family homes when they think of modular building. Many builders assume modular building styles are only suitable for individual houses. But modular building can be used for much more.


Today, building modular multi-family homes is a popular option. Modular multi-family housing, or prefab multi-family homes, is a great way to build high-quality homes. At the same time, it’s easy to stay on schedule and in budget with modular building.


Just like with single family-residences, you can customize the design of multi-family modular homes to meet your needs, weather you are looking for a townhouse or a multi-unit apartment complex our designs are equally diverse.


Here at Westchester Modular, we work with both developers and Architects to deliver a quality multi-family home or project. We’ll work with you on all aspects of your project consider styles, building materials and specialized add-ons while making sure to we stay within your budget.


Two of our recent projects are very different examples of modular multi-family homes. They exemplify the many approaches developers can take when they work with us.


Cabrini Gardens


Cabrini Gardens is a senior living complex constructed in our modular factory. It consists of 65 senior apartments in two three-story buildings. We designed this building with a full range of accessible features. Extra-wide doorways and hallways accommodate wheelchair users. Grab bars and raised toilet seats help seniors with mobility impairments. And emergency pull cords throughout the complex help alert staff when residents need help.


Affinity Student Housing


Our modular student housing, in Potsdam, New York, takes a different approach. We worked with Affinity Partners to figure out what amenities best suited their student housing. Cottage-style apartments house four to six students. Each building has parking spots behind it. Then we added community rooms, shared kitchens and music practice rooms for residents.


Types of Modular Multi-Family Housing



Over the years, we’ve built a lot of multi-family housing. That means we know different projects have very different needs. Some types of multi-family housing may be more suitable than others. Read on for an introduction to different types of modular multi-family housing.




Townhouses are one of our most popular types of multi-family family housing. Our standard townhouse is a two-bedroom, one-bath house with a ten-year warranty. Builders can customize the layout and size of these townhouses to fit virtually any lot. These two-story homes are desirable for their small footprint and customizable features. One of our recent modular townhouse projects was in Carmel, New York.


Duplexes and Triplexes


Prefabricated duplexes and triplexes are popular choices for student housing. Our duplexes and triplexes are high-quality houses with a variety of layouts. They stand out for their durability and quality. Many of our units survived Hurricane Sandy when other modular housing didn’t. That’s why many builders chose our duplexes to replace damaged housing after the hurricane. The student housing we built for Affinity Partners in Potsdam, New York, used this style.




Modular apartments are an excellent option for developers looking to speed up construction. We speed up the construction process by building units in a factory, then placing them on site. Like with other types of multi-family housing, we can design apartments that match your needs. One of our recent projects is a mixed-use apartment building in Washington Township, New Jersey. This four-story apartment building has a vibrant retail district on its ground floor.


Group Homes


Modular building is a great option for group homes like dormitories and senior living facilities. Many project managers for group homes need to choose between staying on budget and energy efficiency. Modular building can help you have both.


When you work with Westchester Modular, we can certify your group home as Energy Star-compliant in the factory. This saves you money up front and down the road. We can also include features like ramps and extra-wide doors for wheelchair accessibility. Westchester Modular is currently building modular dormitories, hotels and senior living facilities.


Workforce Housing


Many large companies find there’s a shortage of affordable housing for their workforce. For these employers, modular workforce housing is an economic way to build new communities. Like other types of multi-family housing we build, we customize workforce housing for each employer. We then build units in our factory in Wingdale, New York, before placing them on site.


How Westchester Modular Uses Multi-Family Housing Trends


Today’s renters are different. Many choose apartment living because it offers them a low-maintenance urban lifestyle. They’re not looking to upgrade to a house in the city. But they are looking for an apartment that fits their needs.


Because many people today are renters by choice, we keep up to date with the latest trends in multi-family housing. We think multi-family housing should match today’s tenants’ needs and wants.


Here are three important trends we’ve been incorporating into our multi-family housing designs.


Trend One: Tenants Seek Out an Urban Lifestyle


Both Millennials and empty nesters often choose apartment living over single-family homes. These groups love the low-maintenance lifestyle that comes with apartment life. Instead of taking care of a home, they can enjoy the city.


That means both groups are also looking for a vibrant community. They’ve embraced the idea of a “live-work-play” experience. That means it is easy to access all of the following in one place:


  • Shops
  • Work
  • Entertainment


In buildings that aren’t explicitly urban, many tenants want more community space. Areas for outside barbecues or dog parks can make a building more desirable.


Many developers want to build apartments for these groups. We work with you to design and add spaces for work and entertainment throughout the building.


Some developers incorporate even more of the urban lifestyle. Mixed-use apartments combine retail and rental units in a single building. This style is one of the best examples of how multi-family housing can attract tenants looking for an urban experience.


Midtown Apartments in Washington Township, New Jersey, used just this concept. We worked with the developer to design a ground-floor retail experience, topped by apartments. Then we built apartment units in our factory and assembled them on site in Washington Township.


Trend Two: Renters Want More Amenities


In the past, multi-family housing projects focused on indoor spaces. Builders reserved luxurious features for inside individual units. Community spaces were minimal. They were also rarely used.


Many tenants today want a feeling of community. That’s why they seek out an urban lifestyle. These renters are looking for community experiences, not just community spaces.



Popular amenities include:


  • Parking spaces for car sharing services
  • Lockers for package storage
  • Bike repair and storage areas
  • Business center
  • Childcare services


Many developers now include community spaces for events and classes. In some apartments, a shop offers wine tastings. Many fitness centers offer wellness or yoga classes.


Tech-friendly amenities are also becoming more popular. With the growth of online shopping, many people want easy to access locker storage for packages. More tenants are looking for home automation like smart thermostats and wireless lighting controls.


Trend 3: Tenants Are Looking for Green Buildings


Many tenants are looking for eco-friendly buildings. Some renters like the lower utility bills that come with living in a green unit. Others seek out green buildings because of environmental concerns. These tenants are willing to pay a premium to live in a green building.


You can certify your Westchester Modular apartments as green buildings. We work with Energy Star certification, one of the most rigorous green certifications available. An Energy Star certified house has up to 30 percent lower energy usage than an average home.


This is how Energy Star certification helps you stand out:



Westchester Modular has a streamlined green certification process. Most Energy Star certifications need a third-party rater to do a site inspection. We’ve eliminated this step for you. Westchester Modular buildings can be certified as Energy Star compliant in our factory.


This means you won’t need to schedule extra site inspections, and there’s no need for costly renovations. This streamlined process helps builders save time and money. It also lets them take advantage of the benefits of green building.


Other Ways Building Modular Can Help Multi-Family Developers


All of these features are a lot to ask on a budget. That’s why some of the greatest benefits of modular for multi-family housing occur behind the scenes.


Building modular, or prefab, multi-family houses can save developers both time and money. That means that you can include more of the features that appeal to tenants while staying in budget.


Building Modular Cuts Down on Construction Time


Project scheduling is one of the biggest concerns for developers. Coordinating subcontractors and construction supplies is difficult. Add in delays for bad weather, and it’s easy to have idle time on the construction site.


These delays cost money. Modular home building can help you save time by speeding up the construction process. We do that by developing units in the factory at the same time we prepare the site. Studies have shown it takes about half the time to construct a modular house as building from the ground up.


Our factory-based construction system means we can build units faster. While we paint one module, we can hang drywall in a second unit. With traditional construction, we can’t do these tasks at the same time. That means workers for one job don’t need to sit around while the first crew finishes.


We’re also able to order and cut large amounts of building supplies. Because we work on many projects, we can use extra materials elsewhere. That means there won’t be delays while we wait for materials to arrive on-site.


Finally, bad weather is not an issue when building modular. In fact, weather only affects the construction process during building placement. We assemble modular units in our climate-controlled factory. That means bad weather won’t delay construction.


Save Money by Building Modular


Modular homes save money as well as time. When you’re building multi-family housing, these savings can add up. Most modular homes cost 10 to 20 percent less than similar, stick-built homes.


Building modular generally saves money in two ways: reduced material costs and lower labor costs. Most multi-family developers already realize savings from bulk purchasing. Modular building can further reduce the cost of materials.


Builders often order materials for a single project, plus extra in case some get damaged. Storing and moving lumber scraps is expensive. That means once you cut materials to the lengths needed, the rest is scrapped.


That’s not true for modular homes. Because we build our projects in one factory, we’re able to order materials for several projects at once. If we don’t use lumber for one project, we’re often able to use it for another project. Then we pass the cost savings on to you.


Westchester Modular also has strict cost-saving measures we use to keep projects in budget. That way we can save you money without cutting corners on quality.


Modular homes also mean less construction waste. This means you have lower disposal costs. There are also environmental benefits to less construction waste. You’ll qualify for green certifications more easily and increase your building’s appeal for tenants.


You can also save money by reducing your labor costs. Poor scheduling and weather mean longer construction times, but they also mean idle workers. You’ll cut these costs with modular building.


Cut Down on Community Impact With Modular Building


Stick-built construction is time consuming. While you’re building, you’ll have to worry about dust, dirt and construction noise. In some communities, you’ll need to alert neighbors about construction activity.


If you’re adding on to an existing complex, construction can also make the building less desirable. You may have to deal with tenant complaints. It can also be harder to lease existing apartments when there’s nearby construction.


Modular building can help avoid disturbing existing tenants and traffic. Many projects are nearly completed by the time they’re moved to the site. In our Midtown apartment building, for example, on-site construction took just a few weeks.


If you’d like to find out about how modular building can help you with your multi-family project, contact Westchester Modular today.

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