St. Paul has a new modular project on the scene. David Smell is an award winning Duluth architect with homes that can catch more than $1,000,000 or more. But now a St. Paul nonprofit has hired him to design more than a dozen modular, solar-powered houses that are being lifted into place on a redevelopment site in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city in Dayton Bluff, Minesota.
Houses will be priced at less than $250,000. This opens the market to first time homebuyers according to real estate broker, Seanne Thomas of the Twin Cities who caters to entry-level buyers.
"Just because it's affordable doesn't mean it can't be quality," said Thomas, who says buyers have been waiting more than a year for a chance to buy a house in Village on Rivoli, which is among the biggest single-family housing developments in St. Paul in decades.
According to Minneapolis Area Realtors, the median sale price of a house in the Twin Cities has doubled to more than $300,000 and options for first-time buyers are dwindling over the past eight years. In the Twin Cities metro area only 556 houses priced from $190,000 to $250,000 were for sale in February. This is less than half from the year prior.
Gary Findell, a Twin Cities general contractor, is spearheading the push of modular. He wants to reduce the cost of modular houses by building them closer to their construction site. He believes It will help to train a new generation of workers in a modular housing factory. This replaces a vacant warehouse near downtown St. Paul.
Construction costs keep growing. Findell is determined to use modular to keep the costs down. Insulated panels which are insulating foam cores between structural panels can be used for floor, walls and roofs.This should be more energy efficient and less expensive than wood built walls. Lumber costs keep increasing and these walls will be built and assembled in a factory with precise measurements.