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PATH Case Study

Going Green:

Modular Builder Finds His Niche

Printable Version [.pdf, 315 KB]

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David Bennert
Innova Homes
Asheville, North Carolina

Builder Type:

Small Modular Homebuilder

The Technology:

Modular Construction

The Project:

A 2,400-square-foot modular home certified by the North Carolina HealthyBuilt Homes program.

David Bennert is a modular builder who wanted to create a niche market by building green modular homes--homes that are energy efficient, resource efficient, and healthy to live in. To get a stamp of approval that would resonate with customers, he decided to build a modular spec home that would be certified by the North Carolina HealthyBuilt Home green building standard.

"It was an experiment that was very successful. It has given us a huge amount of exposure, and a niche market, which is where we want to be."

-- David Bennert


BENNERT'S STORY Modular homes are built in a factory and trucked to the job site, where the different modules are fastened to the foundation and each other.

David Bennert builds only modular homes for a variety of reasons, the greatest being quality control. "The homes are consistent, better sealed, less prone to mold since they're constructed in a dry environment with well-stored and well-maintained materials, and they generate less construction waste," says Bennert.

"With modular construction we can do a project in a few months, so cash flow is more manageable and financing costs are reduced. Most stick-built homes take six months to a year. A simple home made from two modular pieces can be done in 30-45 days, and a cape cod in 45-90. In addition, most of the construction--the factory part--is completed at a fixed price, which leaves less room for error in costing."

"From a green perspective, modular homes offer great advantages over conventional stick building, and help when you go for a green certification like North Carolina HealthyBuilt Homes. In all, the modular process takes care of about half a dozen points toward certification, which put us ahead of the curve compared to a site builder."

"It was a bit of an experiment to go for the certification. We didn't know how much going green would cost us; we didn't know which green items would be easiest to implement; we didn't understand what the documentation requirements would ultimately be for the certification. So we documented heavily, talked with manufacturers and energy specialists, and attended trainings on green building. The result was not just a green project; we also developed a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to build green that will help us for any project in the future."

"It's probably easier to go green with a modular home than a site-built home because some things are already taken care of by the modular manufacturer," says Bennert.

The house included a tree preservation plan and xeriscaping; low-flow fixtures; HVAC zoning; airtight construction; insulation 20 percent above code; low-e windows; ENERGY STAR qualified appliances; fluorescent lighting; low-VOC carpet, paints and finishes; and construction waste recycling.

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David Bennert

David Bennert co-founded Innova Homes in 2003, a small company that specializes in modular homes. Innova builds about six homes a year ranging in price from $150,000 to $400,000.

Why build modular?

"There has been a tremendous rise in consumer interest in modular homes because they are generally less expensive and more environmentally friendly than stick-built homes."

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Content updated on 9/13/2006

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