Do-It-Yourself Modular Home Construction System

well we're in Troy New York visiting the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where a new type of house has been developed it's called the house erector system and we're going to meet with Professor Walter kroner the man behind this concept as well as with Jean Starck Martin the project director how are you hi ru good to see you good to see you oh yeah seeing you so this is it behind us here okay how big is this house 1,300 square foot well they're half stories 1,300 square foot one and a half and I'm dying to see it because the concept here is very very interesting can we take closer look sure Walter what was your goal in creating this home erector system we wanted to make homeownership a possibility for people who can't afford your standard housing product that's on the market now what's the entry level here in the Troy area eighty nine thousand dollars plus the land cost and what about this this is forty nine thousand dollars same size materials and equipment you provide all the labor and it's designed to do that so it's a real do-it-yourselfers idea yes now Jean how did you build it what's the foundation system well we used a pure foundation system which you see here we dug the piers about four and a half feet deep because of the frost line we made them two feet wide because what the do-it-yourselfer we want to make sure that there's a lot of room for error so that even if you once you've poured your foundation when you want to put the columns on if you're little bit off it's okay and then after it's hardened then you drill your hole in the concrete and you set your bolt and set up your call and you have it that's how you anchor it down now you could have a standard foundation or you could have a full basement or a slab or anything absolutely what this allows us to do is gonna keep it as cheap as possible and it also allows us to work on sites that might be sloping structurally you've got a post and beam system right yeah I see and what's the size of the grid the size of the grid is 12 foot by 12 foot and that's so that gives you this kind of thing so that's you now have a 12 by 12 frame with a big hole in the center right what you have to do is fill that in to create a platform to work on and how do you do that okay what you have first of all you have this platform that has a ledger on it on both sides and that ledger sits on this piece which is part of the beam aha okay so what happens is this is we have our column we have a very special connector there's only two connectors in the whole house so this is a custom steel piece of custom steel piece bolts together the beam simply sits on top here okay when that is on this platform sits on this if you saw this yeah so that essentially drops in air carries them like this and there's three of those in a 12 by 12 module and you just drop them in you put three four by fours on top and they're very lightweight because you're using the the I beams or whatever these are the would trust choice trusts choice and two people can move these things around easily that's the whole idea of the whole system we want to be able so two people or three people maximum can do the work very simple to what about the mechanicals involved in the house there's a lot of innovations there what we have here Bob is an special 8 foot by 12 foot module okay that covers your entry and your mechanical roof okay in the mechanical room you have three systems the heating system mm-hmm it's your gas regular gas hot air furnace standard furnaces the electrical system is essentially cables that come from the ceiling up in here all you have to do is the consumer has to do is plug in so it's like extension cords exactly it's a that's what it is it's extension cord ah the plumbing you have a manifold here yes where each unit bathtub toilet sink has its own hot water line and own cold water line and that just screws on just like your water's like a garden hose exactly so that the consumer gets the kit and they're really assembling everything themselves without having to call in a tradesman that's correct and what we've done is we separated this structure from this mechanical system so you have your electrical and your plumbing in that nothing runs through structural members you don't have any pipes or cables going through a post or a beam no what we've done is we have a central spine system like this and we put a drop ceiling in at eight feet and as you can see you have all your electrical cabling units and your ducts running through there and this we're in the kitchen which is a 12 by 12 exactly then dining is 12 by 12 living is 12 by 12 so you got an open double cube exactly then you have the bedroom in the back which is another 12 by 12 and the bath is in here and there and this is the bathroom plug so if you want to electrify the bathroom we just take this plug put it in here wall out the light is on and then you have a similar appliance where you have an outlet a switch in the light this is all one strip that all want you to those things in bugs through the wall and it's pre-wired and all you have to do is plug it in yeah getting back to this erector concept you're really putting all the pieces together what about interior partitions we have a non structural furniture wall system involved and there's three pink pieces between the two columns one is a door unit the integral door yeah and these panels you can see that the door unit six inches wide and then we have two units right here they're 12 inches wide each weight these are separate items from your partition exactly so this is like a what is this it's a furniture wall system is what we call it you can turn it your wall furniture and you can take this and move it anywhere else in the house you'd like so now this one 12-inch unit we can use as a bookshelf or you can take two of them put on together we have hardware and now you have a closet and it's a closet that's clever oh now here we can see the structure it's cut out yeah the only thing that's added here Bob is your ceiling in other words here's your 4 by 12 the ceiling which is the white item appears simply plywood there and you take drywall mud water it down so you can roll it on and paint it or you can just leave it painted right that's correct and the exterior walls exterior wall is a reskin paneled wall okay I'll catch you have you have an insulated core that's about an hour 26 on this side which is the outside in this case you have texture one Inlet but it could be any kind of any kind of siding and on the inside the drywall is already attached sure sure and the floor good the flooring you can see right here we have a laminated hardwood floor here's a piece of it there's three courses that run along and your pieces tongue-in-groove and we put a little foam underneath it put this right on topical floats right on the floor amazing is you leave so many different trades out of the equation and you really do empower the homeowner that's it and you've got a backyard deck uh-huh yes we do some tells me this is a 12 by 12 foot deck absolutely it's the same structural system and you can close it if you choose or leave it like this so you could just turn it into another room well basically you have to change the flooring structure but other than that yes marvelous Walter when is this going to be available in a couple of years this is a prototype we now have to do some redesigning and improving and create some options so in a couple of years

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