Modular Homebuilding: A Game Changer
July 2015, The Star Phoenix
About 10 years ago, Marc Bovet decided to renovate a house in Montreal. It didn’t go well.
“What happens is that, even though we planned everything, I ended up in a hotel room with my wife and four kids – the usual story,” the former aerospace executive explained.
Bovet, who said he was used to managing $100-million projects at Bombardier, was frustrated. If he couldn’t manage a simple renovation, he wondered, who could?
“When you ask people, ‘Have you built a house? How did it go?’ People talk about divorce or they’re suing someone,” he said. “There’s always a good story behind it.”
Bovet resolved to write a better story. And, in 2005, he launched BONE Structure.
The Montreal-based company sells a construction system inspired by toys such as Lego and Meccano – modular, prefabricated parts that can be assembled using nothing more than integral clips and a drill.
The first BONE Structure building went up in 2006, but the company didn’t expand beyond Quebec until 2013, Bovet said. Since then, he added, more than 300 units have been built across nine provinces and California.
“Now, only about 25 per cent of our business is in Quebec,” Bovet said. “We’re just starting to scale up.”
Part of that scale-up involves Saskatoon. On Friday, BONE Structure unveiled its first home in the city.
Brady Plett, project manager at Saskatoon-based Aspect Home Builders, led the team that built the city’s first BONE Structure house, a modern-looking 4,687-square-foot structure on Temperance Street.
He said the house, which is structurally complete but lacks drywall and fixtures, was assembled by five workers in about three weeks. He estimates building a similar home with a similar crew could take double that time.
“It’s a huge time savings,”
Plett said, noting that most of the crew had only seen pictures of a BONE Structure house before starting work.
There are other savings, too, according to Bovet. A BONE Stucture home could cost about 10 per cent more than a traditional home of comparable size, but its construction produces less waste, plus it is easy to reconfigure and it could offer savings of up to 90 per cent on heating and cooling costs, he said.
Plett is enthusiastic about the future. He said Aspect Home Builders would like to complete an additional five to 10 BONE Structure houses in Saskatoon this year. Bovet is also optimistic. Business, he said, is booming The BONE Structure system is patented in 42 countries, and the company is currently in talks with 19 countries interested in licensing the system, he said. Bovet also dismissed concerns about adopting unproven technology. Pointing to the speed with which internal combustion engines replaced draught horses, he said BONE Structure could be a “game-changer” in an industry that hasn’t evolved “in forever.”
July 2015, The Star Phoenix | Read the article