over the coming decades, Downtown Denver’s population likely to double. But this is not the only place where growth occurs. The city also extends to the sunflower fields of the Eastern Plains, past Peña Street, near Tower Road.
There, new homes fill the widening gap between the rest of the city and the airport, in some of the last huge open spaces within the Denver boundaries.
This kind of extension evokes images of the thin, ’90s chipboard masonry panels on plush pieces. But this is not entirely true. The pieces are smaller than they were at the time, and fit more homes in a compact space.
The new neighborhoods include a mix of condos and apartments, large multi-storey homes for large families, and tiny townhouses and stand-alone homes packed into very small spaces.
Oakwood Homes developer Pat Hamill has a new line, On2 Homes, experimenting with how to create naturally affordable homes.
Motto: “A new kind of home. A new way to build.”
Here is the company’s promise on its website:On 2 Homes He is here to disrupt the status quo and build something stronger that suits us better.”
On2 combines two-storey, factory-built, one-family homes into an efficient process that makes Henry Ford proud. Currently, the first few homes in the line are being built at Green Valley Ranch.
These are not interesting architectural masterpieces. But it’s also a step up in design from trailers. And while these so-called “modular homes” have a cookie-cutter feel on the outside, the interiors are wide open, lovely places to live.
Instead of building what the company thinks people want and hope to come up with, On2 hosted focus groups to learn what works with the first few builds – and what isn’t.
There is no doubt that homes are manufactured quickly and treated as group products – but it is the customization that makes these homes special.
Their design process is very science fiction.
When people think about buying one, they put on VR goggles to walk around a house that doesn’t exist and choose the rooms and how they will be placed. On the same day, buyers can sign a contract. And in a few months, their house will be built.
So far, only one of these homes is occupied, and the idea is still at an early stage.
But if a company can strike a balance between affordability and quality and not produce an acre of lemon in one size fits all, Oakwood Homes They will take advantage of a market underserved by builders: people who work in Denver and don’t have easy jobs but want a home of their own. Teachers, sanitation workers, bartenders, accountants, construction workers, grocery clerks, and their families will benefit from equality by owning a home or apartment as well.
These On2 homes are designed for first time home buyers. They sell for half the median home price, which was $620,000 in metro Denver in August. If the company’s predictions are correct, the people who own these factory-built homes will receive equity like any other homeowner.
This is important to ON2 CFO Jordyn Crum.
Crum’s father’s family has lived in Globeville for decades. Their mother lived in Montebello. These days, many of their relatives can’t afford Denver.
Displacement is a sad reality for Crum, who spent some of his virtually homeless teens and adult years making his way into the home building industry often focused on building homes, condos, and condos for the wealthy.
“I’ve seen how incredibly important home ownership is,” Crum said. “It affected my friendships. It affected my physical health, my mental health. This is a very important thing. And we see the rental rates now. They are going through the roof.”
As Croom has worked his way through the industry over the past decade, working in nearly every role in Oakwood, they have watched their families abandon Denver as rental and housing prices soar. Some aunts and uncles were pushed to the last place they could find: the Missouri countryside.
When Croom was studying home building at the University of Denver, they imagined spending their adult years sticking with greedy developers. But soon they decided to work on innovative construction projects that reduce costs for everyday residents. They said it would be more helpful and effective in addressing the plight of people who want to live here but cannot afford it.
Crum admitted that the idea of building homes in factories puts many people off. The company is working to change public perceptions of so-called ‘modular housing’.
Many people think factory-made homes look cheap, sloppy, and fall short of hand-built homes, Crum said. But a walk into an On2 Homes property tells a different story.
While the exteriors of all of these homes have a monotonous aesthetic, the insides of these are spacious and filled with natural light and comfortable amenities.
And factory building may actually lead to sturdier homes, Crum said.
“What’s a little funny about that is that, from a technical and academic point of view, it would be an excellent way to build,” they said. “You build it in a factory where the temperature is always 72 degrees and sunny. You don’t have exposure to the weather elements over nine months of construction. It’s all precision cut. They use the latest and greatest manufacturing technology to be able to help build this house. In theory, It’s actually built tighter, better, and stronger.”
The team at On2 takes pride in the diversity of its employees, which tells who the company is building for: people who don’t fit the nuclear family mold.
“I think this is unique in the industry,” Crum said. “On2 is basically female. And I’m not a bi person. I have a non-traditional family. We got into that thought process, which I think is a bit rare in homebuilding today.”
While there is a stigma to contend with, Krum believes they will acquire stock, like any other home in the area, over time.
Ultimately, On2 modular homes can serve as a national model for how the market ensures different categories of buyers can own and invest in homes, even in a housing crisis.
However, the true test of these properties’ value, durability and fairness will take decades to determine.
On2 has 96 home locations at the Green Valley Ranch and is in talks with state and local politicians, and other municipalities, about expanding the model statewide.
Ultimately, the company hopes to reduce the time it takes to build a home.
“We don’t want to offer anything less than what we consider to be our highest quality,” Crum said. “So in this learning process, it’s a little bit longer. But we have the potential, once we really start swinging things, to be able to get someone under contract and 60 days later to have a completely new home.”