If Amazon runs out of homes to deliver to, its latest investment could just build some more.
Home design and prefabrication startup Plant Prefab has raised a $6.7 million Series A funding round that included participation from the Amazon Alexa Fund and Obvious Ventures. A large, unnamed multi-billion private equity fund led the round.
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Plant Prefab manufactures custom single and multi-family homes using off-site production, non-toxic and sustainable building materials, and a patented building system
The investment marks Amazon’s first in a home prefabrication company, according to the Rialto, Calif.-based startup. 1
The two-year-old startup will use the money toward some new senior hires and building out its marketing and sales team. Plant Prefab currently has 35 employees. The company also plans to use the funds to further develop its patented plant building system and expand its factory operations.
Plant Prefab claims that its approach to building homes reduces construction time by 50 percent and cost by 10 to 25 percent in major cities, while also minimizing the negative impact on energy, water, resources and indoor air quality.
Plant Prefab Founder and CEO Steve Glenn said that in “housing-crunched” major cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, along with areas like Silicon Valley, it takes too much time to build a home to be able to adequately meet demand.
“Labor shortages, construction delays, and increased construction costs are exacerbating this trend even further — and making homes increasingly less affordable,” he said in a written statement. “Building homes in factories addresses these challenges, particularly as we’re able integrate online technology, new building systems, and automation to dramatically reduce the time and cost necessary to design and build high-quality, custom homes.”
The prices of the homes vary based on the specific project and its requirements, Glenn told Crunchbase News. He said the current range of projects it has completed to date is $152 to $225 per square foot.
“This is the price for the modules from the factory and does not include site costs or transport and install, which we don’t yet do,” he told Crunchbase News. “Complete project budgets range from $275 to more than $500 a square foot. We deliver in half the time of a typical site-based construction process.”
Glenn said that Plant Prefab is addressing the urban home market, unlike most existing prefabrication companies in the US that are focused on building homes for suburban communities.
“By building in an all-weather facility with lower cost and staff labor, we offer clients a more reliable, time and cost-effective alternative to local, urban general contractors,” he added.
In recent months, Plant Prefab has installed 26 units in California and Utah as well as built out a multifamily project in Berkeley. The company has also been helping victims of the 2017 Napa-area wildfires overcome severe contractor shortages due to the wildfire aftermath.
The company was introduced to Amazon by Obvious Ventures during the funding process, according to Glenn.
Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, in a written statement, described Plant Prefab as “a leader in home design and an emerging, innovative player in home manufacturing.”
“We’re thrilled to support them as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers,” he added.
Andrew Beebe, managing director of Obvious Ventures, said his firm believes that Plant Prefab is focused on “dramatically improving efficiencies and environmental responsibility” in the multi-billion dollar market for new homes in the US.
“With increased costs, labor shortages, reduced affordability, and the enormous impact housing has on carbon emissions, there are few challenges more important than creating more accessible, healthy housing,” he added, in a written statement.