$6.5-m prefab house to address Jamaica’s low-income housing demand Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

A prefabricated modular home that is expected to go a far way in addressing the housing challenges of lower- to middle-income earners is now available in Jamaica.

The two-bedroom, 420-square-foot modular home is priced at about $6.5 million before the installation of utilities such as water, electricity and sewage, according to DM Equipment Company and Smart Haves Distributors Ltd, which have partnered to sell and assemble the units in Jamaica.

The partners say the Prefab-X SPD Modular Home can be assembled in only two days and is sturdy enough to withstand the effects of a category four hurricane. 

Joshelle Campbell, project manager at DM Equipment, noted that with the increasing challenges faced by many low-income to middle-income persons, as well as the increase in demand for standalone Airbnb properties, the modular home is an ideal solution. 

“Our units also offer developers the ability to leverage the ease of quickly erecting living structures by having them assembled and ready for occupancy within a minimum of 48 hours,” Campbell stated at a “First Look” event for the modular home in Kingston on Tuesday.

The display unit on the premises of DM Equipment consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom with double-glazed French windows, a kitchen, and an open living and dining space.

The company will also be providing the foldable units in one-bedroom and three-bedroom varieties.

DM Equipment is an affiliated company of Zoukie Trucking Services Ltd. 

Campbell said the modular homes have been successfully deployed in France, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Australia, parts of Latin America, and Papua New Guinea.

She said, too, that the units, which are made of new materials only and are not refurbished, have a lifespan of 50 years.

Courtney Wynter, general manager of Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB), in his remarks, noted that Jamaica is falling short in providing the 15,000 to 20,000 housing units needed per year.

He challenged developers to look at the lower end of the market because of the effective demand there.

“While everyone wants to build in the Kingston 6, 7, 8, and 10 areas, but the real effective demand is really in the low-income area,” Wynter said.

The JMB general manager said the government had a target of building 70,000 houses in five years at a cost of about $450 billion, leaving a gap of about $300 billion.

“I am suggesting that the time is right for investors and developers to think about low-income housing, because given the economic conditions affecting the housing market today, we are seeing a softness in the higher segment of the market.

“When we look at the numbers, what we’re seeing is that even with low-income housing, a developer can earn 17 to 21 per cent return on investment. There is probably no other segment or sector in Jamaica that will give you that kind of return,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Andrew James, chairman of the Real Estate Board and Commission of Strata Corporation, in endorsing the modular home, invited landowners to consider erecting the units on their property, thus avoiding the challenges of constructing using traditional methods.

“You can subdivide that land and instead of waiting for six months and having all kinds of problems with contractors and workmen, in two days you can get your two-bedroom house.

“This is what we call a solution,” an enthusiastic James said.

According to the website modularhomes.com, modular homes represent about 1.5 per cent of all single family homes in the United States, but this number is said to be growing.