ZETA Design + Build Modular Homes

ZETA Design + Build produce modular homes and buildings inside a factory. A great video on their website is probably the best way to see just how they’re revolutionising the manufacturing process of buildings and building modules.

Howard Koenig, Chief Executive Officer ZETA Design + Build

Howard Koenig
Howard Koenig, CEO of ZETA Design + Build has brought his experience from ‘SaaS’ and tech start-ups into the building sector

It’s telling that Howard Koenig, CEO of ZETA Design + Build, is not originally from the building sector. Howard’s expertise are from tech start ups and ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaaS) industries. The type of innovative thinking and leadership required to succeed in these roles have probably placed Howard in a good position to revolutionise the home building industry.

Quicker, Better & Cheaper?

In a previous discussion on Prefab with Pam Bell of PrefabNZ, I questioned whether it was truly possible for quality, speed and low cost to all be part of the promise of prefab. Does this not contravene the paradigm of project management?

Well, perhaps breaking a few building and construction paradigms is well overdue. It certainly seems to me that this type of prefabrication can and does offer higher quality homes, produced faster and potentially for less cost.

Energy Efficiency and Airtightness

Constructing a house or a module inside a well lit, dry factory where there’s no wind and rain offers much better conditions for getting the all important details right. We didn’t go into full detail during this interview, but the fact that ZETA are capable of producing zero energy homes, would suggest that they take full advantage of these beneficial conditions. It would certainly make a blower-door test pretty easy, though I’d probably want this to be redone once my house was on site to check everything was still airtight after transport.

ZETA Design + Build Townhouses

Limitations of Prefab Modular Design and Building

Howard acknowledged that land transport is a key limitation of the reach of an individual factory. Modules cannot be larger than whatever is allowed on the road or on rails. But like manufacturing of any product, there are ways of increasing market reach, such as setting up more factories or licensing production to other operation.

Is Modular Building Coming to a Town Near You?

What would it take to set up a ZETA – style factory in Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne, Manchester…? Perhaps something already exists. (I’d love to know about it if it does!) I’ve certainly heard more and more people talk about modular design and building for the critical housing shortages in Auckland and Christchurch.

ZETA Design + Build Townhouses

I hope this introduction to ZETA Design + Build is inspiring and demonstrates what’s possible as a new, and better way of doing things.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you’d want to live in a warm, dry, comfortable module that could be delivered to site in a matter of weeks.

Recommended Reading

Howard recommended anything by Michelle Kaufmann. Her book PreFab Green would be a great place to start.

  • Elrond Burrell

    Great interview Matthew and thanks for the shout out. Howard Koenig came across as a very knowledgeable and inspiring CEO. More and more I hear that the companies that succeed in delivering factory produced houses (and buildings) are those run by savvy business people rather than Architects! That’s not to say architects can’t succeed in this field, but that they need to think and operate from a broader business point of view than strictly a design point of view.

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  • In Western Canada, we have been doing Modular and Prefab since I was born, and it has supplied housing and commercial space for millions of people.

    This is how I was sidetracked into the industry building, designing and owning my own companies. Times are a bit different now because of what was learned over this time and there are clear directions we must travel.

    Climate Change disasters will be the largest consumer of these products, just the volume that will be required to house and replace the continuing disasters that produce these opportunities. The units must be produced to different standards just because insurance companies will not cover the costs as in the past.

    One of my ideas for prefab Modular, suitable for sustainable disaster replacement structures.

    • mcutlerwelsh

      Ergodesk, I wondered about this sort of thing, or small shipping containers as an emergency solution for Vanuatu recently

  • Scott Jones

    We have started building modular houses in upper Hutt Wellington nz.and have steadily grown .a tight couple of starting years but getting i t right .moving to two story homes thus week!!.matrix homes