This prefab home maker run by a former Apple exec creates modular family homes for up to nearly $1 million – see how

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes.

  • California-based Connect Homes specializes in prefabricated houses.
  • The homes can accommodate families in urban, suburban, and countryside locations.
  • Greg Leung, CEO of Connect Homes and a former Apple executive, explains how the company works.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

What do Apple, Tesla, and prefab homes have in common? Apparently, a lot if you’re prefab home maker Connect Homes. 

California-based Connect Homes specializes in prefabricated houses. While this isn’t a new concept, prefabrication is increasingly being considered a potential solution to our housing crisis.

Currently, prefabs can be seen across the spectrum, from homes that can accommodate families to shelters for unhoused people. And recently, several prefab makers – including Plant Prefab, Pallet, Dvele – have seen a boost in public interest and sales.

But unlike other prefab modular home makers, Connect Homes builds its units the same way Apple creates its phones and Tesla manufactures its vehicles: by “understanding every stakeholder and every piece along the journey,” Greg Leung, Connect Homes’ CEO, told Insider.

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Connect Homes’ Connect 8 model.

Leung, who has been Connect Homes’ CEO for about half a year, previously spent 12 years at Apple overseeing its global supply chain planning and management. Despite the obvious differences between Apple and Connect Homes, Leung says his experience at the tech giant – and a previous smart home tech startup – has lent itself to turning Connect Homes and the prefab home industry into one that can more frequently produce higher quality houses while using less time and money.

“Imagine you were to approach building a house the way Apple would approach building a product … from an end-to-end standpoint,” Leung explained. “By thinking about it from that standpoint, you’re able to optimize and make decisions that allow the entire thing to work seamlessly for the end consumer, and for [the process] to actually run efficiently and effectively.”

For prefab homes makers, this execution could be the difference between being a niche home builder or a “game-changer” that could replace “traditional construction in many use cases,” Leung said.

And for Connect Homes, the goal is to become a key national home builder.

“Prefab has been around for decades, and it has overpromised and under-delivered because prefab in and of itself is not the answer, it’s a technique that’s used to address the problem [of our housing crisis],” Leung said.

Creating a Connect Home 

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Connect Homes’ Connect 8 model.

Connect’s rising popularity is undeniable. The company saw the most bookings in its history during the second quarter of 2020. Now, it’s looking like this year’s first quarter will beat last year’s fourth-quarter numbers, and the upcoming second quarter is already on track to surpass this quarter.

Among this influx of orders, there’s been a strong mix of requests for homes in urban, suburban, and countryside locations. No matter the destination, Connect’s modular units can be delivered across the US using semi-trailer trucks, rail cars, or cargo ships.

All of these homes are built in Connect’s California factory using an “assembly-line construction” method. As a result, Connect is able to build a home every six days, while an entire home can be produced in 24 days, according to Leung. When the units are finished, Connect will deliver its homes 90% complete and will install them for its customers using a crane

Compared to traditional houses, Connect’s homes are more efficient – in terms of time, money, waste, and carbon – to build “by orders of magnitude,” Leung said. This eco-friendly angle can also be seen throughout its homes: Connect’s units come with insulation, systems focused on power efficiency, a roof with high solar reflectance, and LED fixtures.

A look inside Connect’s most popular home

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Connect Homes’ Connect 8 model.

Not all of Connect’s customers are first-time homebuyers. In some cases, Connect’s clients are city dwellers looking to physically replace an existing home with a new house. Other times, it’s homebuyers seeking the “city to countryside” exodus that we’ve seen throughout COVID-19.

The company has also received inquiries from colder travel hotspots like ski resorts, which benefit from Connect’s strong insulation, year-round construction capabilities, and shipment of nearly complete homes.

While Connect doesn’t build purely custom homes, the existing models are semi-customizable via different finishes and appliances. There are also different packages – including one for cold weather and another for smart home tech – to further personalize the space.

Connect’s units – which sit on steel frames – don’t look any different than a typical modern house. The company offers 14 models, ranging from the $202,700 460-square foot Connect 1, to the $997,000 3,200 square-foot Connect 10. It’s important to note that these prices include the estimated costs of both the home and “site work.” 

Connect’s most popular model, the Connect 8, falls closer to the larger model at 2,560 square-feet. The two-story Connect 8 is a “quintessential family home” with its high-ceiling living room and entertainment spaces. The kitchen also flows into the back deck, creating an indoor-outdoor feel.

In total, the almost $814,000 home has three bedrooms and bathrooms. The second floor holds all three sleeping spaces, including the primary bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet. The top floor also has a second bathroom and a laundry room.

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Connect Homes’ Connect 8 model.

Heading downstairs, the lower floor holds the living and dining room, a pantry, and a bathroom.

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Connect Homes’ Connect 8 model.

All of this is lined with floor-to-ceiling glass windows to bring in as much natural light as possible. 

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes’ Connect 8 model.

According to Leung, the home’s success comes from its “versatile footprint” and its ability to fit in thin but long urban plots of land. 

“It’s not your sprawling larger ranch home, which doesn’t always fit in urban settings, but it’s also equally good in the country,” Leung said. “We sell them everywhere.”

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Almost 10% of American households are at risk of losing housing during pandemic, according to new report

eviction order Arizona
The Maricopa County constable signs an eviction order on October 7, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says nearly 10% of US households are at risk of losing housing.
  • The report added that the housing crisis is, “at a level not seen since the height of the Great Recession in 2010.”
  • Black and Hispanic homeowners and renters have been disproportionally affected.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau highlighted that 11 million American families are at risk of eviction or foreclosure due to financial strain from the coronavirus pandemic.

That means that almost 10% of American households are at risk, according to the report. In its analysis of the housing market during the pandemic, CFPB added that around 2.1 million families are at least three months late on mortgage payments, while 8.8 million renters are late on rent.

The report also mentioned that as forbearance and eviction moratoriums expire across states and federally, the crises will likely deepen.

“We are working hard to help homeowners and renters as the US begins to turn a painful crisis, caused by the pandemic, into a robust recovery,” CFPB Director Dave Uejio said in a press release. “We know small landlords are struggling, too, with many dipping into savings or using credit cards to make it through the pandemic. We want everyone – homeowners and renters, landlords, and mortgage servicers – to have the tools they need now to avoid unnecessary evictions and foreclosures.”

The report added that the housing crisis is “at a level not seen since the height of the Great Recession in 2010,” and that collectively American households are estimated to owe almost $90 billion.

The CFBP report also found that Black and Hispanic homeowners were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to have accumulated late housing payments during the pandemic. 

In terms of the renters market, Black and Hispanic households are more than twice as likely to be renters than white households, and the eviction crisis is disproportionately affecting those communities.

According to the report, the average late renter is over three months behind on rent, owing over $5,000 in rent and utilities. CFBP added that renters have been unable to pay a total of $44.1 billion dollars throughout the pandemic.

There are no policy recommendations in CFBP’s latest report, but the agency refers to advocates calling on the government to set aside $100 billion to assist low-income renters, building on the $25 billion set aside by the federal government through the Emergency Rental Program in December 2020.

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This California company makes smart, off-the-grid, and ‘healthy’ prefab homes for to $670,000 – see inside and how they work

A home from Dvele.4
A home from Dvele.

  • Dvele builds smart self-sustaining prefab homes that use AI to create a healthy home environment.
  • The “software-defined” homes use DveleIQ and 300 sensors to monitor itself and its occupants.
  • Dvele’s lineup includes both homes over 3,000 square-feet and tiny homes for $150,000 to $670,000.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

California-based Dvele is creating smart prefab homes with integrated artificial intelligence programs to make the homes healthier to live in.

While prefabricated homes aren’t a new concept, they’ve often been considered the future solution for our increasingly inaccessible housing market. As a result, several prefab home makers have seen an increase in public interest, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes Dvele, a technology-forward prefab home maker with a focus on improving both human and planet health.

Dvele’s lineup of home models combine several major topics that have since popped up during COVID-19, specifically home buying, prefab homes, and health. Keep scrolling to see how:

Prefabrication allows Dvele to produce its homes regardless of the weather conditions, all within four to six months.

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Dvele’s homes under construction.

Once the homes are ready, they can be shipped to its final destination and set in place using a crane.

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Dvele’s homes under construction.

According to Matt Howland, Dvele’s president, smart prefab homes are “absolutely” the future.

The Elsinore model.4
The Elsinore model.

“Can you imagine an iPhone being built in normal construction conditions?” Howland told Insider in an email interview. “To achieve a self-powered, intelligent home, factory production is the way to go.”

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Dvele’s homes under construction

Like many prefab home builders, Dvele saw a boost in business during COVID-19.

The Elsinore model's primary bedroom.
A home from Dvele.

However, Howland attributes this more to the nature of Dvele’s “healthy” homes (more on this in a bit) than the prefab aspect.

A home from Dvele. 34
A home from Dvele.

Dvele emphasizes a mid-century modern design with an open floor plan throughout its homes.

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A home from Dvele.

Peeking around inside, the units all look similar to that of any traditionally built home.

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A home from Dvele.

Aspects like the large windows, sliding doors, entertainment areas, custom cabinets, and modern utilities make its prefab nature almost unidentifiable.

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A home from Dvele.

The homes all have robust air quality, water filtration, and energy saving systems.

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A home from Dvele.

The homes can also be customized, and customers can pick from one of Dvele’s six different exterior finishes.

A home from Dvele.10
A home from Dvele.

Most of Dvele’s clients slightly customize their homes to fulfill their “dream home and lifestyle,” according to Howland.

A home from Dvele.12
A home from Dvele.

Dvele has 13 models of varying sizes, but it’s Elsinore model is its most popular.

The Elsinore model's  2
The Elsinore model.

Elsinore has been a hit with the customers due to its design, open floor plan, and “popular bedroom and bathroom mix,” Howland told Insider.

The Elsinore model's front entry.
The Elsinore model’s front entry.

The $640,000 Elsinore home is 2,940 square-feet with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.

The Elsinore model.2
The Elsinore model.

The popular home has an open kitchen, dining, and living room layout. There are also separate laundry and powder rooms.

The Elsinore model's kitchen.
The Elsinore model’s kitchen.

The kitchen looks like any normal cooking area with its cabinets, pantry, stovetop, dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator.

The Elsinore model's kitchen. 2
The Elsinore model’s kitchen.

Moving on, the living room has its own cabinets, an optional electric fireplace, and sliding doors that lead occupants out to the patio.

The Elsinore model's living room.
The Elsinore model’s living room.

The primary bedroom then has its own bathroom and a walk-in closet with wardrobes …

The Elsinore model's primary bedroom.
A home from Dvele.

… while the other two bedrooms share a bathroom.

The Elsinore model's primary bedroom's bathroom. 2
The Elsinore model’s primary bedroom’s bathroom.

The fourth bedroom – which can function as a guest room – has its own restroom.

The Elsinore model's guest bedroom.
The Elsinore model’s guest bedroom.

The full bathrooms all have the typical necessities, including wall-mounted toilets, showers, and vanities.

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A home from Dvele.

Other models in Dvele’s arsenal include the 3,523 square-foot Trinity. This option, the company’s largest offering, starts at $670,000 and includes four bedroom and 3.5 bathroom.

A home from Dvele.6
A home from Dvele.

Tiny home enthusiasts can also find their fit with the company’s three 419 square-foot tiny homes ranging from $150,000 to $180,000.

The Emerald Mini Home from Dvele.2
The Emerald Mini Home from Dvele.

No matter the model, all Dvele homes are built with DveleIQ, the company’s proprietary “whole home solution” that integrates artificial intelligence “from the foundation up” to make a home’s interior environment healthier.

A home from Dvele. 24
A home from Dvele.

“While DveleIQ facilitates the normal convenience features of smart home tech, it also provides an intelligent system that will enhance the health of the occupant, the home’s energy efficiency, and even the durability of the home,” Howland wrote.

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A home from Dvele.

Smart homes aren’t just about lights that turn on and off automatically.

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A home from Dvele.

To Dvele, a smart home is a home that creates a healthy environment while learning to become become more efficient overtime.

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A home from Dvele.

The “software-defined” homes use over 300 sensors and DveleIQ to monitor different aspects of the home, from mold to carbon dioxide.

A home from Dvele.9
A home from Dvele.

The home can then look into the reasons of any issues that have popped up.

The Elsinore model.
The Elsinore model.

For example, when the humidity level falls under a certain point, the home’s system will check for potential causes, such as open doors and the number of people in the home.

A home from Dvele. 28
A home from Dvele.

Another example: if the system notices potential water or mold damage, it will let the homeowners know, and can notify Dvele for any possible solutions.

A home from Dvele.4
A home from Dvele.

However, the units still have all the typical “smart home” features.

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A home from Dvele.

For example, the home can monitor its occupant’s schedule and preferred thermostat settings to set the interior temperature before the homeowner arrives back from an outing, preventing the thermostat from working even when the home is empty.

A home from Dvele.5
A home from Dvele.

To monitor its occupants, the home can use tools like smart phones and “energy consumption patterns,” according to Howland.

A home from Dvele. 44
A home from Dvele.

“Our homes are constantly learning about their occupants and adapting to them as they start to understand a user’s interaction with the home, anticipate their needs, and facilitate them through the home’s systems,” Howland wrote.

A home from Dvele. 47
A home from Dvele.

Dvele currently has a growing list of about 100 “intelligence home automations” that include detecting maintenance problems and helping its occupants relax at the end of the day, according to Howland.

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A home from Dvele.

“The goal of DveleIQ was to build a software-defined home that could sense in real time the state of the home and react accordingly,” Howland wrote. “Because of this, every Dvele home is continually getting better, like how software updates to a Tesla make it continually better.”

A home from Dvele.1
A home from Dvele.

According to Howland, the public has received DveleIQ well, especially as more people have begun understanding that a “smart home” isn’t just automatic lights and temperature settings.

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A home from Dvele.

Beyond technological innovations for healthier homes, Dvele also excels in the sustainability space.

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A home from Dvele.

Dvele is able to decrease its waste output because its homes are prefabricated with different models that use several of the same materials.

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A home from Dvele.

With the help of DveleIQ, the homes are also designed to be planet friendly by incorporating aspects like solar power, insulation, and efficient hot water heaters.

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A home from Dvele.

Keeping in line with the company’s green forward mission, Dvele plants 10,000 trees for every home built, and uses “sustainable material sourcing.”

A home from Dvele. 21
A home from Dvele.

Like other sustainable prefab home makers, Dvele aims for passive house certifications.

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A home from Dvele.

The homes are also all self-powered, taking away any reliance on larger power grids.

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A home from Dvele.

This is possible with a Dvele home’s insulation, energy efficient amenities, and solar power use.

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A home from Dvele.

A Dvele home’s solar panel output changes per location and home type. As of now, most of the company’s units are based in California, according to Howland.

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A home from Dvele.

The prefab units also have backup battery and energy storage systems just in case.

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A home from Dvele.

Are you an EV owner? No worry. A Dvele home’s systems have enough energy to charge an electric vehicle.

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A home from Dvele.

“DveleIQ and our ‘Self-Powered’ initiative were both very well received by the market and we saw an uptick in owners looking for quality healthy homes,” Howland wrote. “Our sales and interest have continued to exceed our boldest expectations, it’s been awesome to see how our core tenets are resonating with prospective owners.”

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A home from Dvele.

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