Moving Modular: The hurricane-fighting homes coming to Florida’s coasts

Reporter: Gail Levy
Published: Updated:

A coastal lifestyle is like a rose. It’s beautiful to look at and normally smells fresh and clean, but when you run your hand down the stem, you never know when a thorn will pop up.

On the coast, a thorn may be a hurricane.

Much of Key Largo has been built to code to keep those thorns from piercing people’s hands, just like how these homes now need to be built to withstand winds of 180 miles per hour.

Labor and supply shortages make the job of new builds all the more difficult. Unless there’s another way?

Alas, there is! A company called Affinity Building Systems is bringing these modular powerhouses to the forefront. Change whatever idea you have of a modular home in your head—these are built to withstand 180 mph winds, and they can be elevated to any height that meets the code.

In just a matter of hours, a group of pilings went from supporting nothing to supporting an entire house.

A crane lifted up the “Boxes” and laid them down piece by piece like legos, but with a little more precision.

Modular home in Key Largo. (Credit: WINK News)

The home pieces are built in Georgia, where the home is constructed in pieces in a controlled environment, just like Henry Ford’s assembly line with the Model Ts. These homes are like the “model modulars.”

The builder is able to customize a homeowner’s new place of peace with all of the details you could want in a home built from the ground up. Not to mention you don’t have to wait on delays if the guy who does the flooring is a no-show. The homes take 21 days from start to finish on the assembly line. Then it’s shipped down on semi-trucks to its final destination.

MORE: Modular homes helping people rebuild quickly on Fort Myers Beach

You may drive by a piece of the house on the side of the road, just know, it won’t be there for long.

Those pieces of the house are going to be parked next a crane. Then in the builder, Jim Saunders’ words, “We’re lifting houses.”

But before this bad boy is lifted up in the air, it’s made to be tough, Category 5 hurricane tough.

The sides of these homes are made out of hardy siding, they’re like a cement board, so they’re strong, they’re nailed into the home, and these are able to withstand the 180-mile-per-hour winds.

Another thing you’ll notice is that the siding isn’t complete on one end of the house where it’s going to be connected to another piece. They do that intentionally, so there’s no seam. Once the house is all set and ready to go, they’ll add the siding.

Saunders: “The flooring comes in. This house gets click-lock vinyl, and so that will go in afterward.”
Gail: “How long until the appliances are all set up and moved into place?”
Saunders: “Three weeks. We’ll have the interior of the house finished out within a month, 100%.”

Modular home in Key Largo. (Credit: WINK News)

The house is 1,713 square feet, with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, with one great big closet.

The time it takes for one of these modular homes to go from conception to completion is anywhere from six to eight months and pieced together in half a day.

Wednesday, plumbers and electricians are coming out to start that aspect of the setup. Then in six weeks’ time, a new family will have a door and some stairs to call 80 Coral Way home.

Saunders said while time WINK News was with him on Tuesday, he was asked to do some business on Fort Myers Beach.

He’s not the only builder putting these together, either. Six months post-Hurricane Ian, we know more than 50 of these are the answer for homeowners to get back on the beach.

On average, these modular homes cost around $200 to $300 a square foot. Of course, that price can go up or down depending on how a customer wants it customized.

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