Hallmark Communities President Chris Hall envisioned for some time how technology could help reduce the rising costs of residential construction and offset the steady decline of skilled labor to build new structures. He came across Agorus after reading an article about a concept project the company took on in the San Diego suburb of Coronado.
“As we got to know the company and their capabilities, we felt that our El Cajon, California, project was the obvious choice,” said Hall. “Though we already had existing build plans for the site, we developed new ones incorporating their technology.”
Hallmark contracted Agorus to build 39 townhomes for its Daybreak community, beginning in July 2022, starting with the two-floor plan project. Seven buildings would eventually be constructed with townhomes of approximately 2,000 livable square feet. Each frame would include full MEP routing to streamline the follow-on installation of electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and Internet infrastructure by subcontractors.
“Until now, off-site construction couldn’t conform to the unique specifics of a job site, and the opportunities to build homes this way were limited,” said Greg Otto, Vice President of Growth and Construction for Agorus. “Our 3D design process and off-site construction approach gives us more options for greater customization of any project anywhere, be it infill or new sites.”
For the Hallmark Communities project, Agorus employed the developer’s designs in its ONE Plan™ software to create a digital twin of the homes. This tactic allows the company to value-engineer the best structure, with every component needed to finish the framing. Doing so reduced on-site installation by two-thirds while exponentially reducing material waste.
“The best traditional ‘stick build’ crews that don’t experience any delays in weather or have anyone call in sick can get the framing installation for a standard home done in 12 days. We did it in four,” said Otto. “It took us less than a day to manufacture the framing in our factory and three days of on-site installation. Our biggest limiting factor was crane availability.”
Partnering with Hallmark for this project came with the understanding that both companies would gain much knowledge from the experience. “We’re probably the first company in San Diego County to use this technology in a production capacity and went into this project with eyes wide open,” said Hall. “We expected that we’d learn a lot in the process, and we did. The advancements made from the first building to the last building were impressive. Overall, very happy with the process.”
Hall continued, “One of the unique things our Construction Superintendent noted when he went to the job site was how quiet it was. Normally, you have many people sawing away and generating noise.”
“We want to meet the industry where it is and deliver meaningful value while building trust,” said Otto. “As we build trust, we can add more benefits to that builder’s the next project. The more we can add, the more we can unlock the industry’s ability to shorten the 5.5 million US housing gap.”