The company, which is preparing to open a sales center in Austin, hopes to soon have ready a system of transporting residential modules complete with concrete foundations, which it is already doing successfully with commercial structures.
“Modular has never really caught on here,” says Dr. Jorge Vanegas, dean of Texas A&M’s College of Architecture, with whom Neatherlin has consulted. “So when I see what GroundFORCE is doing, I get excited about the possibilities.”
Fred Hallahan, whose Baltimore-based Hallahan Associates tracks modular construction nationally, also thinks Neatherlin is onto something, especially for markets such as Texas where modular built on slab is at a cost disadvantage with stick-built product.
Neatherlin has developed and patented a system that positions modules and a self-supporting slab onto a transportation bed and places the slab into a “compression strut,” with cabling underneath connected to hydraulic cylinders. The setup induces compression and minimizes road vibration, and the system allows the foundation to be lowered onto corner piers without cranes.
GroundFORCE currently supplies modules (with wood foundations) to Houston-based builder Trendmaker. But the company’s goal is to develop its own turnkey program, so that the house—with concrete slab—could be “buttoned up,” says marketing manager Ron Spataro, within weeks of being dropped at the site. “We’re emphasizing quality,” he adds.