Why it Matters: A Modular Factory Tour + Concept Home in Pittsburgh

You may have heard that the Housing Innovation Alliance is part of a nationwide, kickass team building a Concept Home. And it happens to be in our own backyard – strategically located in Garfield – one of Pittsburgh’s unique 90 neighborhoods. 


As the development partner for The Picket Fence Concept Home, we’ve reached into our national network and brought together leading experts from across the value chain. As the Housing Innovation Alliance, we’re doing what we do best, bringing together people, ideas and capital, only this time, it’s to activate a pilot project with a range of implications for how we design, build, and live in our homes. We’ve focused on increasingly important consumer drivers that extend well beyond physical and emotional well-being to include an emphasis on financial stability and civic responsibility.  

The Picket Fence intends to be a beacon of inspiration for construction and home industry professionals to not only remain competitive, but also to make a lasting change. Design, manufacturing, and construction professionals can come together to bring rapid transformation toward a healthier future. This home aims to have a 70% lower carbon footprint with less greenhouse gas emissions, and 90% less construction waste than in typical new home construction. It will be built as a higher-performance home with healthier controlled indoor environments. This will be achieved while focusing on market-rate attainability where housing affordability and energy and maintenance costs are a continually growing challenge. 

This home was designed to advance the livability of urban townhomes. Dubbed a “townhome + 1,” The Picket Fence was designed to fit on a narrow lot and provide a large, covered deck facing the street, private entry for the main townhouse, and a fenced front yard and front entry porch for the “+1” ground floor studio.  

Its design is driven by results from the America at Home Study, the only national longitudinal consumer study capturing early, peak and post-COVID consumer perceptions of home, including an urgency for increased wellness and eco-conscious living.

Our recent LinkedIn Live featuring members of the Concept Home team is broken into segments for easy viewing in the following YouTube Playlist.  

Consumer Insights | Origin Story | Livability + Sustainability | Constructability


The Picket Fence is being constructed 70 miles Northeast of Pittsburgh, in Stratanville, PA, at Structural Modular Innovations’ (SMI) off-site factory before being transported in modules and assembled on an under-utilized site. 

We recently teamed up with the Green Building Alliance and the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh to introduce realtors to the benefits of volumetric modular construction and provide continuing education for green building enthusiasts interested in this methodology. Attendees participated in a facility tour, presentations + conversations at SMI and learned about The Picket Fence Concept Home story. 

The tour and continuing education credits were made possible by a National Association of REALTORS® Sustainability Grant. A BIG THANK YOU to our hosts at Structural Modular Innovations, breakfast sponsor, AR Construction, and Karen Benner (active member of the Housing Innovation Alliance, GBA, + Realtors Association 👏 👏 👏 ) for pulling us all together! 

Attendee Feedback

“It was very interesting to have representatives from both the public and private sectors together. The networking and perspective-sharing was very encouraging and inspiring. It reminded me that although everyone may look at housing through a slightly different lens, we are all committed to providing exceptional customer service to the client.” – anonymous attendee


Off-site housing declined to just 2% of single-family homes in 2022, according to completion data from the Census Bureau Survey of Construction data and NAHB analysis. This share has been steadily declining since the early-2000s despite the high-level of interest in non-site built construction. – NAHB Eye on Housing, Sept. 2023.  

John Burns Research and Consulting recently published a podcast featuring Rick Palacios and Dean Wehrli where they discussed just how low inventory is right now and made the case for continued new home resilience. (This part of the conversation begins at 15:50 in the podcast.)  

“So this was that exercise where you say, “Okay, well, let’s look at that ratio of listings to owned housing units in the system, and what would a normal amount be?” And so today, 1% of all the owned housing units in the system are listed for sale. Historically, that averages about 3%. And so I think you need to haircut that 3% to probably around two and a half percent for all the reasons we just discussed structurally that probably suppress supply. But the reality is you probably do need to come back to somewhat of a more normal ratio. And so to get it back to about two and a half percent of all owned housing units would be listed for sale, you would have to have listings roughly double from a million to just over two million units.

We’re clearly nowhere near that. We’re not seeing any signs of that happening right now. I think that’s been a big part of why the new home space has outperformed, is you’d never really got a resale supply bump this spring or for the matter this whole year. I mean, the last time that we had two million listings in the system, you’d have to go back to, I think it’s around 2016, 2017. Yeah, to get back to a normal level if you use that as your anchor, that’s a big jump in listings, which unless something is percolating out there that we have no visibility on, that’s not coming.”

– How Long Will Home Builder Euphoria Last? Podcast Episode 82

Modular construction is one solution that can efficiently create inventory where none exists. 


  • Download the post-event resource pdf including links to recordings, slide decks and more. 
  • Podcast with Nicole Granath of Tangible: Key insights featuring embodied carbon as the next era of building codes, and much more 
  • Infographic: Wave 3 of the America at Home Study
  • Off-site Heat Map: A free crowdsourced tool 

Like what we’re doing? Join the Housing Innovation Alliance to network, attend events, collaborate, connect, and gain access to more tools + resources!