Self-Adhered Products Provide Premium Protection for Student-Built Habitat for Humanity Homes
Like many industries, the construction industry is facing challenges such as labor shortages, rising material costs and the need for faster project delivery. Offsite construction has been gaining acceptance as it presents a viable solution to address these challenges by optimizing labor resources, reducing on-site construction time and improving project predictability.
The educators at Weitz Construction Academy at Seminole Ridge High School in Loxahatchee, Florida have been practicing offsite construction long before it became popular. The construction team at the Academy has been teaching and emphasizing the important role offsite construction will play in the industry for years. Not only do they believe that the offsite approach will continue to grow with the advancement of technology and improved industry practices, the offsite construction system solves challenges for the Academy’s Habitat for Humanity home projects.
Habitat for Humanity House #11
In October of 2023, the students at the Academy began building their 11th modular house for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Palm Beach County in their school workshop. The houses built by the Academy’s students provide weather protected homes for hardworking families in Palm Beach County.
The 1,200 square foot house with three bedrooms and two baths is being built by 170 construction students. The house is being carefully built in modular sections by the students in the school’s workshop. As the students build the house they consider many challenges and work together to uncover the solutions.
One challenge is that the siding is installed on the modular house at the jobsite. Thus, the house is exposed to highway speed winds without the protection of siding when it is transported from the school’s workshop to the Habitat jobsite. Another challenge that the student team focused on is the changing and dynamic weather in Florida. Tropical storms and hurricane seasons have intensified in recent years. The uncertainty of Mother Nature often causes construction weather delays, and most importantly - completed houses need to withstand the worst weather, no matter their size.
To help solve these challenges, the Academy selected GRACE ICE & WATER SHIELD® HT self-adhering roofing underlayment and VYCOR® enV-S™, a self-adhered weather barrier building materials. CertainTeed donated these residential building materials, which are playing a critical role in the offsite construction process:
- GRACE ICE & WATER SHIELD® HT self-adhered roofing underlayment was easily applied in the workshop, providing premium performance for the modular house’s roofing system, as it seals to itself at overlaps, seals to the roof deck and seals around the fasteners used to attach the shingles. All of these features help prevent water from leaking into a home, even in Florida’s rainy and windy climate.
- GRACE ICE & WATER SHIELD® HT will be the only roof covering on the modular roof sections until they are delivered to the jobsite. This video showcases the roof sections with the applied self-adhered roofing underlayment being moved from the workshop to be stored outside at the school. The students built two gadgets with wheels that allowed them to easily push the roof sections outside to where they will be stored until they load and ship the house to the Habitat jobsite. As it has done in past years, the premier self-adhered roofing will keep the modules dry while they sit outside of the workshop for months.
- As the siding on the modular house has to be installed at the jobsite, the house will need to be transported from the school’s workshop to the Habitat jobsite without the protection of siding, exposing the house to highway speed winds. VYCOR® enV-S™, a self-adhered weather barrier that seals to the substrate, resists damage due to jobsite conditions and wind. It also provides a longer term building envelope protector to keep the finished interiors dry until the Habitat team can install the siding at the jobsite.
The offsite construction process provided multiple benefits:
The Elimination of Weather Delays: By conducting the majority of the home construction inside the school’s workshop, they did not have to work around Mother Nature’s schedule.
Safer Construction: The indoor construction environment reduced the risks of accidents and related liabilities for the students.
A Better Build: According to the Modular Home Builders Association, modular houses have proven to be more resilient than on-site built construction. The reason for their strength is each module is engineered to independently withstand the stresses of transportation and the module-to-module combination of the units provides a rigid system. Building offsite also provides improved quality management. As a result, the use of the offsite construction process and premium building products have provided a safe and stable place for these new homeowners.
In January 2024, house #11 will be delivered to the jobsite. At the jobsite the modules will be carefully placed on to the foundation and finishing touches will then be installed.
“The GRACE ICE & WATER SHIELD® HT roofing underlayment is slip resistant and remains firmly in place during transport of the modular home,” said Co-Founder of the Weitz Construction Academy & Architect David Porter. “The design of the house modules and dried in roof sections all had to be structurally independent and stronger than if they had been built stick-by-stick on the foundation at the jobsite. In offsite construction, completed modules are raised 60 feet into the air by a crane to load onto tractor-trailers and then off loaded at the jobsite to place them on the foundation walls and center support piers. The process is more like designing a water-tight boat that gets lifted with harnesses than a traditional house.”
The offsite construction market is projected to continue expanding as more developers, contractors and clients recognize the benefits it offers in terms of time, cost, quality and sustainability. After the experience of building at least four offsite construction houses, the graduates of Weitz Construction Academy will be well prepared to support its growth, thanks to their forward-thinking teachers.