In the late 1990s, when Google was nothing more than a company being run from a garage, Silicon Valley was a nascent tech-boom hub in northern California. Since then, both have blown up: the tech company in scale and profitability, the area in population density. The result, of course, has been that housing prices have shot through the roof, forcing some companies to rethink the approach of their employees’ living situations.
In an effort to alleviate some of its workers’ housing concerns, it was reported this morning in the Wall Street Journal, Google is finalizing a deal with the construction company Factory OS (a modular-home start-up firm) to purchase 300 modular homes that will serve as short-term housing for the tech giant’s employees. The agreement, valued between $25 and $30 million, to use prefab construction will reduce construction costs between 20 and 50 percent.
Home prices in California tech hubs such as San Jose, Palo Alto, and Cupertino rank among the priciest in the country. According to a study by the online residential real estate site, Trulia, the median home value within Silicon Valley (Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties) has jumped from $535,614 in 2012 to $888,444 in 2016. Which has forced not only Google’s hand in dealing with the situation, but Facebook’s as well. Last year, the social media empire announced it would invest roughly $20 million in two cities that surround its Menlo Park, California, campus, to create a fund to build new housing units, of which 15 percent will be classified as affordable housing.
It’s evident that in regions where there is a housing shortage (New York, Miami, Silicon Valley), many are turning to modular construction. Late last year in Brooklyn, for example, the world’s tallest modular skyscraper was completed. The 359-foot tall building is right next to the SHoP Architects–designed Barclays Center.