Technology has successfully “disrupted” many industries, from transportation to entertainment, even retail. But there’s one industry that seems immune to tech: real estate. We don’t see a lot of attempts to innovate housing or at least try to make homes more affordable. Instead, tech was used to improve the efficiencies of existing processes, like enabling users to search for homes and properties faster, showing more accurate results.

Technology has also already improved construction. The latest trends all pointing towards robotics and automation, VR, and cloud-based construction software, among others. Click for more info about these trends, and see which ones you can use on your future projects.

Still, it’s not enough to change how people buy or lease houses.

Here are some of the most notable ways these companies use innovative technologies to address the affordable housing crisis, and how they strive to make more homes within reach for more people.

Changing how we look at modular and prefab

One company is trying to change how the world sees modular and prefabricated homes. Module, a Pittsburgh company founded in 2016, gives buyers the opportunity to build a house they can afford now, and just add and expand their homes as needed. For example, your family can only afford a one- or two-bedroom house today. Module can build that for you, and still leave you room for flexibility, in case you want to expand the home to add 2 more bedrooms in the future. That’s the beauty of modular—you can expand and improve your existing house, keeping the cost down since you won’t be wasting any materials during the process. Perhaps, providing buyers with more influence on the design of the home, 3D printing involved in prefabricated construction processes has resolved to defuse the housing crises surrounding the many low- to middle-income communities.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest hurdles that the company faces is its modular construction. There’s a negative perception about prefabricated materials, with many immediately assuming that what they’re offering is mobile or trailer homes. On the contrary, Module’s homes go above and beyond the necessary requirements of the International Residential Code. This means every house built is rated to last for decades and withstand the elements. Approaching building homes as a holistic ecosystem of design and construction, prefab construction has assuaged millennial fears of never being able to own a home.

Module targets millennial customers, first-time homebuyers with not a lot of money to spend right now but will definitely expand their homes in the near future when they start their families. This is a very attractive deal for their target market, as it gives them the flexibility to expand however they like, with no added pressure of selling their old homes in order to get a new one. 

Warming up to the idea of co-living

One of the biggest factors why we’re experiencing an affordable housing crisis, is the lack of new housing stock. Nothing is affordable because there’s nothing available, so unless we’re able to create more living spaces out of the existing ones, we are doomed.

Fortunately, that’s what PadSplit is all about. This Atlanta-based co-living startup aims to increase new, affordable living options by “splitting” existing single-family homes into more rentable space. Let’s take a 3-bedroom home for example. PadSplit will renovate that home, subdividing it to accommodate more bedrooms. The rooms will then be up for rent, with shared common spaces and bathrooms for future tenants.

This is a perfect living arrangement for those who are looking for a place closer to work, with less expensive utilities but still have all the elements that you’d want in a house. They’ll be paying for one fixed weekly payment.

These arrangements also target millennial professionals, but it’s also a feasible option for working individuals living paycheck to paycheck because of expensive housing. With just one bill to pay for everything you’d need in a home, they’ll have more opportunities to save and probably get their own place, advance their career, or even start their own business.

We’re in the middle of an affordable housing crisis; wherein low to moderate-income families struggle to find homes. Perhaps, this is what served as an impetus for a few entrepreneurs to try and attempt to trim housing costs. People are now starting to see the value of disrupting this industry, of how it can both be beneficial for those on the fringes of society and still remain profitable.

Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.