Building the First Prototype Kit

The experience to build our first prototype kit in my hometown.

When delays hit on the business side of things, it’s only a matter of hours before I run into someone who proclaims, “Your house is going up quick! It looks so awesome!” and my spirits are lifted. I’m reminded that our purpose is greater than small speed bumps and what we are doing matters. People have witnessed the momentum of this past few months, but not all are aware of the journey we’ve taken to get here.

microMansions was founded in 2018. The dream started a year prior. The goal from the beginning was to solve problems in the residential industry; Problems that I had experienced first hand when trying to purchase, and later build, my first home.

Homeowners experience a myriad of frustrations when trying to build a new home, from selecting the site it will be built on to selecting the tile in the kitchen. Some sites aren’t zoned as needed, are in a flood plain, or house sizes and styles may be dictated by a Homeowner’s Association. Selecting a contractor can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the process. They provide bids, each with an idea of what can and can’t be done within budget. It almost always ends up being over budget, with unexpected costs in the middle of the project. Contractors may experience weather delays, supply shortages, or simply may be unexperienced in managing subcontractor schedules – all resulting in further frustrations for the homeowner. Financing is another big concern of a homeowner planning to purchase. There are different types of financing, down payments are usually 20%, and your interest rates may not be as good as when you first started building.

Contractors aren’t short of frustrations. Weather delays and supply shortages are usually at no fault to them, but they take the heat for most of it. They aren’t fully in control of subcontractor availability, but it’s still their job to get the job done on time and on budget to preserve their reputation. Homeowner’s often select a more expensive finish than what was budgeted, or make design changes mid-build as they walk through to see progress, resulting in a change order (or cost increase). All of these items can certainly be managed and communicated upfront, but that rarely happens due to the fast-paced schedule of the build.

All those things fed into the process I’ve been building for microMansions.

Our kit process aims to reduce these burdens. Homeowner’s choose a pre-designed floor plans and finish packages. All of the items selected are stock finishes and fixtures, readily available to ship. Contractors receive pre-framed walls that go together like Legos. No measuring and cutting on site (for the most part). Everything is labeled and attached together via a set of instructions, like you’d assemble a piece of furniture. The walls panels already have exterior sheathing and interior insulation. We reduce the number of subcontractors needed on site to only concrete, roofing, sheetrock (if the contractor doesn’t do this in house), and mechanical, electrical and plumbing. We will continue to develop these panels to be more efficient as we see gaps we can improve upon.

We remove the delays and shorten a construction schedule by having all of the materials on site.

We remove the design changes by having them pre-selected.

We remove the cost increases by reducing the surprises.

We remove financial uncertainty by partnering with a bank for a microMansion mortgage program.

We’ve thought of several things over the years and I’m happy to say we are finally achieving them. What you have been watching evolve locally in Columbus are all of these ideas collectively coming to fruition.

What you’ve been watching may look fast, but it’s years of patience in the making.

We are now ready to hit the ground running, but we first need to expand from our 2 man crew. Here’s where I’ll insert a shameless plug! We are looking to hire additional carpenters to stay on schedule.

With a full crew, a microMansion should have a 6-week construction schedule. We are rounding into week 10 right now, and I anticipate we have 2-3 more weeks.

Luckily we’ve only experienced one material delay that drastically delayed our project: the siding. This was at no fault the supplier, but was instead my own. I assumed that by ordering material that was “in stock” it would be quickly available. I was wrong. I delayed the project for two weeks while we waited on it.

Because the kit is small, we’ve been fortunate to have subcontractors squeeze us in between larger projects. Our team will finish out the interior trim and finish work ourselves, with the painting and flooring being done over a weekend with the help of friends. We are planning on a New Year’s open house with an Airbnb launch date shortly after.

I leave you with a quote that sums up my emotions surrounding this kit –

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali

Starting a business is a grueling process and this venture has been no different. I’m so grateful for everyone who has supported my vision along the way and helped me get this to where it is right now. It took an army and always will.

Happy Holidays!

– Abby

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Building the First Prototype Kit

The experience to build our first prototype kit in my hometown. When delays hit on the business side of things, it’s only a matter of hours before I run into someone who proclaims, “Your house