Can US modular home specialist deliver for Ireland?

Volumetric Business Companies has set up an operation in Monaghan but State’s experience with modular housing has not been encouraging to date

Pennsylvania modular housing specialist Volumetric Building Companies has established a “global centre of excellence” in Ireland, a decision that seems incongruous given the State’s singular inability to capitalise on the flexibility such building methods offer at a time of a widespread housing crisis alongside an upsurge in applicants seeking international protection.

Modular housing, often referred to as “rapid build” construction, is designed to deliver units more quickly and at lower cost than more traditional methods of construction. Volumetric, which IDA Ireland on Friday hailed as a leader in the industry, specialises in multi-story modular buildings.

Confirming that Volumetric had officially opened its first Irish operation in Monaghan, it said the company was focused on providing high quality, sustainably-produced buildings in less time across various market sectors. Peter Burke, the recently appointed Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment said the US company’s investment in areas such as off-site construction “is increasingly important, both economically and environmentally”.

Unlike some of our EU neighbours, Ireland’s experience with modular construction to date has shown that it is anything but rapid or affordable.


A report earlier this week said the State was scaling back an order for modular homes for Ukrainian refugees to 654 units to stay within a €237 million budget. That puts the average unit cost of that contract at a whopping €363,000 – a significant multiple of the prices at which such units are typically available in places like Germany.

The figure includes site and utility costs but even so.

And money aside, the Government has failed to get modular units in position across the State in anything like the numbers required to help address the accommodation crisis – even if you focus only on what are expected to be shorter-term housing pressures.

Just as well then that Volumetric is not relying solely o the Irish market for business. The Monaghan unit will be home to product designers, engineers and architectural technicians who will deliver the detailed designs and models required for the group’s US and EU-based factories to deliver modular projects across North America, Europe, Britain and the Middle East.

Volumetric chief executive Vaughan Buckley said the decision to base their operation in Monaghan was due to the hub of relevant talent “originally brought together through the vision and leadership of [Century Homes founder] Gerry McCaughey”.

,He also noted: “Ireland and its healthcare, housing and infrastructure needs represent a huge opportunity for partnership and collaboration with the off-site sector.”

Too true.