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Pittsburgh Company ‘Module’ Wants Your House To Be Juuuuuuuust Right (Sized)

Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
This tiny neighborhood of homes displays Module’s dyanmic homes, which are intended to grow with their inhabitants.";

Tucked in a corner of Module’s East Liberty offices is a bunch of model home prototypes. CEO Brian Gaudio picks up the Pittsburgh start-up’s first one.

“The very first model we ever built was actually just little blocks from Michael’s Arts & Crafts store and we glued them together. It doesn’t look like a house at all,” he said. “No one really understood what the heck we were doing. So model No. 1, not a great success.”

Module’s houses look distinctly like houses today, but they kept the idea of blocks that fit together in a variety of configurations.

The company designs and builds homes intended to grow with their inhabitants, a concept its founders reckon can solve the problem of the one-size-fits-all house. Module sold its first home this month.

New homes are often too big and too expensive to be attainable for first-time buyers, said Gaudio.

“We’re giving people the right amount of space at the right time,” he said. “Buy the amount of house you need today, add on and upgrade as your family grows, as your income grows, as your needs change.”

Gaudio drew inspiration from South America where mortgages are often out of reach. Instead, people buy housing materials in cash, build what they can afford, and add over time. Gaudio says incremental housing is one way to build affordable housing, and could help address the city’s 20,000 unit shortage.

However, Module’s houses start at $149,000. The company suggests planning on another $50,000 for the foundation, site work and permits.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.