Mass Casitas: Building better with modular mass timber construction

Oregon has an ambitious goal of producing an additional 36,000 housing units annually. This goal, codified in early 2023 under Executive Order 23-04, would put Oregon on a path to address the housing shortage and keep up with population growth. The challenge is: How can production be scaled up?

Enter modular homes using mass timber. Homes using this model can be built year-round, often on quicker timelines than traditional site-built homes and can be shipped throughout the state. One successful proof of concept is Mass Casitas, a collaboration between the Port of Portland and Hacienda Community Development Corporation (Hacienda CDC).

The T2 Mass Timber Innovation Hub in the Port of Portland served as the warehouse to build homes for the Mass Casitas project. Hacienda CDC then worked closely with community partners to place the first six prototype homes at sites in Madras, Otis, Portland and Talent.

Energy Trust of Oregon is providing design support to Hacienda CDC and architectural partners, Salazar Architect, to maximize efficiency in Mass Casitas homes. To inform recommendations, program staff visited the Terminal 2 site to examine home envelope construction techniques, equipment efficiencies, and air tightness. When it comes to efficiency, factory-built mass timber housing has several advantages over traditional site-built homes:

  • Each wall is produced as a single panel with no studs or This makes it easier to install continuous insulation, reducing thermal bridging, decreasing heating and cooling loads in the home.
  • It’s easier to standardize home construction in a factory setting, ensuring better quality and consistency for all units.
  • Construction can take place year-round in a climate-controlled facility, which has potential to significantly decrease construction Site- built homes can take over six months to build, whereas these units complete construction in four months.

The first two pilot homes have already qualified for energy efficiency incentives from Energy Trust. Hacienda CDC plans to take lessons learned from these initial Mass Casitas homes to inform future mass production strategies.

To learn more about Mass Casitas visit Hacienda CDC’s website.