Making homes more affordable by building them like cars

Prefabricated apartments put together assembly-line style may be the future of homebuilding.

At Factory_OS in San Francisco, apartment homes travel along an assembly line and are put together at different work stations.

"What's going on here is a lot of housing construction with a very different methodology. We're building a house more like you'd build a car," Factory_OS CEO Rick Holliday, told KPIX in an interview.

The floor goes first, then a crane moves it to the next station where bathrooms, walls and ceilings are installed.

The technique is aimed at cutting down on labor and construction costs at the final build site. Think of it like Legos -- the boxes are put together and then stacked like blocks (up to five stories high). Each unit costs around $60,000 to build.

Northern California real estate around San Francisco and San Jose has skyrocketed, making housing increasingly unaffordable. Several buildings have already been constructed using the prefab apartments in San Francisco, while one in Oakland is underway. Google (GOOG) has placed an order for 300 of the units.

"We can build it faster," Factory_OS Chief Operating Officer Larry Pace said. "We can build it more efficiently with better quality control at a greater cost savings."