The modular construction company is seeking state funding to provide affordable housing solutions
High Purpose Homes is taking steps toward building its modular factory in Montezuma County and potentially achieving its goal of building 250 homes a year.
The Durango-based startup has been searching for affordable housing solutions in southwest Colorado since its inception last year.
Through a combination of applications for Proposition 123 funding and Innovative Housing Incentive Program funding, the company hopes to use those funds to build a 49,000-square-foot factory, which would mass produce modular homes.
Higher Purpose has also raised about $3 million in private investment, which co-founder Nick Lemmer said represents about two-thirds of what the company is trying to raise.
If Higher Purpose receives the necessary funding from Prop 123 and IHIP, it will begin construction of the plant in 2024 with the goal of having it operational by early 2025.
The plant is located in western Mancos, and Limmer says it will create about 160 new jobs for the area. He added that the employment will also include benefits and the possibility of owning a partial stake in the company.
The homes High Purpose plans to build will be 99% completed by the time they leave the facility to speed up the process of being placed on a lot. The company’s plan is to build 250 homes per year, with a focus on building one completed home per day.
The cost of the desired facility to the company is approximately $6.5 million, including employee wages.
“The main reason for us is to build community. We’re not just interested in making money off of this,” Limmer said.
Last year, the company was one of the Southwest Colorado Accelerator groups for its attempt to provide a solution to the housing dilemma in Southwest Colorado.
Higher-end homes are looking to build units that cost around $300,000, but those prices don’t include the cost of the land. However, Lemire says that while the company cannot control expenses outside of its overhead, he believes the ability to build inventory at a rapid rate will in turn create pressure to reduce housing costs.
Building one unit would cost the company $125 per square foot, he said. According to the Durango Area Association of Realtors’ most recent quarterly report, the median cost of a La Plata County home will be $657,000 during the third quarter of 2023.
One of the company’s core elements is building homes in a sustainable way. Limmer said that on-site construction wastes 15% of the materials used, while factory construction wastes only 3%.
One of the reasons Limmer and co-founder Ethan Diffenbaugh started the company was because they saw the impact housing had on professions like teaching and health care, both of which their wives worked in.
Teaching shortages have been reported across the state, prompting school districts like Durango School District 9-R and Ignacio School District to increase teacher pay in order to maintain staff.
“My wife is a teacher at DHS. She’s seen it firsthand. Ethan’s wife is a nurse and she’s seen it firsthand. He’s been here over 20 years and has seen friends come and go,” Limmer said. “My wife and I, we’ve been here for seven years,” Limmer said. “We’re already starting to see that with the friends we have.”
Other projects the company has been involved in include building roof panels for Pueblo Community College and Habitat for Humanity. Higher Purpose is also working on its first small home expansion project.
“The students at PCC are building the floors and walls and we are building the roof panels. We will be working with them on site to help them install their floors and walls,” Limmer said.
An additional room for a tiny house will be built as part of the expansion project, Lemire said.
“Maybe you have a young couple who can’t afford a three-bedroom house or maybe even a two-bedroom house, and they can start with a one-bedroom,” Limmer said of the small home additions. “Then they decide to have kids and they can’t move somewhere and they think, Maybe we can add more.”