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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Forges Into Modular Construction

MiTek Inc., a construction company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, has partnered with New York-based Danny Forster & Architecture to develop a system called Modular Activation Platform, or MAP. Its goal will be to simplify the construction of modular buildings, according to the partners.

A modular unit by Danny Forster & Architecture

One challenge posed by modular construction has been the expense in transporting ready-built rooms or other large parts to construction sites. MiTek's answer will be to create kits with building parts and ship them with instructions for on-site assembly. 

To facilitate assembly, MAP will also provide software that tracks the process at every stage. MiTek will also offer on-site training to help contractors make the transition to its system.

MiTek plans to automate manufacturing processes at its 225K SF factory in Missouri, The Wall Street Journal reports, including the use of such tech as robotic welders. The goal is to make building construction more like modern assembly-line manufacturing.

“How come an entire industry is operating on mid-to-late-20th-century mode when we’re a quarter of the way, almost, into the 21st century?” Barry LePatner, a construction attorney, told the WSJ.

The move by MiTek is the latest in a decades-long effort across the construction industry to make modular design and construction a more standard part of building structures. Those efforts have met with mixed results, and modular construction still has an image problem and suffers from lagging demand.

MiTek asserts that the demand for modular will increase, provided the technique is cost-effective, such as in the construction of affordable housing. 

“Communities across the country desperately need housing, and that is a need that modular can answer — and MiTek can help, collaborating with municipal authorities and MWBE-certified contractors to get it done,” MiTek Vice President for Modular Todd Ullom said in a statement.