Bensonwood, Unity Homes expanding in Keene, NH

WALPOLE, N.H. — Walpole, NH-based builder Bensonwood and its offshoot Unity Homes recently began work on a new production facility in Keene. The companies are transforming an existing 104,000-square-foot building into a world-class facility for constructing high-performance homes using off-site construction methods. The new shop, in the former home of medical equipment supplier Smiths Medical, has been designed to triple the production capacity of both companies.

"We are very excited about the potential for this new facility to serve the growing market for healthy, comfortable, energy efficient homes," said founder Tedd Benson,

The new facility features state-of- the-art machinery that will automate much of the companies' work.

"A new computer controlled saw center will cut the parts and pieces that make up our prefabricated panels," said Paul Boa, Senior Project Manager for the new facility. "The saw center will be fed by a robotic lifting system that will know which pieces need to be cut next. The production line for our wall panels will be largely automated, with cutting, shaping and fastening controlled by computer files that are generated from the 3D virtual model of the home."

In addition to increasing production capacity, the advanced equipment and additional space in the new facility will allow for a higher degree of prefabrication of building components. For example, the companies plan to ship exterior wall panels with most of the siding pre-installed, eliminating the need for that time-consuming work on site.

Bensonwood will grow its workforce to help staff the new facility, creating at least fifteen new jobs.

"These aren't your typical carpentry jobs," said Benson. "Most of our work is done in the controlled conditions of the shop, using sophisticated equipment that enhances safety and productivity. You're more apt to find our 'carpenters' checking a 3D virtual model on a tablet computer than shuffling through a set of paper plans."

Benson hopes that the new facility will serve as a compelling demonstration of how better homes can be built.

"The American public is being under-served by the home-building industry," said Benson. "Most other industries have made great strides toward increasing quality and lowering costs — but not home building. Most homes in America are still built essentially the same way they were 200 years ago, by cutting and shaping each piece on site. Unity and Bensonwood have pioneered the use of computer technology and off-site manufacturing methods to build high quality homes. This new facility will allow us to take our game to the next level — and we hope provide inspiration to the rest of the industry."

Funding for development of the facility is made possible in part by a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant sub-granted to Monadnock Economic Development Corp., which will lease the property to Unity Homes.

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