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April 17, 2021

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Vancouver’s Blokable delivers, sets up first housing unit in Edmonds

By , Columbian staff writer
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Blokable’s first housing unit arrived in Edmonds over the weekend. The Seattle-based housing and technology company manufactures the units in Vancouver.
Blokable’s first housing unit arrived in Edmonds over the weekend. The Seattle-based housing and technology company manufactures the units in Vancouver. Photo Gallery

Blokable won’t reinvent the wheel, but its hopes to reinvent housing construction are officially rolling.

The Seattle-based housing and technology company, whose plug-and-play homes are designed to cut time and costs to build housing, drove its first 260-square-foot studio apartment to a church in Edmonds over the weekend, where it was quickly installed.

The debut blok traveled about 180 miles from its manufacturing plant in Vancouver to the Edmonds Lutheran Church.

The blok was then craned off a truck and plugged into utilities in about three hours, co-CEO Nelson Del Rio said.

“Everything went perfectly. It was nice to see it go in,” he said of the Friday installation.

But the blok won’t house anyone just yet. Del Rio said it was mainly used to showcase its product to the city of Edmonds, where it hopes to build a 70-unit housing complex soon.

“In a way it is a show-and-tell because that first unit, the community has to be able to see it and touch it and know that it’s going to add value to the community — not subtract from it,” he said.

Blokable’s products take aim at the affordable housing crisis. The firm is developing technology to mass produce the units for far cheaper than current market rates, then ship them to a construction site. The units also sport built-in software and sensors to make them easier to maintain.

Because this unit was the first to make it through an entirely new production process, Del Rio said the company expects its investments to start yielding rapidly made and less expensive units.

“This one is an (accessory dwelling unit-style studio),” he said, noting that the same process can be configured to make several housing types. “The next one is one that connects horizontally and vertically over three stories.”

Blokable’s next project is a small communal project in Auburn, made up of seven one-bedroom units and five studios, Del Rio said. After that, he hopes to start on its larger project in Edmonds, which will be built in partnership with the housing nonprofit Compass Housing Authority.

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