Yesterday, the Times reported that Airbnb - the short term rental company that has massively disrupted the hotel industry - is about to move into house building*.
The new venture, "Backyard", will focus on building affordable, environmentally-conscious, new homes which have been designed to adapt to the way that people's lives change over time. It is also likely that they will be designed so that they can be easily rented out on Airbnb.
Given that the lead on the project, Fedor Novikov, has a background in robotic construction (and that Airbnb is, first and foremost, a tech company) it is likely that technology will play a key role in the design, construction and operation of the homes that are produced.
It is likely that the first Airbnb houses will be made available in America, the company's home base. That said, given the number of countries in which it currently operates, if the project proves a success, rapid expansion could follow.
Airbnb's traditional business model has already proven to be a headache for local planning authorities (many of whom are losing housing stock to short term rentals, and are struggling to find ways to protect them); so it would be interesting to see how they would adapt to the company's take on residential development.
As modular construction is only now really starting to gain momentum in the UK, after a relatively slow start; I imagine that an even more innovative, technology-led, approach to house-building might require a fair amount of adjustment.**
* Article can be reached through the link below. It is behind a paywall.
** the Planning system is not designed for rapid responses, and is particularly poorly suited for predicting technological change, for a more in-depth post on this subject see: https://imbusiness.passle.net/post/102f608/the-cultural-revolution-the-cla-argues-that-councils-are-overlooking-potential-h
Airbnb has changed the way people travel, becoming one of the biggest disruptors to the hotel trade — and now it is coming for housebuilders. The San Francisco-based home-sharing giant is to start designing and building “affordable” homes from next year, which will “thoughtfully respond” to changing needs over time. The company, which operates in 81,000 cities worldwide, said that the new venture would be called Backyard and “re-imagine the design of homes”, by looking at new ways that they can be built and shared. It is part of Airbnb’s efforts to diversify and keep the business ahead of competitors before a possible stock market listing next year.