A Golden Hill company hopes to cash in on the drive for energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable buildings by making construction panels of polystyrene sandwiched between sheets of wood-like material, kind of like an inedible Oreo cookie.
“It’s like a sandwich,” said Gabriel Grossman, CEO of the company, Preflex. “It hits all of our objectives and vision of building low cost, energy efficient, sustainable homes.”
Preflex also is entering the ADU (accessory dwelling unit) market by offering prefabricated buildings made with its panels.
“We’ve got predesigned floor plans, or we can work with the client to design a floor plan customized to what they want,” Grossman said. “We will be your point of contact. We will work you through the whole process.”
That includes getting permits and, if necessary, helping to arrange financing, Grossman said.
Contractors trained by Preflex “will install not just our package, but full turnkey it, ready for the homeowner to move in or lease out,” Grossman said.
An Oceanside condominium project, scheduled to start construction later this year, is also on tap to use Preflex panels – the first multi-family project to incorporate the panels in its construction.
“We’re at the design stage with Preflex now,” said Chris Hall, president of Hallmark Communities based in Solana Beach.
The panels would be used for the interior and exterior walls of the project, which would have 3,300 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor with three floors of condos above that.
Hall said the project is an infill site and using Preflex panels requires fewer workers than conventional construction and is faster.
“Simple things like parking and even construction noise is drastically reduced when a lot of the building is fabricated offsite,” Hall said.
Grossman said that other projects in line to use Preflex panels include an Encinitas duplex, a Golden Hill four-plex, and an ADU in Escondido.
Grossman and his partner, Leopoldo Hirschhorn, formed Preflex in 2019 “with the idea of finding a solution for the huge housing crisis that we have and this climate crisis at the same time,” Grossman said.
Preflex operates primarily in California, although Grossman said it has a few clients in Nevada and New Mexico.
The panels are manufactured in Tijuana then shipped north for delivery to construction sites.
“It streamlines the construction time for the builder and allows the consumer to move in sooner,” Grossman said.
Using the pre-cut panels has the added benefit of producing little if any construction trash on the jobsite that has to be disposed of in a landfill, Grossman added.
Because the panels are cut to fit at the factory, Grossman said “there is no trash hauling, because there is no waste.”
Once a project is finished, the panels reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool a building in half, Grossman said. “These homes are like living in a giant cooler. Compared to the other insulating materials, it is much less contaminating. This material has zero formaldehyde.”
Hall said that another consideration for him is that the panels reduce noise inside a unit once it’s finished. “Sound is something you’re always trying to lessen, and their system is really good at keeping the sound down,” he said.
Grossman said it takes one day to frame a building using Preflex panels, compared to two to three weeks for conventional construction. “That is a very big savings. You finish your job three weeks faster.”
Headquarters: Golden Hill, San Diego
Founder and CEO: Gabriel Grossman,
Founder and President: Leopoldo Hirschhorn
Business: Manufacturing, sales of structural building panels and high performance and accessory dwelling units.
Notable: Preflex targets the next generation of home builders, aiming to build the smartest, healthiest, most cost-effective homes anywhere.