photo by Michael Miller

Littleton Company Builds Bathrooms-In-A-Box

By Eileen Kennedy
Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Woe is the construction company that uses the wrong shade of mauve tile when constructing bathrooms in a new hotel.

Even more minor mistakes, like the wrong hardware, can cost builders thousands or even millions, as exacting property owners demand perfect bathrooms. And that's where Littleton-based Eggrock Inc. comes in.

Eggrock's product is a "bathroom-in-a-box" that brings assembly-line thinking to the construction industry. Founded in 2004 by Jeff Barrett, the company recently raised $2.5 million in venture capital from Keene, N.H.-based Harbor Light Capital Partners. The money, according to Barrett, will help Eggrock expand into the hospital and military markets after getting its start working with large hotel chains.

"We were really intrigued with the team and they already had 20 or so successful projects by the time we talked to them," said Rich Upton, an investment manager with Harbor Light. "We found they were really the only player in the U.S. market that was doing this type of construction."

Change Orders

The impetus for the company's creation, according to Barrett, was that large hotel projects almost always have problems constructing bathrooms.

"Everyone had a bathroom story," he said, recalling one builder who experienced a three-month delay because the wrong faucets had been installed.

European and Japanese companies have been offering pre-built bathrooms for several decades, so Barrett knew the concept was sound. In 2004, he opened an office and was the only employee, and by 2006 the company was delivering bathrooms.

The company recently won a contract to provide the bathrooms for a $6 million, 500-bed hospital expansion at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, British Columbia, Barrett said.

And they may break into the military market soon -- their bathrooms are being considered for use in new U.S. Army barracks, Barrett said.

The lack of quality in bathrooms built on site is one of the big reasons that hotels, and now hospitals and the military, are interested in buying Eggrock's bathroom-in-a-box.

When projects go up, workers from eight trades have to follow each other to complete the bathrooms. If one trade person is absent or makes a mistake, it can have a cascade effect that puts the project behind, he said. If tubs and sinks go in early, there's a risk that they will become scratched or more heavily damaged before the building is finished, Barrett said.

Even when a project is completed, the "punch list" of outstanding problems usually contains more than 50 percent bathroom-related issues, Barrett said.

In Eggrock's 60,000-square-foot Littleton facility, the construction process is broken into steps. In one area, tiles are applied to the flooring while in another area walls are assembled. While the walls are going up, the wiring is completed outside of the structure.

All the pieces for the walls are precut, including cutouts for electrical boxes and plumbing, so workers can just put the pieces together, Barrett said.

(Article originally published on Worcester Business Journal's website, WBJournel.com.)