Prefab Isn’t What It Used To Be

The history of prefabricated homes in the United States dates back to the early 1900s when companies like Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold more than 100,000 homes out of its catalog.  Prefabricated houses were inexpensive because the panels were constructed in an assembly line fashion, with the skilled carpenters, plumbers and electricians all in one factory rather than on site.  The lower cost of these homes, around $2500, meant that more middle-class Americans could afford to build a home.  Eventually prefab homes fell out of favor, partially due to the government imposing stronger building codes for design, construction, fire safety and energy efficiency.  However, in the past couple decades innovations have allowed manufactured home designers to cater to an increasingly upscale market with modern, “green” prefabricated homes.

This 4,500 square foot home in beautiful Oregon features one side made entirely out of translucent and transparent panels to take advantage of the views.  The other side is surfaced with recycled metal panels that provide privacy from a road and decreased construction costs.  The metal panels will eventually rust and the red color will resemble the red rock mountains nearby.  The interior is finished with renewable bamboo cabinets and bamboo and stained concrete floors.  The construction cost was $130 per square foot.

This custom modular home was erected on a lot in an existing urban neighborhood.  Three story homes from Method Homes range from 1592-2335 square feet and have a base price of $211,736.

Another Oregon home, this prefabricated home evokes a 1950s look but it’s anything but inside.  This 2300 square foot home has 12 ½” pitched ceilings and no interior supporting walls.  The rear of the home features 13” windows in every room.

Factory built homes aren’t just available for single family homes.  LivingHomes, based in Santa Monica, CA, has “installed” a multifamily property in San Francisco, CA featuring six townhomes with 2 bedroom floor plans.

This green home on the border of Joshua Tree National Park was manufactured by Blu Homes for Time Disney.  The home was “unfolded” on site and reportedly uses 50% less energy than a typical home.  Interesting fact: this home is actually two of the company’s “Origin” model joined together.