Prefab Fab - This ain't yer grandma's double-wide

By Andrea Karim on 4 May 2007 (Updated 9 June 2007) 3 comments

Are prefabbed homes the wave of the future? Judging from some of the magazines that I receive (Sunset, Metropolitan Home), it sure looks like things are heading in that direction. I stumbled across an ad for Modern Cabana, a company that makes an environmentally smart answer to that toolshed that your Uncle Jim used to use as his home office because Aunt Arlene wouldn't let him have the garage. Seeing this stylish little structure got me thinking about all the prefab designs that I've been leafing through over the past couple of years.

Prefabbed homes are great for a number of reasons: they are easy to put together. They have a lower cost per square foot than most built homes, even tract housing. They are increasingly environmentally friendly, using low VOC-emitting and sustainable and/or recycled materials.

I was reading about the cost per square foot for some of the prefabbed homes - even with all the fixins, most homes come in at under $200 per square foot, and most of them at much less than that. Of course, you have to add the cost of land and a foundation to that, but even at $300 per square foot, that still about $100 psf cheaper than anything in the Seattle or Bellevue areas.

Modular housing comes in all shapes and sizes. The Katrina cottages that were such a media sensation following the flooding in New Orleans and Missouri in 2006 have proven that good things come in really teeny packages.

Tree Hugger has done a nice job reviewing a number of ecologically sound, modular homes. Click to read about the Flatpak House, Glide House, and NowHouse.

This very excellent site contains links to just about every modern prefab housing company out there.

I'm particularly fond of the tour that you can view on the Living Homes website, narrated by the CEO, who is either quite charming, or has a great speech writer (warning: audible tour begins immediately).

I've seen the Loft Cube in a number of magazines before, and it totally feeds my desire to live on the very top of a tall building.

I'm not sure if these homes will take off in America - are they the answer to the McMansion, or is prefab simply another version of the fast-and-easy experience that we've come to expect from life?

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Jessica Okon's picture

Is the tornado factor for these rigs?

From the heart of trailer country,

Jessica (who had every class her freshman year of high-school in a trailer, except PE)

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Zachary

Even prefab homes start at a quarter million where we live! Time to leave this county, and maybe even the state!

Andrea Karim's picture

The Katrina cottage sleeps four and is roughly 30K. I don't know about hurricanes and tornadoes, though.