The world of prefab and modular homes.
  September 2008
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Conscious Choice looks at the prefab market

Link to Conscious Choice looks at the prefab market

This month's Conscious Choice, "an enlightened urban lifestyle magazine," examines Prefab 2.0 in a recent article:

Judging by magazines, museums and word of mouth, you might think we were in a prefab housing Golden Age.

You’d be wrong — but not by much. Yes, prefab housing is getting more attention than it has for decades. And yes, beautiful prefab homes are on display at museums and design exhibitions. But just because they’ve built them doesn’t mean homeowners are coming in droves. Instead, only about 100 homeowners live in prefab homes in the U.S....

(One quibble: the estimate of 100 is only true based on a narrow definition, e.g. modernist prefab built in the last few years. We take a much broader view of prefab.)

The article included several profiles from around the US:

Chicago, Illinois

Prefab is an interesting idea and like any good academic, Chris Conley wanted to put the theory to a test. So when he and his family set out to build a weekend home in Libertyville, they decided to be their own guinea pigs.

Designer: the homeowner, Chris Conley

Venice, California

The one-story house has turned out to be the home of their dreams. The house came out on time and on budget.

Designer: Jennifer Siegal of info_smallOffice of Mobile Design

Seattle, Washington

He was so convinced prefab was the future that he and his partner Bill Shepherd bought some land on Whidbey Island to try one out.

But if his experience is any example, prefab may not yet be ready for prime time.

Designer: info_smallRocio Romero

New York, New York

Logistically, they were hoping that building the house in the factory would save time and money. But it didn’t quite work out that way, says Morrow. Getting the permits and doing the finish work, like building a screened-in porch and attaching the four modules to one another, took the same amount of time as any other house.

Designer: info_smallResolution: 4 Architecture

San Francisco, California

"We wanted high-quality and enduring style," says [homeowner] Haney. "What we weren't prepared for was the quality of the house. I have built several houses and this is by far the best quality home I've ever lived in. It's fabulous. When you build on-site, there's little quality control. The individual contractors are all supposed to do their jobs, but the overall aesthetic is almost left to chance. In a factory, you have quality control at every step."

Designer: info_smallMichelle Kaufmann

Read the full article for additional details.

title: Prefab 2.0
subtitle: Is prefab housing ready for primetime?
publication: Conscious Choice
author: Heather Boerner
length: 1,500 words
publication date: September 2008

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