The New Republic recently discussed the plight of prefabricated housing in the United States.
Technologically, there is no reason why houses, like cars, cannot be mass-produced, and in other countries they are constructed that way. Prefabricated, mass-produced homes, like mass-produced cars, offer myriad advantages. Fewer resources, material and labor, are wasted. Weather does not dictate construction schedules. Higher and consistent quality is more easily and reliably achieved, because the product is fabricated in the controlled setting of a manufacturing plant, with all the attendant cost advantages.
Consistent with their political leaning, they call for government to step in:
For quality affordable mass-produced housing to be built, we need to create different conditions for a mass market. A new legislative structure must clear away the obstacles presented by non-standard, municipally controlled building codes and create enforceable national standards for prefab-friendly, environmentally responsible manufacturing and construction practices.
The article is quite long, but worth reading.
Author: Sarah Williams Goldhagen
Publication: The New Republic
Length: 3,887 words
Date: February 18, 2009
Hat tips: Building Systems on February 21, 2009 and Apartment Therapy on February 26, 2009. The latter has an active comment thread, with a general consensus that price remains a major barrier.