The world of prefab and modular homes.
 Entries tagged as 'website'

The OPEN Prototype Initiative (OPI)

Link to The OPEN Prototype Initiative (OPI)

We recently came across an interesting project called The OPEN Prototype Initiative (OPI). It is:

... developing a series of prototypical homes to test a new model for the design, fabrication and assembly of highly responsive places of living.

Founding partners:

More information is available on the OPI website:

We look forward to seeing more from this collaboration.

Related Posts:
   1. Bensonwood's Unity House (Mar 02, 2009)
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This week: new materialicious, responses to affordable green prefab and Cellophane House

materialicious moved from to They've been reposting old content and adding some new content.

Jetson Green's guest post on affordable, green prefabs sparked a few responses around the web. Treehugger's Lloyd Alter concluded:

If Jim Kunstler is right and the American suburban experiment is dead, then there will be lots of cheap labor about and prefab is pretty much dead too- it will never be competitive.

But at some point when the housing market returns and there are banks that lend money, people are going to demand the quality and consistency that comes from a factory. That's why cars aren't built in driveways.

BuildingGreen also had something to say:

Unlike Ludeman, I'm not ready to give up on prefabrication just yet. I still think there's promise in the idea of prefabricated green, especially in the mainstream and affordable housing markets. As for green modernist housing, the benefits of prefabrication may never come through for such a relatively small market.

Inhabitat's Prefab Friday looked at the Cellophane House from info_smallKieranTimberlake Associates:

If its ease of construction doesn’t amaze you, consider the aluminum frame and structural polycarbonate floor plates. Or the easy bolt connections that facilitated the easy assembly and the available built-in environmentally-friendly features, and then you just might be wondering if you covet the ingenuity behind these homes.

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Online exhibition for Home Delivery show

Link to Online exhibition for Home Delivery show

Dwell reports:

...for those who can’t visit the city anytime soon, the museum now has an online version of the show, replete with installation videos, archival footage, and an interactive timeline of prefab housing.

Admittedly, clicking through Home Delivery can’t beat scaling the five structures that now stand in the museum’s adjacent lot. But it’s certainly the next best thing.

The online exhibition takes over the top portion of the blog. It's quite comprehensive; well worth a look.

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A Prefab Project you can rent

Link to A Prefab Project you can rent

We've been following A Prefab Project's construction of a info_smallResolution: 4 Architecture home since near the beginning.

Over a year later, the home is complete and available to rent. It's an excellent opportunity to understand what a Resolution: 4 Architecture home can be. Homeowners Chris and Sarah have definitely put a lot of energy and care into the home, and it shows.

A few guests have been testing the place out over the past couple months. Chris shared some stories:

... all of the folks who have stayed so far have been superstars. John and Laura, our first guests, talked with me for an hour on the phone about their visit, and took copious notes. (And have already booked two more weekends!) Chris and Ritamary chipped in one of those wire brush scrubbers for the grill. Ross and Libby sent along a professional-quality blurb and a fancy corkscrew. And Jake, whose Herculean bicycle trip from Pittsburgh to our cabin really cannot be appreciated unless you are a biker.

Jake documented his bicycle trip to the cabin with a blog and great photos.

Our previous coverage of the project:

where: Lost River, West Virginia
price: $150 weekdays, $200 weekends

Related Posts:
   1. Lost River Modern by Resolution 4 (Aug 13, 2009)
   2. A Prefab Project budget (Aug 20, 2007)
   3. Learn from a Prefab Project (Jul 23, 2007)
   4. A Prefab Project delivery and set! (Jul 05, 2007)
   5. A Prefab Project (Jun 06, 2007)
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The Home Delivery blog is hiding some of their best videos

Link to The Home Delivery blog is hiding some of their best videos

I'm a little obsessed with the progress updates over at MoMa's Home Delivery blog. Not least: several of the videos are great -- but some of their best are hidden behind a proprietary interface.

Try this. In the top right corner of their blog, move your mouse over the image. With luck, a control bar will slide up a bit from the bottom. Click the tiny square icon on the right and notice that the hard-to-read gray text on a light gray background changes. In theory, that means you switched to another video. In practice, it's hard to tell since there's not much action in some of them.

The time-lapse installation videos are definitely worth a look -- though it would be much better if each video was in a separate post that bloggers could link to.

Related Posts:
   1. Home Delivery update: install videos to drool over (Jun 26, 2008)
   2. Home Delivery blog goes live! (Mar 25, 2008)
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Two EcoSteel projects moving along

Link to Two EcoSteel projects moving along
© Steve Cullen - from

I've received an update on a few info_smallEcoSteel projects. There's been significant progress with the house and observatory (pictured above), designed by info_smallGregory La Vardera, that we first covered them about a year ago.

The large project consists of a 7,000+ sf custom home, a "toy garage" and a private observatory. Definitely not your average home! Because of the project's remote location in Rodeo, New Mexico, not many contractors were available. So, homeowner Steve Cullen chose prefab. Some of the advantages:

  • faster build
  • ease of delivery and installation
  • design flexibility
  • strength and quality control
  • eco-efficiency

A number of images of the home's progress, as well as some cool night shots of the observatory are available on Picasa.

Another project, Goshawk Ranch, has its own blog. Under construction since September, the home looks to be moving along. The blog's most recent post shows the newly installed wall panels and front door.

EcoSteel's prefab system consists of a home's steel frame, both interior and exterior, along with exterior wall and roof panels. The remainder of the design and materials are left to the homeowner and local contractors. We discussed the system in detail last year.

This skeleton-and-skin sort of offering is not uncommon. A number of other prefab companies sell similar systems, with a range of additional design help. info_smallRocio Romero's info_smallLV Series homes come without finishes, but with a list of recommendations on finishes and vendors. And info_smallSander Architects design the entire home, but only prefabricate the steel framing.

Related Posts:
   1. EcoSteel Plat House (Jun 05, 2009)
   2. Emphasizing quality not price (Apr 10, 2007)
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Alchemy Architects write a blog

Link to Alchemy Architects write a blog

info_smallAlchemy Architects has had a blog for a while, but just recently, Alchemy's Betsy Gabler has been updating frequently with information on the info_smallweeHouse.

One post covered a not-so-weeHouse in PA:

Owners of the Johnson Creek weeHouse have graciously provided some great new pictures of their 4 box weeHouse in Pennsylvania.

The Alchemy Architects website provides a description of the home (seen above) and additional images:

This 2,200SF 3BR retreat home consists of a larger main unit accommodating most daily activities and a smaller sleeping tower. Both units are connected by an elevated patio bridge component.

A post from last week profiled a weeHouse in upstate New York:

  • process started with Alchemy in October 2007; site work (client started from scratch which means even putting in their own septic and well systems) and preliminary design happened throughout the winter of 2007-2008
  • house is due to be 'set' in Fall 2008
  • floor plan follows the weeHouse side x side PAIR that has two bedrooms and one bath; client added screen porch (great idea!) using Alchemy's additional design services and also worked with their general contractor to customize a walk-in basement...
  • total square footage (including exterior deck and porch) = 1250
  • (06/08): price for weeHouse PAIR in NY is listed at $189K; this house with additional design options/fees is still coming in at under $200K (about $160/SF); additional costs include site work, basement, transportation, and set/hook-up fees (many of these are priced differently by region)

We're still waiting for the Build a wee page to become active. Hopefully we'll see that announced on the blog soon!

Also: there's a weeHouse page, updated frequently, on Facebook. You have to be a friend to see the profile, but you can find it through a search.

Related Posts:
   1. New weeHouse website (Dec 21, 2007)
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Empyrean International launches new website

Link to Empyrean International launches new website

Modular builder info_smallEmpyrean International has launched a new website. We've previously covered their Acorn and Deck Houses and discussed their info_smallDwell NextHouse at length.

The new site features much improved navigation and more detailed information:

Speaking of Empyrean, the Silicon Valley NextHouse was open to visitors last week. Interior designer Sally Kuchar was there and shared stories and photos on her sallyTV blog.

Related Posts:
   1. Tour an Empyrean NextHouse in Silicon Valley: March 27, 29-30 (Mar 11, 2008)
   2. Empyrean's Acorn and Deck House (Nov 16, 2007)
   3. Empyrean and the NextHouse (Apr 20, 2007)
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Marmol Radziner Prefab writes a blog

Link to Marmol Radziner Prefab writes a blog

info_smallMarmol Radziner have a launched a blog:

We hope to post regularly on a range of topics, including the various projects that we currently have in design and production, events around the country, or just interesting articles and ideas that influence what we do.

In the coming months, we’ll be blogging a lot about the Venice House (a.k.a. California House 6). This house is currently in our factory and will be delivered to a small, urban lot this spring. We designed [the] house to respond to the narrow, infill site by having the home look inwards towards small, private courtyard spaces. This allowed us to maintain an open, bright feeling that connects indoor and outdoor spaces despite the small lot.

A recent post discussed putting a concrete floor in a prefab house:

We loved how the concrete floors in the Desert House looked, but we shied away from using them in our first few projects that we produced in our own factory. The Desert House’s concrete were so beautiful, but also so heavy, which made the installation quite challenging...

We'll keep track of any big updates over at the new blog, but be sure to check it out for yourselves.

Related Posts:
   1. The Skyline Series by Marmol Radziner Prefab (Jul 02, 2009)
   2. Marmol Radziner monograph released (Aug 06, 2008)
   3. Tour the Marmol Radziner Desert House before it's sold (Feb 21, 2008)
   4. Marmol Radziner videos (Aug 17, 2007)
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Minarc's M3house and eBOX series 05

Link to Minarc's M3house and eBOX series 05

Santa Monica-based Minarc has a (minimal) new website for their M3house.

We first encountered Minarc last April. Treehugger covered them again in July:

We admired the Minarc house by Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir when it was in Dwell; now we learn that they are offering it in a prefab version. The designers...have wanted to design a high-tech modern home that only used materials "in their most organic form and that used recycled materials wherever possible."...They are offering three modular versions built from 2x6 walls, lots of insulation and radiant flooring.

land+living shared several images of a non-prefab prototype from a tour last year. The Minarc brochure (pdf) released at the time explained their info_smalleBOX series 05. It looks like the M3house will be quite different.

We look forward to more details on the new home. The image above is the only thing on the new site; what a tease!

designer: info_smallMinarc
style: modern
how: complete modules

Related Posts:
   1. This week: Japanese prefab, SIPs, and the greenness of big homes (Apr 14, 2007)
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Last year on Prefabcosm: websites

We covered many informative websites on prefab and modular homes last year. A few of our favorite posts:

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How prefab homes are built in Sweden

Link to How prefab homes are built in Sweden

info_smallGreg LaVardera brings us Letters from Sweden - land of modern, land of prefab:

In my previous entry I introduced Scott, my correspondent from Sweden. An American builder relocated to a suburb of Stockholm, he landed in an alternate reality where modern housing was everywhere, commonplace, even dare I say unremarkable. None of the stigmas or resistance we have come to associate with building a modern house were present. Every builder offered solid modern design in the range of homes they sold, and were more than happy to sell you one. On top of this prefabrication techniques were the norm. Sizable portions of the houses Scott saw being built were put together in the factory...

What did Scott find?

"...the majority of new construction is built like this. I would call the house panelized - but it is "way way panelized" and is a total package. The houses come on trucks from rural places in Sweden. The windows are in, the insulation, wiring, wallboard where possible - every thing - the pipes, the wiring systems, the doors, stairs ... everything has been engineered and rationalized to reduce labor, find energy and material economy and work with the method of construction where stuff is pre-assembled as much as possible inside a building and then "erected" or installed on the site under very compressed schedules...."

Read the full post for Greg's comparison to prefab on this side of the pond.

Related Posts:
   1. The Mountain Lodge in Sweden from PS Arkitektur (Jan 28, 2009)
   2. This week: aluminum from Japan, Sweden, and more (Feb 09, 2008)
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Modular Today Web site

We recently added Modular Today to our sidebar. The site is useful for anyone looking to build a modular home, with information ranging from an expected timeline to a financing guide.

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Live Xtremely Green: the XtremeHomes blog

Link to Live Xtremely Green: the XtremeHomes blog

I wandered over to the info_smallXtremeHomes site the other day and found that they are now writing a blog:

A brief collection of thoughts on the growth of the green building industry. What's real, what's not and what people are expecting.

Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

company: info_smallXtremeHomes

Related Posts:
   1. XtremeHomes: modular building the green way (Aug 10, 2007)
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Howstuffworks on prefab

Link to Howstuffworks on prefab

Howstuffworks features a comprehensive article on prefab homes:

But what exactly is a prefab house? How are the pieces constructed and assembled? How much money does it take to get a house on a plot of land? And what kind of instructional manual comes with the ultimate model kit?

In this article, we'll find out what prefabricated houses are all about.

The article is chock-full of information, with subsections including:
• Introduction to How Prefab Houses Work
• History of Prefab Houses
• Modern Prefab Houses
• Types of Prefab Houses
• Prefab Housing Cost
• Prefab House Construction
• Prefab Around the Globe
• Lots More Information

Publication: Howstuffworks
Length: ~4,000 words
Author: Tiffany Connors
Date: December 1, 2007

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New weeHouse website

Link to New weeHouse website

From the mailbox:

We like to think of weeHouses as being Good+Cheap+Fast, and, along those lines, we hope you'll find our new Web site Good+Helpful+Fast. After several months of painstaking discussion and analysis, followed by several more of crying, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, we feel like we've come up with a site that successfully conveys massive amounts of information, while showcasing our office's playful, creative nature. We really hope you like it! 
Visit us at to check out our new line of standard weeHouses, complete with plans, pricing, and superFancy interactive graphics, or to browse our top-notch custom architectural projects. There's lots of great new stuff to see, do, and learn.

The new site features 360 degree views of all of their prefab models and detailed pricing, based on the region of the country you live in. Coming soon: the ability to build and price your custom info_smallweeHouse.

Jetson Green is a fan:

I love it because you can see houses they've built, projects in planning....If you're looking to get a home, you want to go with a company that's actually built something.

Related Posts:
   1. Pictures of weeHouse settings in Colorado and New York (Aug 26, 2009)
   2. weeHouse for sale in Wisconsin (Aug 04, 2009)
   3. weeHouse for sale in Duluth, MN (Jul 17, 2009)
   4. weeHouse in Continental Airlines magazine (Jun 16, 2009)
   5. weeHouse by Alchemy on display in WI; today and this weekend (May 22, 2009)
   6. weeHouses are now cheaper than ever (and can even power themselves!) (Sep 04, 2008)
   7. Alchemy Architects write a blog (Jun 20, 2008)
   8. New 4x weeHouses join the weeLineup (May 19, 2008)
   9. This week: New Orleans, Austrian prefab, and weeHouses (Apr 28, 2007)
   10. Itsy Bitsy weeHouse (Mar 26, 2007)
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Video interview at OpenHouse NYC

Link to Video interview at OpenHouse NYC

info_smallResolution: 4 Architecture's modernist prefab appears on video:

On this edition of Floorplan, OpenHouse NYC host George Oliphant talks to a homeowner, a homebuilder and a home seller to get the definitive breakdown on how a modular home is built, designed, sold and used.

The video also includes a tour of a more traditional modular home.

Publication: OpenHouse NYC
Length: 4:04 minutes
Date: December 1, 2007

(Hat tip:

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Historic Prefab: How to identify a Sears Kit Home

Link to Historic Prefab: How to identify a Sears Kit Home

For any of you Sears Home enthusiasts:

If you think houses built from kits are shoddy, cheap and obvious, think again. Between 1908 and 1940, Sears sold about 70,000 homes in all 48 states through their mail-order Modern Homes program, with 370 designs that you might not readily recognize as a kit home. Sears kit homes were shipped via boxcar and came with a 75-page instruction book. Each kit contained 10,000 - 30,000 pieces and the framing members were marked to facilitate construction. Many decades later, those same markings can help identify a home as a Sears kit home. So if you're wondering if that adorable little bungalow with the big eaves (or even your own house) is a kit home, read on for signs that will help you identify if it is indeed a historically significant Sears kit home.

Read the full how-to at wikiHow.

Publication: wikiHow
Length: 1,100 words (9 steps)

Related Posts:
   1. Historic prefab: pre-assembled wall panels (Jan 28, 2008)
   2. Historic prefab: Venturo and the Futuro House (Jan 22, 2008)
   3. Historic Prefab: Iron prefab for sale (Nov 02, 2007)
   4. Historic Prefab: Sears Homes (Jul 26, 2007)
   5. Prefabs get demolished (May 07, 2007)
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Tracking the progress of an LVL home

Link to Tracking the progress of an LVL home

While visiting the LV Home Fans Yahoo! group the other day, I happened upon a site I hadn't seen before, Secret Fortress Hideout:

This blog documents the progress of our super-cool, pre-fab home "somewhere" in the wilds of Northwest Arkansas. Rocio Romero designed the home, model LVL, and incorporated our custom modifications.

Recent posts have covered insulation, lighting design, and construction delays:

A few critical path items jumped the track and will push us back about a week.

  1. The stainless kitchen cabinets we ordered from Lasertron will be delayed due to an email mixup.

  2. The heat won't be connected for two weeks, which delays the floor installation.

  3. We found out cultured marble won't work for the tub or bathroom sinks and devised a Plan B (Neptune Zen Soaker Tub and custom-fabricated under-mount stainless trough sinks).

  4. And, last, but not least, the company Don scheduled to prime the drywall bumped us a week.

I guess these things happen in building. It's just wild that they all happened in the last two days.

Like A Prefab Project, Secret Fortress Hideout provides a great first-hand look at the construction of a prefab home.

Related Posts:
   1. Tour a Rocio Romero LVL Home on June 14th in Maine (May 27, 2008)
   2. Rocio Romero's National LV Open House Tour (Mar 04, 2008)
   3. Learn from a Prefab Project (Jul 23, 2007)
   4. The LV Series Yahoo! Group runs the numbers (May 16, 2007)
   5. 35 homes and counting (Apr 11, 2007)
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Homeowner shares modular lessons

Link to Homeowner shares modular lessons

I came across while perusing some news the other day:

This website is for those interested in purchasing a modular home or those considering one and wishing to learn more about them.  I will share my experiences and lessons learned while acting as the general contractor on my modular home in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

When researching modular homes, I found a lot of information supplied by builders or sales agents of modular homes.  I am trying to add another perspective to that - that of someone purchasing a modular home as well as being heavily involved in the planning and scheduling of the project.

Sections of the site include:
background information
a list of modular builders by state
lessons learned
pictures of all stages of the process

The site is barebones, but informative.

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Modern Modular videos on

Link to Modern Modular videos on

TV meets the Web. Bob Vila's website includes a library of short video clips from the show's Modern Modular series.

Modular Home Construction and Site Preparation
Building a Modular Home
A Visit to the Berkshires
Site and Foundation Preparation
Modular Construction Details and Foundation Work
Precast Concrete Foundation Installation
Modular Home Construction Basics
Factory-Cast Foundation Details
Modular Construction, Wiring, and Drywall
Simplex Modular Home Factory Tour
High-Speed Drywall Finishing
Custom Modular Staircase Construction
Interior and Exterior Finishes on a Modular Home
Kitchen Cabinet Styling and Installation
Prefinished Wood Floors in Modular Home
Windows and Board-and-Batten Engineered Siding
Quartz Countertops
Assembling a Modular Home
Modular Home Delivery
Tying Together a Modular Home
Second Floor Module Installation
Preparing the Site for a Modular Home Delivery
Delivery Day Overview
Shake Roof and Stone Facade for Modular Home
Backfilling the Foundation and Deck Supports
Composite Shake Shingles
Titanium UDL Roof Underlayment
Cultured Stone Facade
Securing the Modular Marriage Walls
Master Bedroom for Modular Home
Panelized Cedar Shingles, a Metal Roof, and The Mount
Cedar Shake and Clapboard Siding
Metal Roofing
Edith Wharton'™s "The Mount"
Metal Roof Crimping
Direct Vent Heat and Composite Deck Materials
Crown Molding Installation
Direct-Vent Fireplace Installation
Composite Deck Installation
Composite Deck Railing Installation
Energy Efficient Heat, Column Deck Supports, and The Mount
Exterior Elements on Modular Home
Modular Home Front Porch
Cultured Stone Rear Facade on Modular Home
Exterior Columns for Support and Decoration
Gardens at The Mount
Multi-Zone HVAC System
Tankless Hot Water Heater
Berkshires Architecture, Shakespeare & Co, and Structured Wiring
Interior Tour of Modular Home
Structured Wiring Explained
The Gilded Cottages of the Berkshire Hills
Shakespeare & Company Tour
Elm Court's Shingle-Style Architecture

Show: Home Again: Modern Modular (at
Network: DIY Network
Length: 58 clips (from 13 episodes)

Also worth a mention: Bob Vila has his own blog, On The Level. Check it out!

Related Posts:
   1. More modular on Home Again (Oct 03, 2007)
   2. Bob Vila's Home Again goes modular (Sep 26, 2007)
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Bob Vila's Home Again goes modular

Link to Bob Vila's <i>Home Again</i> goes modular

Bob Vila's Home Again on the DIY Network just finished a run of shows about a modular home under construction. I haven't seen the show, but it sounds like there were some good views into the factory and site process.

From the episode descriptions: Modern Modular:

"Bob Vila travels to western Massachusetts for a brand new project; the construction of a modular home in the Berkshire Hills. He goes to the Simplex Industries factory in Scranton, Pa., to see how the process starts. We talk with owner Pat Fricchione, Jr. about the history of the company, and how the image of modular construction has changed over the years."
Wall Panels:
"Today, we learn about the manufacturing process for the precast panels for the walls. Next, we travel back to the Simplex plant in Scranton Pa., where Bob Vila explains how each module is framed. Back in the Berkshires, the assembly process is explained once the panels have been lowered into place by crane."
"At the Simplex plant, several crews work as if on an assembly line to make fast work of each module. There's a lot happening, from spackle and sand, to insulation, wall and roof sheathing, house wrap, and interior trim. Bob Vila learns about the state-of-the-art wire boxes that are being installed, and we'll look at the staircase that's being built for the front hall from the stair shop."

Simplex is also the manufacturer of the info_smallResolution: 4 Architecture models, like the home featured on the A Prefab Project blog.

A small picture of the home coming together can be seen on the Bob Vila web site.

Show: Home Again: Modern Modular
Network: DIY Network
Length: 13 episodes

Related Posts:
   1. Modern Modular videos on (Oct 09, 2007)
   2. More modular on Home Again (Oct 03, 2007)
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WIRED webcam

Link to WIRED webcam

The WIRED LivingHome we've covered before was first announced back in June. Two months later, the house modules are being installed and you can watch via webcam.

One gripe: I wish the webcam shots were all from a wider angle to show the big picture.

Treehugger's been watching:

"...sometimes watching paint dry is more exciting but then some big module flies in front of the camera."

Jetson Green also tuned in:

"All the main parts are supposed to be complete by September 7, and we'll be able to get a pretty good picture of what the final home will look like."

Curbed LA mentioned the home last Tuesday.

Related Posts:
   1. In the news: WIRED LivingHome (Sep 02, 2009)
   2. WIRED LivingHome still for sale; price reduced (Jun 30, 2008)
   3. Take a (long!) tour of the WIRED LivingHome (Jan 15, 2008)
   4. WIRED LivingHome open for tours! (Nov 06, 2007)
   5. LivingHomes gets WIRED ... for $4 million (Jul 02, 2007)
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This week: prefab concepts, debate, and more

Link to This week: prefab concepts, debate, and more

Equity Green discussed Hybrid Seattle, a prefab company building homes from shipping containers. They also showed off the ATC cabin, a prefab concept from Canada.

A blog simply called "House" covered the Empyrean info_smallNextHouse blog, we've talked about before.

Preston at Jetson Green showed off the Ideabox Prefab:

"Ideabox offers a pretty cool product in the modern, prefabricated housing industry. Ideabox emphasizes good design, not square footage, and they make it easy to do."
He also wrote about the JoT House.

The author at ColumbusING tried to spark debate about prefab:

"Can it be a viable solution? Over the past 10 years the country and for that matter Columbus has been inundated with the "cookie cutter" type of residential building, which has paved the way for convenient and affordable living for some and in the mind of others, has created a perception of architectural character digust. So where does that put Prefab houses?"

A New Zealand blog, Sneak, discovered the WIRED Living Home.

PrairieMod mentioned the blog at A Prefab Project:

"It's an interesting mix of photos, thoughts and information that anyone who dreams of going prefab will find very enlightening."

The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday wrote about the PLACE Houses, a new prefab concept. We'll cover those in more depth soon.

Inhabitat's Prefab Friday examined a student housing project made from containers.

Related Posts:
   1. This week: Ideabox, Method Homes, and unconventional (Jul 26, 2008)
   2. Empyrean and the NextHouse (Apr 20, 2007)
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This week: Zigloo, A Prefab Project, mkLotus, and more

Link to This week: Zigloo, A Prefab Project, mkLotus, and more

Inhabitat's Prefab Friday covers the Zigloo Domestique, a container-based project in British Columbia:

"The DIY Zigloo Domestique integrates shipping containers, personal and sustainable touches, and lots of hard work. Keith Dewey...designed, built, and documented the construction of his Zigloo Domestique home that epitomizes accessible, green, reclaimed, yet comfortable contemporary prefab architecture....

The home is located in Fernwood, one of Victoria's oldest and funkiest areas, and proves that shipping containers are more than just modules for cargo transport or emergency housing. The designer has done a wonderful job of documenting the entire design process, from initial plans to delivery of the containers and final construction and furnishing. The project spans almost two years, and the final residence consists of 8 containers, 1800 square feet, and 3 stories of homey prefab space. Keith's family home design is a great example of shipping containers and prefab techniques as a viable and accessible building approach for just about anyone."

The Good Human's Prefab Wednesday discovered A Prefab Project and likes it as much as we do:
"The blog was started back in December of 2006 with discussions about design and construction, and if you go back and read through the entire thing it is quite a journey....

I for one cannot wait to see what it looks like all complete and ready to go!"

Greenerati anticipates the arrival of the info_smallmkLotus at the West Coast Green building conference:
"It won't solve the housing problem here in the City but when West Coast Green occurs next month attendees will get a chance to tour a 'zero energy' Green home right smack in the Civic Center across from City Hall. Yes, it's a prefabricated house but not that nasty 'Prefab' often associated with temporary replacement for housing during and after WWII."

Green Options posted on the eco-friendliness of modular and prefab construction:

"Prefabrication and Modularity are new eco buzzwords on the menu this year. From homes to furniture, designers are beginning to employ new methods of construction and transportation to cut waste and energy consumption, ensure safety, and achieve greater overall methods of sustainability."

Related Posts:
   1. Shipping container homes in Edmonton (Nov 08, 2007)
   2. The mkLotus show house (Jul 19, 2007)
   3. A Prefab Project delivery and set! (Jul 05, 2007)
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Cool Flickr set of a Flatpak house going up

Link to Cool Flickr set of a Flatpak house going up

Check out these cool photos of a info_smallFlatpak House being built.

(I'm assuming it's a info_smallLazor Office FlatPak though I've not been able to verify.)

Related Posts:
   1. Sausalito, CA FlatPak for sale (Jun 26, 2009)
   2. Lazor Office's FlatPak House (Apr 19, 2007)
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The NAHB on Systems-Built Housing

Link to The NAHB on Systems-Built Housing

The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) site includes a few resources on systems-built housing (yet another term for prefab, modular, or factory-built):

Fast Facts
Panelized Homes (5/24/2007)
Log Homes (1/11/2007)
Modular Homes (1/11/2007)

Panelized Homes: What's Your Type? (10/6/2006)
The Benefits of Panelization (10/6/2006)

Modular Home Photo Gallery

Related Posts:
   1. The top modular builders (Aug 23, 2007)
   2. NAHB Modular Home Manufacturer Directory (Jul 20, 2007)
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Historic Prefab: Sears Homes

Link to Historic Prefab: Sears Homes

(One of the ongoing features that we're adding to the blog: a look back at prefab coverage over the past few years. These historic homes seemed like a great place to start.)

Last May the Wall Street Journal featured an interesting article on the Sears homes and the people who are working to find and catalogue them. The homes are some of the country's very first prefabs:

"About 70,000 to 100,000 of them were sold through Sears catalogs from 1908 to 1940. Distressed that the houses are falling victim to the recent boom in teardowns and renovations, their fans are scouring neighborhoods across the country....

Precut houses ordered from a Sears catalog were shipped by boxcar in 30,000 pieces -- including shingles, nails and paint -- and assembled by a local carpenter or by the buyers themselves. Styles ranged from the elaborate, nearly $6,000 Magnolia, to the three-room, no-bath Goldenrod, sold in 1925 for $445. (Outhouses sold separately.)....

Sears also encouraged sales to families with steady wages but little in savings by financing up to 100% of some of the homes. But many homeowners were forced to default during the Depression, and sales came to an end in 1940.

The mail-order houses, many of which had big porches and were made from high-quality materials like early-growth cypress, were less expensive than architect-designed houses at the time, and were often all working-class people could afford. Because they were typically a family's first home -- and because they were often a do-it-yourself project for buyers -- the houses, enthusiasts say, are emblematic of the American dream.

It's difficult to know how many Sears homes are left. Sears doesn't have sales records, and while interest in catalog homes is growing, many people still don't know they are living in one...."

So, how can you tell? Read the article for details!

And check out the Sears Archives for more information on the Sears Homes.

Title: Historians and Fans Are Racing to Catalog Homes Sold by Sears
Author: Sara Schaefer Muñoz
Publication: Wall Street Journal
Length: 1200 words
Issue: May 15, 2006

Related Posts:
   1. Zamore Homes (Aug 01, 2008)
   2. Historic prefab: pre-assembled wall panels (Jan 28, 2008)
   3. Historic prefab: Venturo and the Futuro House (Jan 22, 2008)
   4. Historic Prefab: How to identify a Sears Kit Home (Dec 17, 2007)
   5. Historic Prefab: Iron prefab for sale (Nov 02, 2007)
   6. 1960s prefab: the Industrialized House (Jun 29, 2007)
   7. Prefabs get demolished (May 07, 2007)
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Prefabrication Laboratory

Link to Prefabrication Laboratory

The Prefabrication Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin has been investigating prefab methods since 2002:

"The Prefabrication Laboratory is a research group...focused on integration of factory production techniques and architecture. Offsite fabrication offers many benefits for building: higher quality, economies of scale, and more efficient use of resources. Prefabrication takes many forms and is evolving rapidly: modularization, pre-assembly, 'off-the-shelf' components....Our research investigates these changing processes looking for points of entry for architects....We look at fabrication in the larger context, how it has been used in the past, successfully or not, and how it affects local environments, cultures, economies."

The lab is similar to Studio 804 at the University of Kansas School of Architecture.

Related Posts:
   1. MiSo House: modular efficiency (Aug 01, 2007)
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Learn from a Prefab Project

Link to Learn from a Prefab Project

I know I have blogged a lot about A Prefab Project, but homeowner Chris has a lot of great advice. He does a great job of documenting and reflecting on the home-building experience. His most recent post chronicles the difficulties of the house delivery and set. I would not want to have been there for the house's trip up the steep driveway to the site:

"So while I watched the house bend (and wondered if it might actually just collapse), I really wanted to scream STOP and make everybody back up and start over, doing all the things we'd talked about doing. But that's a hard thing to know when to do, and an even harder thing to actually do."

Chris offers some advice for any homeowner setting out on a large scale project:

"The one lesson I keep coming back to in my mind from these episodes is the importance of the people you have working for you."

Related Posts:
   1. Lost River Modern by Resolution 4 (Aug 13, 2009)
   2. A Prefab Project you can rent (Jul 10, 2008)
   3. Tracking the progress of an LVL home (Dec 11, 2007)
   4. A Prefab Project budget (Aug 20, 2007)
   5. A Prefab Project delivery and set! (Jul 05, 2007)
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NAHB Modular Home Manufacturer Directory

Link to NAHB Modular Home Manufacturer Directory

Find a modular home manufacturer near you:

"Use this directory to locate modular manufacturers across the country that can deliver your new home! Most modular manufacturers have local or regional representation or a network of builders to put the finishing touches on your dream home."

(NAHB = National Association of Home Builders)

Related Posts:
   1. The top modular builders (Aug 23, 2007)
   2. The NAHB on Systems-Built Housing (Jul 27, 2007)
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Hive Modular blog

Link to Hive Modular blog

info_smallHive Modular has launched a blog to track important news and events.

One post links to a cool Google map locating all of the Hive Modular models in Minnesota.

Another notes that the set process we reported on "only took 2 hours to set the three boxes of the house and the client had a new home by lunchtime."

(Hat tip: Future House Now via

Related Posts:
   1. Hive Modular in historic Minnesota neighborhood (Sep 14, 2009)
   2. This week: Hive Modular, OMD, WIRED, and more miniHome (Jul 07, 2007)
   3. Hive Modular home-raising (Jun 18, 2007)
   4. Hive Modular on YouTube (Jun 07, 2007)
   5. Hives for humans (Mar 27, 2007)
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A Prefab Project delivery and set!

Link to A Prefab Project delivery and set!

The folks over at A Prefab Project are having an exciting time, with the delivery and set of their prefab home.

A post on Friday announced the successful arrival of the module on site:

"After many hours on the road and seven flat tires, our house arrived at the site in WV a little after 6:30 Wednesday evening."

Luckily the module arrived in good condition with little damage:

"Well, good news is the house made it fine. No real issues - some minor drywall cracking, a couple of window locks popped during travel that will need to be replaced (not sure exactly what will need to be replaced - Simplex will let me know). Structurally, the house came through great. Window panes are all intact, the loose materials that shipped inside the box didn't do any damage, and no water got in."

On Monday, the house was finally set:

"No attempt at a witty title - I'm too tired. But everything went great. The set was a breeze. Only really took about fifteen minutes to actually lift, move and set the box (and about six hours to set up and break down the crane)."

Homeowner Chris also gave a detailed and useful look at the foundation work that occurred prior to the module's arrival.

Related Posts:
   1. Lost River Modern by Resolution 4 (Aug 13, 2009)
   2. A Prefab Project you can rent (Jul 10, 2008)
   3. This week: Zigloo, A Prefab Project, mkLotus, and more (Aug 04, 2007)
   4. Learn from a Prefab Project (Jul 23, 2007)
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EcoUrban: green prefab in St. Louis

Link to EcoUrban: green prefab in St. Louis

EcoUrban is a new prefab home builder based in St. Louis. Owner Jay Swoboda keeps track of the company's home projects in a blog.

For EcoUrban's first project, 3140 Pennsylvania Avenue in St. Louis, EcoUrban partnered with modular builder Contempri Homes:

"After what felt like decades of anticipation and wait, it took just six days after the first pieces of wood were nailed together in the factory for the units to be delivered. Our units arrived at 10 AM this morning and the 60 Ton crane that lifted them into place was packed up and gone by 2 PM. We had a nice crowd gather to watch the four "boxes" come together and by the end of the day we were weather tight and secure."

Other posts cover the foundation work and visiting the modular factory.

Currently, the company offers a single 1,600sf floorplan, but "if you are passionate about an EcoUrban Home and not crazy about our floor plan then we will passionately find a floor plan to match you and your lifestyle."

With a focus on green, it's no surprise that EcoUrban "is aiming for LEED Silver certification, at the very least, for all future homes."

name: EcoUrban
style: modern/traditional
size: 1,600-1,850 sf
br: 2-3
bath: 2.5
price: $200,000 - $279,900
method: modules
features: 8'/9' ceilings, Low-E windows, LEED certified

(Hat tip: Jetson Green.)

Related Posts:
   1. EcoUrban modulars in St. Louis Business Journal (Oct 26, 2007)
   2. EcoUrban: update (Jul 03, 2007)
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Shedworking: a new blog

Link to Shedworking: a new blog

It amazes me how many companies offer some sort of modern shed. We've covered prefab sheds and other small houses in the past. Now there's a blog to satisfy your every prefab-shed desire!

Alex Johnsons's Shedworking is "the only daily-updated guide to the lifestyles of homeworkers in sheds and shedlike atmospheres around the world." Not all of the sheds featured are prefab, but the UK site is still worth a look.

The TS1 got an enthusiastic recommendation from Shedworker:

"The building is everything you'd expect from a timber flatpack (modular, customisable, portable, flat packed, renewable, recyclable, and with low emission materials) except it's built around a lightweight Smorgon stainless steel framework and PIR panels made from a fire-resistant urethane foam. It is, give or take a few cms, a 3m cube with adjustable legs and you can add modules together to make it bigger. A solar power system is optional."

Links: Smorgon stainless steel; PIR (Polyisocyanurate) by Stancold

By coincidence, I received an email from Alex while working on this post.  I'll give him the last word:

"I also produce a bimonthly pdf magazine called The Shed for people who work in sheds and shedlike atmospheres. At the moment I am organising the first National Shed Week in the UK in collaboration with"

(Hat tip: Future House Now featured a few models in a recent post.)

Related Posts:
   1. More small prefab: Metroshed (Jun 19, 2007)
   2. Modern sheds, cabanas, and studios (Apr 16, 2007)
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And more yurts....

Link to And more yurts....

I've been reading more about Yurts, and I'm beginning to be won over.

The Yurt Foundation lays out the key advantages:

"The roof structure, with its compression ring and tension band, is an amazing architectural design requiring no internal support system, thereby leaving the yurt open and spacious inside....

Yurts are special because they are portable. Central Asian nomads put their gers up in an hour or less. Modern canvas yurts can be set up in a day. To have a shelter that can be put up quickly and then taken down and moved as one's situation changes is a distinct advantage in our transient culture."

Want to look inside? Pacific Yurts, Inc. features a virtual tour. (Quicktime required: drag your mouse left or right to swivel the camera around in a circle. If you zoom in, you can also move up and down a bit.)

Wikipedia includes some great photos of traditional Mongolian yurts. This French company has even more photos showing the traditional process for making yurts by hand.

Related Posts:
   1. Yurts! (May 28, 2007)
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Nashville Modern Prefab

Link to Nashville Modern Prefab

A blog called Nashville Modern Prefab covers the process of building a modern prefab by info_smallHive Modular. The project is nearing the end of the design/approval stage; recent posts have dealt mainly with permit and zoning approvals and provide a good first-hand look at how some municipalities make building a unique home difficult.

A post back in December laid out the different approvals they would have to receive for the design:

"Metro Development and Housing Agency ....Metro Planning Commission ....The Metropolitan Historical Zoning Commission....The Nashville Civic Design Center...

The upshot of all this seems to be that even with a house that meets zoning (MUN - Multi-Use Neighborhood) and fits the Neighborhood Design Plan for our lot (Neighborhood Urban) we will still need to jump through many hoops to satisfy all of these people just for the sake of making these petty bureaucrats feel powerful."

That post followed a meeting with the Historic Commission that expressed concerns over the home's modern design:
"Initial unofficial feedback from members of the Historic Commission and the Design Review Board mentioned major concerns with: 1 - The lack of a front-facing entrance. 2 - The lack of a front porch. 3 - The materials in general and the metal siding in particular. 4 - The flat roof."

A post in February provided a view of the home's final design. The following is the animated fly-by video of the home's exterior (1:09, no sound):

In April, the home received approval from the Design Review Board:

"...They asked a lot of questions and I answered a few of [them]. Luckily some of the people on the board were able to answer some of the questions for me just be looking at their copies of the plans. The only changes that they require to the design are on the windows for the North side of the house - a larger window in the front upstairs bedroom and one more small window near the base of the stairs. Could have been worse. They approved with conditions so we are ready to actually get started for real."

(Hat tip: Jetson Green covered the site last week)

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MKD Google mash-up

Link to MKD Google mash-up

Jetson Green discovered a unique combo of free internet technologies that helps you to display a home by info_smallMKD on your plot of land. Some of the applications involved, primarily Google SketchUp, require a bit of know-how.

Preston's post inspired a couple others. Materialicious explained why architects should love the "mash-up":

"What a great idea! Rather than bother the architect with endless queries like 'Can we change this?' or 'Can I have that?' or 'I don't like this, take it out', you can save time and money doing it yourself, tweaking the design (within certain limits, to be sure) and then presenting the desired customization to the architect. Makes sense to me."

Treehugger offers additional details:

"Google also offers Google Earth and mashed it and Sketchup so that you can put your Kaufmann design on your own property, play with the shadows and orientation, get comfortable with the plans and elevations before you even send her an email."

See also:
MKD in the Google 3D Warehouse
Other prefab options in the Google 3D Warehouse
Google SketchUp
Google Earth

Related Posts:
   1. Michelle Kaufmann Designs closing (May 27, 2009)
   2. Michelle Kaufmann Designs (Apr 27, 2007)
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This week: more Maison and more treehouses

Link to This week: more Maison and more treehouses

Jean Prouve's Maison Tropicale doesn't go on the auction block until next week. The vintage prefab stirred up a little more press this week. Luxist covered the home and linked an article in the Queens Tribune.

Treehugger brought a couple other treehouse companies to the table:

"If you want to live out your childhood fantasy of moving into your treehouse (and preferably seceding from the family), but a couple of planks slapped together with some rusty nails isn't going to cut it, you'll want to give the able carpenters of TreeHouse Workshop a ring."

Inhabitat's Prefab Friday shared thoughts and more good photos of Richard Rogers' Oxley Park Houses that Treehugger mentioned last week:

"The homes' most innovative feature is the 'EcoHat,' a roofing system that allows hot air to rise and consequently be reused to provide passive solar water heating, thereby mitigating the energy consumption of the house. Clever floorplans optimize natural lighting schemes, while prefab modules and flat-pack components reduce waste and energy..."

Related Posts:
   1. Prefab for the kids (May 31, 2007)
   2. More pictures of the Maison Tropicale (May 22, 2007)
   3. $6 million prefab up for sale (May 18, 2007)
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"Prefab homes" on Google Hot Trends

Link to

On May 24th, the search "prefab homes" ranked 100 on Google Hot Trends, "a list of the current top 100 fastest-rising Google search queries in the U.S." That's A LOT of searches...

Update: After some research, it seems that much of what shows up on google hot trends comes from daily crossword puzzles (that's why the entries seem so strange sometimes). But, a quick search didn't turn up the clue "prefab homes" on any crossword puzzles for the date.

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OMD update

Link to OMD update

When we first covered Jennifer Siegel's info_smallOMD, their website barely worked. I'm happy to report that it's much improved.

The site is definitely worth a visit. It includes details on prefab homes that are completed or in progress. For example, here's a video (4:11 minutes, no audio) of the Pacific Palisades Prefab.

Related Posts:
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The LV Series Yahoo! Group runs the numbers

Link to The LV Series Yahoo! Group runs the numbers
© Jennifer Watson

I just found a Yahoo! Group dedicated to sharing the thoughts and experiences of info_smallLV Series homeowners. LV Series homeowner Gregg started the group in July of 2005:

"Hello. My name is Gregg. I am building an LV Home in Sperryville, VA, about 60 miles west of DC in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains.

The reason I am starting this group is because I have had a lot of questions during this process to which I could not find answers on the web -- the most notable example being the actual cost....I felt it would be a good idea to have a forum for people interested in the home to be able to ask around."

Some of the very first posts had substantive content:
"When I ask[ed] for bid submissions, I insisted on having the contractors do 2 columns: Perryville [Missouri, where the Romero factory is located] and Sperryville [Virginia]. That way, I could see where they deviated heavily from Rocio's estimates. Here are the deviations:

Foundation: +3300 Framing and roof: +5000 Heat, Plumbing, Elec: +1500 Interior Finish: +400

...It fell very close to Rocio's estimate, and I am in one of the most expensive areas of the country."

There have been countless discussions on construction costs, and others about sourcing windows or other products for LV Series homes.

One user, having just finished his LV Home posted a full recap of construction costs, photos and thoughts on the project:

"Note that we did not encounter any big problems during construction. I will say that we were not pleased at all with the costs and do blame our contractor for a lot of the cost madness. But when we solicited bids more than one builder said, "kit or no kits, the cost per square foot will be the same." And that bore out to be true."
(emphasis added)

If you want to build an LV home, this is definitely a must-visit site.

Related Posts:
   1. Tracking the progress of an LVL home (Dec 11, 2007)
   2. 35 homes and counting (Apr 11, 2007)
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