We recently received an email from Charles Roig of Roig Associates describing a project he has been working on for 10 years. Designed to withstand "a direct hit from an EF5 tornado or a Category 5 hurricane", it is a housing system called the Strongbox.
The company does not currently have a website, but according to an abstract he sent us, the Strongbox is
a wood system utilizing current technology in the fields of module manufacturing, forged hardware and building trades.
The Strongbox utilizes several factory fabricated lightweight wooden modules used in tandem with each adjacent module, then fastened together as a single unit. The unit is designed to be supported on four points only. They would rest on...raised concrete pier foundations for storm surge areas...or on rails, which are then connected to four piers for mobile home applications.
About the size:
Designed to fit in an interior area of 760 square feet with 9'-0” ceilings, the system can be used as a single module or multiple modules.
One of the biggest problems for Team Germany is the building's transportation. For fast assembly on the National Mall the building is designed [to be] modularized, divided vertically and horizontally into four building modules. To secure the building during the transport, we supported the wooden structure with reusable steel profiles.
Another Solar Decathlon 2009 team: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Their Meltwater House is constructed with 4 modular units. According to their site:
The powerful change-of-state involved in melting the glaciers of the Wisconsin Glaciation Period provided the model for the homes many multi-functional components that adapt to the changing needs of its inhabitants.
The modern style of the home is governed by a modular three-foot grid on which everything connects, leaving the design simple for construction and unifying the interior and exterior with crisp, elegant lines.
The Show-Me House consists of a single module that is 15 by 50 ft (4.6 by 15.3 m). It is capped by a hinged roof, which is roughly 14.5 ft ( 4.4 m) at its highest point. Structural insulated panels in both the roof and walls provide an impressive R-40 insulation value.
Team Boston is composed of more than 150 students from Boston Architectural College (BAC) and Tufts University as well as a handful from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
The primary form of their Curio.House is an L-module. According to the Curio site:
This L-module adheres dimensionally to standard shipping requirements, and can be developed further into a factory-built, prefabricated seed to be easily shipped to any site.
Our house is designed to sit on a rolling rail system. This means we won't have to use a crane on the Washington Mall. Our modules (four in all) will be unloaded at one end of the rails, rolled to the next module and then prepped for connecting before being linked in place.
Rice University's entry in the Solar Decathlon 2009 is the "Zero Energy Row House."
The design of the ZEROW HOUSE adopts the row-house typology, specific to the urban fabric of Houston's Third Ward community as a primary precedent. Our design addresses the small size and limited budget of typical row houses through replication, innovative use of current technologies, local materiality, and an understanding of life-cycle costs.
Instead of building a house just for the competition, the team designed a home they could give back to the community. The team has already negotiated an agreement with Project Row Houses, a local community development organization, to give the ZEROW HOUSE a permanent home in Houston's Third Ward after the competition.
They have developed a proprietary unfolding modular technology that will enable cost savings to be made on Kaufmann designs at the shipping and on-site building stages. Elements that make up the homes such as wall panels are created with hinges so they can be compacted for transportation and unfolded on site. The MK Designs homes will have slightly different floor plans, proportions and elevations from the originals, although, Kaufmann said, the design principles should remain the same.
This house is "Ohio-centric," and uses local materials wherever possible, Whirlpool appliances (an Ohio manufacturer), and reclaimed barn wood on the façade to honor the agricultural heritage of the state.
West Coast Green 2009 will be returning to California in October.
At West Coast Green you’ll find over 300 exhibitors showcasing the latest in resource-efficiency among a stunning array of green and healthy building products. Over 100 experts and visionary leaders will be presenting their latest developments, insights, and inspiration at the expanding frontiers of the field. And over 14,000 attendees including the entire chain of professionals and decision-makers rarely reached by other conferences are expected.
Another Solar Decathlon 2009 team: Iowa State University.
According to the project manager, Interlock House:
[is] a modular construction, with five different components of the house.
There will be three floor components, two of them having walls, one of them having pop-up walls on site...[it] will also have a top portion with two east and west roof modules and a center portion also assembled on site.
So we have the east and west parts [of] the house built ahead of time and the center part built on site with pre-cut and pre-fabricated materials.
The modular design means the whole house itself is also flexible. Multiple units can be connected or stacked with plug-in stairs and entryways to create two-, three- or four- bedroom houses to adapt to the owners’ changing life circumstances.
The green building architect of the casa ti, David Day of David Day Design, will be available on site. Our fabulous contractor, Ron Bernaldo, will also be there so you can ask him [all] your building questions.
The Baltimore Sun recently featured a Habitat for Humanity project consisting of nine factory-built homes in Chesapeake, MD.
According to the article:
Factory-built houses aren't just quick to put up, they're cheaper than homes constructed on-site. Advocates for lower-income residents are realizing that, done right, there's nothing of the much-maligned trailer park about houses coming off today's assembly lines.
Interesting to note:
Habitat's modular-home buyers are getting the whole package, land and all, with no-interest loans from the organization. Including pricey site work but not the cost to buy the land, each house cost Habitat $120,000. When the group built homes from scratch last year in Southwest Baltimore, the construction and site work totaled nearly $160,000 per house.
They include a video (1:54) discussing the project.
A 240-ton crane showed up at 8:30 a.m., and a crew of 20 started work. The wood-framed, fiberglass insulated, Hardieplank modules—already dry-walled, wired for electric, and plumbed—were screwed together, patched, mudded, and…voila! By 1:30 p.m., the house was ready for finish work
The Arizona Republic recently discussed the evolution of prefab homes.
Modular houses, usually built in 14-foot-wide sections and assembled at a home site, have evolved from mobile homes of questionable durability into better-built houses with many of the same finishes and features of standard production houses.
We recently received an email from a company called Shelter-Kit in Tilton, NH.
According to their site:
Shelter-Kit® buildings include all of the materials required to construct a weather tight shell on your foundation: hardware, fasteners, framing, sheathing, floors, roofing, flashing, drip edge and trim.
All kits, except the Barn-House include a standard window & door package. All materials are hand selected, carefully cut to precise dimensions, labeled, and packaged in easily identifiable bundles that two people can carry.
In the past 39 years, over 85% of our kits have been built by people with no prior building experience.
Shelter-Kit offers a variety of buildings and styles:
Method Prefab is the parent company to all method divisions including Method Homes, featuring our proprietary home models, Method Factory, featuring custom prefab work for architects, developers, homeowners and other prefab companies, and Method Contracting, the site construction wing of Method Prefab.
For more information on each division, check out their individual pages on the new Method Prefab site:
Above the concrete base, the house is constructed of Structural Insulated Panels (SIP). These panels are pre-cut and pre-wired to match builder specifications and include the interior GWB finish wall, allowing the house to be constructed by three people in two days, generating significant savings in construction time and cost.
The SIPs are attached to one another and do not require additional stick framing. The structure acts as a shell, is typically 30% stronger than a comparable wood stud home, and allows greater design flexibility.
Preferred Building Systems is the manufacturer of affordable modular homes and luxury customized modular mansions, as well as multi-family homes and apartment units. Our systems built components include modular, panelized and prefabricated modules.
They currently deliver to: NH, VT, ME, MA, CT and RI.
In addition to the new homes for the nuns, the company is developing about 17 acres it's buying from the sisters. The first phase of the project, which ultimately will include 270 residences, is expected to start construction by the end of the year.
They'll be priced from $250,000 to $500,000 and range in size from 960 square feet to 1,600 square feet.
An article in the July/August 2009 issue of The Atlantic mentions efficiency improvements in housing as a way to ease our reliance on carbon.
slightly more than half of the energy consumed in the United States goes to buildings: 12 percent for constructing them, and 39 percent for heating, cooling, and lighting them
According to Marc Porat, "a serial entrepreneur in the 'built environment' sector" and Chairman of ZETA Communities:
“The easiest, fastest, most effective way to reduce energy demand is to hit buildings”
Porat’s Serious Materials makes high-efficiency windows and low-energy drywall; CalStar Cement uses fly ash to make low-carbon bricks and cement; Zeta Communities puts up town houses with minimal carbon footprints.
It was conceived as an attempt to prove that green construction can be affordable if properly designed and executed. The project name came from the target construction cost (labor and materials only) for the smaller of the two homes.
Interesting to note: The 2 unit building (includes the 100k House and the 120k House) has a projected sales price of $200,000 - $250,000.
Subtitle: A “tree house” of clean lines, ample glass, and thoughtful ingenuity lets a Washington, DC–area family and a stream of weekend guests enjoy prefab living in an unlikely locale: just outside Lost River, West Virginia.
The New York Times recently featured a ranch retreat that we covered in April.
Cinco Camp is unlike most other shipping-container structures in that the boxes have been left intact, rather than being cut, contorted and connected. The containers and the bar-grate steel decking that runs between them have the same rusty patina as West Texas cattle guards and barbed-wire fences. Hovering above the house and shielding it from the sun are the five slanted, shed-like covers held aloft by I-beams.
Interesting note: The owner, Roger Black, "was the art director at Rolling Stone in the 1970s, and at The New York Times and Newsweek in the 1980s, is now a publications consultant and a partner of Font Bureau Inc."
See the post for 3 interior photos and contact information.
For those who don't recognize the name: Lloyd writes for Treehugger, sharing some of his prefab expertise.
Lloyd Alter has been an architect ... [a] developer of award-winning condos and townhouses, inventor, and builder of prefab housing with Canada's Royal Homes. He .... is an Associate Professor at Ryerson University teaching sustainable design.
According to Kevin Clayton, President and CEO of Clayton Homes:
Not only will the units be built utilizing the green benefits of modular construction and have energy-efficient features inside of them, but there will also be a recycling program on property, which completes the e-living concept.
The six unit modular building will be built in West Knoxville, Tennessee.
Five of the units will be occupied by families, with one unit remaining vacant to be used as a model home.
They estimate the project will be completed by December 2009.
An elegant and contemporary version of the Lincoln Log House, architects...purposefully stacked prefabricated concrete pieces so that spaces were left in-between, allowing air to flow through the home while still maintaining a feeling of separation between indoors and outdoors.
once the different components of the house were built in the factory, it took about two-and-a-half hours to put them together on the desired spot. Then, for about two weeks the builders finished the walls, laid down the carpets, mounted the garage doors, finished the roofs, and did some final cosmetic work
ibu_revolution is a system for building dwellings from ISO standard shipping containers. It is a scalable manufacturer/dealer/sales force friendly system that yields the maximum product diversity from the smallest part set. It leverages the portability and strength of the ISO units and overcomes the limited width of the modules. This is the way to build dwellings with shipping containers.
These aren't your conventional structural insulating panels. Instead of foam and strand board, Kama...custom-makes the rigid panels out of light-gauge metal studs and a special type of expanded polystyrene called Neopor that's non-toxic, fully recyclable and blended with graphite to lock out heat, moisture and mold.
According to John B. Carnett, the Popular Science staff photographer who is building the house:
They cost me about 5 percent less than a stick frame would have, but they're 60 percent more energy-efficient and can cut heating and cooling bills in half.
The price listed in his specs for the prefab panel box installation is $7.04 per sf.
Carnett claims to be "the first in the U.S to incorporate Kama's new panels."
Each custom-built home is made ... in a controlled environment. Your home is protected from weather and vandalism during the construction process. It arrives to your site about 70 to 85% complete, and in most cases is set on its permanent foundation and locked the same day.
... controlled construction saves time and money. Systems-built home construction allows you to plan, predict and control costs through better scheduling and more accurate planning.
Yankee Barn Homes in New Hampshire designs and builds custom post & beam homes nationwide using prefabricated elements.
We ... construct the wood framed True Wall, and True Roof panels, along with specialty millwork, in the protected, controlled environment of our workshop. We build everything that is practical in our shop, then pack the Yankee Barn for shipment to the site.
The Yankee Barn is raised on site and enclosed usually in twelve to seventeen days depending on the project size.
Our prefabricated approach to building allows our customers to design and build a custom home with all the latest energy efficient options and still manage to save money by shortening the construction time on their site.
LABhaus has officially launched their new line of modular houses called ecoVilla.
ecoVilla homes are designed first and foremost with the environment in mind. Not only do ecoVillas qualify as Energy Star homes and offer substantial LEED points, ecoVilla homes make the most of their immediate environments with vast expanses of glass and direct garden access from all major living areas.
On their blog, LionForce Building Systems recently announced their receipt of a 2009 Green Building Award from the city of San Antonio, TX. Their T-2 ecoLiving prototype won Best Green Custom Home under 2,200 sf.
Last month, the San Francisco Chronicle featured factory-built homes by ZETA Communities. ZETA stands for "Zero Energy Technology and Architecture".
Zeta hopes to capture the market for multifamily townhomes, lofts and apartments that are affordably priced and complement environmentally conscious smart growth
a two-bedroom live-work townhome would be sold to developers for approximately $258,000 per unit, including shipping, installation and mechanical systems and appliances
The Chronicle's blog previously covered ZETA's demonstration home in Oakland.
Interesting to note:
[ZETA] is not intending to do business directly with homeowners. Rather its business model is based on marketing itself to architects and developers by taking existing building plans and figuring out how to build them in modular pieces.
Called a “hybrid” because the house combines prefab with site-built construction, the ground floor of the home includes two large rooms that are built into the foundation of the house. Besides that, the house is entirely comprised of prefabricated modules on the upper two stories.
Inhabitat referenced an LA Times post which mentions price:
$725,000 for module fabrication, delivery and setting; $140,000 for design fees; and $50,000 for engineering .... The cost of the land, site construction (foundation, utilities, plumbing) and permits were not disclosed.
The MetroShip represents 7 years of boat design and planning to utilize unique materials for a houseboat application. I wanted to incorporate the manufacturing efficiencies of our pre-fab buildings (MetroShed) into a luxury aluminum hull houseboat product.
.... most houseboats have lots of windows to let light in – but the result is a very poor looking design. We use transulent thermal aluminum walls....
48ft x 12ft
modern New York City loft style interior
The furniture is all ‘green’ – using recycled frames and remnant fabrics
made by sister company, MetroSofa.
Check out the MetroShip website for more information.
The Skyline Series is a mix and match system of four floor plans that create six unique homes designed for typical urban lots. Available in a range of configurations for one and two story homes. The Skyline series offers high end modern design, eliminates custom design fees and offers the benefits of prefab construction.
While researching yesterday's post about Modular 3, we noticed more prefab projects by Studio 804 at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Students in the program have used prefab since 2004.
In an effort to work as expeditiously as possible, we employ methods of prefabrication, building in modular units in Lawrence and shipping the final product to its final destination. This process limits construction waste, requires unique design solutions, and most importantly, allows students to continue to live in Lawrence throughout the process.
Interesting to note:
All aspects of the building process, with the exception of the licensed trades (electric, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning), are carried out by the students over the course of a single semester. This includes everything from initial design to finished construction and documentation.
We missed this article last fall. Natural Home Magazine featured a prefab home designed and built by students in the Studio 804 program at the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Our design goal was to expand upon our custom designed homes by offering some value engineered green homes that are lower cost to purchase and operate, while still offering a healthy lifestyle and resource efficiency.
Epoch became the first modular home manufacturer in the nation to be certified under the Modular Green Approved program now offered by the NAHB Research Center
The wedgelike shape of the house, the red prefabricated steel frame glimpsed between the slats of two-by-eight-foot pine siding, and the roll-up firehouse doors on the seaward facade all owe a debt to the working buildings of Maine.
The metal frame and wood panels that line the interior were constructed in a barn on the mainland then shipped out by barge. Work crews took lobster boats out to the island each day; the spiral staircase from the main room to the master bedroom was fabricated in a Maine shop; and the granite in the foundation is from Mosquito Mountain near Bucksport. The doors are from Bristol and the builder, Scott Pearson, whom Campbell frequently praises to the skies, is a homegrown Mainer.
We received an email from LivingHomes with a link to their useful overview page. Here are their summaries with links to our updated model pages:
Ray Kappe LivingHomes: LivingHomes by Ray Kappe are the epitome of warm, modern, sustainable living. Each RK LivingHome features floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors to create a superior indoor/outdoor environment.
KieranTimberlake LivingHomes: Our most affordable LivingHomes, the KT line are designed to fit on small, urban lots. The use of decking and light corridors provide outdoor space and natural, indoor light even in the most dense of urban environments. Rooms and entire floors can be added as your living needs change.
The core idea of this project is relatively basic; develop a home design and building system for urban infill lots (in this case, Seattle) that is modular enough to maximize design and construction efficiencies, adaptable enough to respond to each unique site and occupant, and sustainable enough to provide a healthy, environmentally friendly, and energy efficient home for generations of urban dwellers.
Created by Casper Mork-Ulnes, award-winning architect and creative director at Modern Cabana, the Modern Cottage offers an elegant solution for expanding family space in a cost-conscious, fun and sustainable way.
[Y]ou’d think that with [traditional home] prices falling as fast as a brick that prefab housing would be a non-factor, but just the opposite appears to be true. In fact, prefab may play an even bigger role in the housing industry from here on, architects and builders say.
Our homes are manufactured under factory controlled conditions and are delivered complete with all internal and external finishes, ready for assembly. Unlike other modular buildings, our homes can be transported and installed without the need for expensive cranes. Once the homes have arrived onsite, they are assembled and connected to services quickly and easily within 48 hours by our own team of specialists.
Hat tip: Manchester Confidential Property on May 6, 2009.
Green prefab architecture firm Michelle Kaufmann Designs is calling it quits, a victim of the credit crisis and broader woes in the economy. In a letter sent over Memorial Day weekend, Kaufmann told clients the firm would close by the end of this week. She confirmed the news in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
Kaufmann sold the factory last year and in November trimmed the size of her Oakland office to 17. She thought those moves would help see the firm through the recession. But two factories MKD worked with have gone out of business since then, and clients and potential clients have found it almost impossible to get financing.
"Being a small company without significant reserves, that was more head wind than we could bear," she said.
According to the article, she will continue working as a consultant. We wish her luck in her future endeavors.
There's more details in the article, and we expect additional discussion across the industry.
We recently received an email from ma, an offspring of KRDB in Austin, TX. From their site:
When we were searching for a name for our new modern, modular company, we kept returning to the Japanese concept, ma, meaning an interval in time and space, a dramatic pause, the silence between phrases of music. In architecture it is a quiet, neutral space that enhances the whole of a design.
Some news we missed in March: Epoch Homes was nominated for a Small Business Association of New England (SBANE) Innovation Award for its Unique Green Design/Build System.
Interesting to note:
Epoch became the first modular home manufacturer in the nation to be certified under the Modular Green Approved program now offered by the NAHB Research Center, which administers the National Green Building Certification program for residential construction.
Jetson Green recently covered a pilot project in Washington state.
With the sponsorship of the Seattle Archidiocesan Housing Authority and a grant from Enterprise Community Partners, Mithun designed three prefabricated modules to provide a model for affordable housing for farmworkers and their families.
Each of the 3 module designs by Mithun are 580 sf.
Two of the first constructed units will go to farms in Skagit Valley, while the other will likely end up in Yakima. Upon completion, the homes will be publicly available by appointment.
Check out the post for more pictures and see Mithun's project detail page for further information.
We didn't see any information on costs, so it's not clear if the "affordable" part of the goal was met.
Architect Peter Anderson explains that “the floating nature of the design would not have been possible with conventional onsite framing techniques, nor any of the currently marketed modular home designs.” Using a heavy structural steel frame, engineered wood spline beam system, and structural insulated panels, the architects created a truly unique hybrid structural system and, in the end, a home.
The use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) throughout the house helped speed the construction process. Peter Anderson explains, "The panels themselves hang from and rest upon the steel frame and wood spline beam system, which is the link between the steel frame and the panels. The SIPs provide enclosure, insulation, and the spanning capacity to support the cast-concrete floor."
Subtitle: In an unlikely mountaintop locale, Anderson Anderson Architecture crafted a home out of a complex composition of off-the-shelf components, paving new paths for the prefabricated construction industry.
Haven Custom Homes recently issued a press release announcing their receipt of the 2009 Modular Multi Family Award from the National Modular Housing Council (NMHC). The award was given for the design "The Alcott".
The Alcott is part of a new townhome project scheduled to be built this summer at Mt. Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
While researching a post last week, we noticed that we overlooked last year's AIA awards. Here's the American Institute of Architects press release announcing the 19 recipients of their 2008 Housing Awards.
By using prefabricated materials, this house sets a standard for sustainable construction methods. The house comprises a simple kit of parts: glass, concrete block, Glulam beams, structural insulated panels (SIPs), and pipe.
The intended goal was to design an affordable, modern, eco-friendly home that would sell at the same price point as a homebuilder house with comparable square footage. The result was a modular-designed “bar” that sits on a poured-in-place concrete foundation.
The home page of Dwell Magazine currently features a 2005 article about a house in Wisconsin built using SIPs. It was designed by David Salmela of Salmela Architect.
The larger of the two units (which contains the kitchen, dining area, lounge, master bedroom, bath, and screen porch) is 900 square feet, and the smaller (where the guest room and bath, office area, and mechanical room are located) measures 360 square feet. The house, which was finished in 2003, cost $295,000 to build.
The American Institute of Architects 2009 National Convention and Design Expo is taking place this week in San Francisco.
Their "Virtual Convention" is free:
Visit with more than 50 exhibiting companies in their virtual booths. View educational programs, chat with booth personnel, download brochures, and request the latest information on new products and services, all from your Internet-connected computer.
(We didn't see any prefab or modular companies listed, though several of the products may end up in prefab homes.)
Neither source links to the original AIA press release that lists all 17 winners in 4 categories: One/Two Family Custom Housing, One/Two Family Production Housing, Multifamily Housing, Special Housing.
On her blog, Michelle Kaufmann recently shared pictures of an MKD custom designed home in California.
The pictures show
the stunning mixture of the Cor-ten weathering steel [roof] ... and cedar plank siding
From MKD's site:
In addition to our current design offerings, we offer Custom Design services. We design unique solutions for unique sites. Our experience with off-site modular technology, sustainable materials, and smart design techniques allows us to craft beautiful, sustainable homes to suit individual tastes and varying landscapes.
Modeled after the successful Prius Hybrid automobile by the Toyota Motor Company, HYBRID HOUSE is intended to be an electric house completely off the local utility grid.
The central volume is constructed of 12-1/4″ thick structural insulated panels... Not only are the SIP panels self-supporting, the lightweight pre-cut panels require little energy to transport, and are easily assembled with manual tools and labor at the job site. Fenestration and doorways are achieved by cutting holes through the structural insulated panels, and then capping with standard flashed operable skylight and storefront systems.
See the post for details, including several more pictures.
The comments are also interesting, e.g.
Part of being a good architect is not only creating innovative buildings but to also not disrupt the line of vision in a neighbourhood.
Live Edge in West Oakland, CA has an interesting source of wood:
LE uses urban trees which are removed for many reasons: disease, storm damage, danger of falling, or to clear the way for a construction project. We regularly accept usable raw logs from local arborists and salvage some of these trees.
The company builds furniture and prefab houses.
The building process is based on an 8ft. modular plan...The kit is comprised of posts, beams, floor panels, wall panels, doors, roof and ceiling components. It is a finite set of parts which can be arranged in an infinite number of ways. Live Edge produces all the parts for a kit home in our shop, adapted to each design, to be assembled on site.
It’s as easy as A-B-C: start with your favorite Living Module (A.). Add a Connector Module (B), then complete your design by attaching your desired Bedroom Module (C). Its as easy as that! Each module is designed with a universal connector location so they all fit together. You can arrange them in any A-B-C combination you want.
The company will complete its first home in June 2009 in Bend, Oregon. Some background from their site:
We founded Stillwater Dwellings on one primary principle: Quality, prefabricated homes do not need to be expensive.
All of our homes are built off-site, in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. These facilities are climate controlled, and use a consistent, high-caliber workforce of carpenters and tradesmen.
From first contact with us to final cleaning, your home can be "move in" ready in about 3-4 months
ModestHouse utilizes a system of pre-manufactured components such as structural insulated panels (SIPS) for the roof, walls and floor; and FSC certified timber for primary framing. Pre-fabricated building components are assembled on site to save time and materials.
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts recently featured Michelle A. Roberts, founder and creator of EcoHealth Homes.
Her opinion about modular homes:
“They are designed with detailed, engineered plans. And they are made in factories in a controlled environment where there are safe, happy workers,” Ms. Roberts said. “There are some gorgeous mansions that are modulars.”
Besides better quality, she said, modular offers fewer construction delays, a tighter building envelope and continuous inspection throughout manufacturing.
The house is constructed of a modular steel frame. The frame is infilled with prefab thermasteel panels to minimize construction on-site waste. The structural frame is exposed, showing the construction process and articulating the house’s facades. The repetitive modular method, as well as the prefabrication allowed for greater efficiency during construction.
pictures ... though the Contemporist post has a nice selection that loads faster
GreenPods are compact custom modular homes built for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and sustainability. From foundation to roof, inside and out, Pods can be individually customized and furnished to your specifications and individual living style.
They have a complete line of models called soloPODS:
The Structural Insulated Panel Association has a conference in April:
The SIPA Annual Meeting & Conference is the only industry-wide event for SIP professionals. Structural insulated panel manufacturers, builders, design professionals and suppliers of SIP components will convene in Chicago at this unique trade show and conference.
attendees can explore the latest marketing and technical developments in the SIP industry.
(We've covered several prefab and modular homes that use SIPs.)
The News & Observer in North Carolina highlighted a modular hybrid home.
Studio B adapted the prefabricated portions of the house into a simple, striking composition: modules on the ends, a recessed entry space in the middle and a single sloped roof capping it all. Three parts of the house were trucked to the site from a nearby factory and installed in one day.
Spanning the prefabricated modules...is the portion of the project that was built on site: the two-story living area
We found model information on the BuildSense website:
The February 2009 issue of Dwell Magazine featured a concrete prefab in Switzerland by architect Felix Oesch.
it took nine months to build the house using a prefabricated panel system
Each panel is made up of two outer layers of 2.4-inch-thick concrete, which act as the bread of the sandwich. Inside there’s a core layer of concrete as well as seven inches of insulation. This means the panels, which arrived onsite with all the holes cut for the fixtures and fittings, are relatively light and easy to maneuver. Subsequently, construction was a question of fitting them all together like pieces of Lego.
Read the entire article and view a slideshow containing 11 pictures of the home.
Arch Daily recently covered Villa Grow from Sweden:
villas have a common basic unit that can be extended by adding new modules. The angles at the end of each unit allow for different orientations, on which you can have a linear house, a patio house, or an organic layout that opens to the landscape.
The Nehemiah houses in the Spring Creek development are being assembled
in a Brooklyn Naval Yard factory as big as a football field
where construction workers
churn out more than 8,000 square-feet per week on a supersized assembly line for homes. Working in three separate areas, men build ceilings, flooring and wall frames. Cement trucks pour concrete floors while blast machinists drill holes for pipes and wiring. Then, the three components merge as the homes take shape. Beams are established, paint is applied, and toilets are installed.
After tying down any loose parts such as kitchen drawers and oven doors, the 20-by-40 units are shipped by extra-wide flatbed trucks to the East New York site.
On site, a 250-ton hydraulic truck crane lifts the units on top of each other to build the two-, three- and four-story homes.
Founded in the mid-1980s by powerful local preachers as a means to rebuild East New York, the Nehemiah Housing Development Fund Co. is the real estate arm of East Brooklyn Congregations. In 20 years, they built and sold more than 3,000 homes with a foreclosure rate of less than 1%.
Read the entire article for more information, and see pictures of the units on the Capsys website.
The housing crisis and concern over our earth propelled her to gather green building energy-system and design partners to help other eco-conscious individuals achieve their green goals. She wants to help other people like herself find affordable, green housing solutions.
The company currently has two models available.
Both kits are bare bones: you get beautiful design and structure (SIPs exterior walls & roof, and design documents) and you will need to finish the house with a local contractor.
Eco Structures is the brainchild of John Garlow, who has been building timber frame homes and using structural insulated panels (SIPS) out of his own workshop since the late 1970s. Several years ago, when it became clear that the green prefab housing market was ripe for liftoff, he decided to put his many years of prefabrication expertise to use with a new “green” twist. He designed and built a prototype modular Eco Structure on his own property and a new company was born.
The target price ... is approximately $150 - $175 per square foot.
The Baltimore Sun reprinted a McClatchy-Tribune article about The Pennywise House.
It's part consciousness-raising effort and part marketing campaign for his house plans and a coming line of modular homes that will be based on them.
The houses ... [will] be based on the vernacular architecture of 10 regions of the country, which he thinks will help bring character to their environs.
He hopes his "Pennywise House" proposal will draw attention to the benefits of returning to those traditional architectural styles, with updates to make them livable today. Those styles developed and became popular because they were adapted to the local conditions, he said - deep porches in the hot South, for example, and piers in South Carolina's Low Country to raise the houses above the moist ground.
Here are the details of "The Simple Cottage Sampler" line:
A completely self contained concrete service pod.
It is a permanent and cost effective housing unit which can assist in the rebuilding of the fire devastated town-ships of Victoria.
The robust pre-fabricated concrete structure has been designed to be built upon, but in the short term acts as a habitable starting point for the building of a new home. The units can be prefabricated, delivered and connected to services rapidly allowing families to begin the process of re-building without displacement from their communities.
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.
Unity House, the second home designed and constructed by Bensonwood Homes as part of the groundbreaking Open Prototype Initiative (OPI), has achieved LEED Platinum designation, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating for environmentally sustainable construction.
The house is "the new residence of the Unity College president Mitchell Thomashow and his wife, Cindy." They have a blog about the house.
The Small House Movement has been around for years, encouraging people to think about how much house they really need. But lately it has attracted more attention. “It seems like a perfect convergence of a bad housing market meeting a bad economy and more awareness about global warming,” claims Jay Shafer, an enthusiastic advocate.
The article mentions 2 companies, both with prefab options:
We are so deeply pleased that the Museum of Science and Industry has decided to extend the Smart Home exhibit’s run through January 2010! Having closed on January 4th, the exhibit will reopen its doors on March 19th, ready to share even more new ways, big and small, that people can lead eco-friendly lives.
Well, there are three advantages [to prefab construction], which are the issues that play out in every building. There's always this issue of design or style, the issue of cost, and the issue of time. And what's exciting about factory-built or prefabricated systems is that all three of those become possible -- better design, less time, less money. And that's really the holy trinity in the design world.
Read part one and
part two of the interview. (The post embeds the USA Network video that we covered two days ago, but the interview is their own.)
The Character Approved Awards honor the characters of the U.S.A. who are changing the face of American culture. Character Approved honorees are innovators in their field who influence our opinions, our style, and our view of the world. They surprise and inspire us with fresh ideas. They are celebrated by their peers. And they have an authentic style that's all their own.
AIA Newark and Suburban challenges the world’s most innovative thinkers and designers to re-invent the box with their most inspired and creative utilizations of shipping containers as the primary construct of an urban multi-family mixed use project.
It's not often that the terms "prefabricated home" and "modern architecture" are heard together. But a young architect in Missouri has spent a decade figuring out how to bring low prices to the realm of high design.
Listen to the broadcast (3:35) via the player at the top of the article, check out their slideshow, and read the accompanying article.
Modular home buyers now have a wide choice of fine features that rival those in stick-built homes, from tray and vaulted ceilings, to granite and marble tiles, carpet to wood flooring, maple or cherry cabinets, beadboard and paneled wainscoting and high-grade insulated windows.
The Mountain Lodge is a modern take of a traditional barn of the region in Härjedalen, Sweden. The Lodge comes as prefabricated wooden units. It was originally designed in 2005 by architect Peter Sahlin for his own family, as a vacation retreat in the fells of Härjedalen. Five houses have since then been produced in the region.
The construction consists of a wooden framework and prefabricated wall- and roof elements.
Additional images can be seen on the architect's website, which has minimal information in English.
... the oh-so-adaptable R-House. Intended as a vacation home, it is constructed nearly entirely from Accoya, a new ’species’ of sustainably-sourced wood designed for ultra-high performance and class 1 durability. Rotating walls slide around the exterior of the structure to keep sun and wind coming and going in all the right places. The house has both passive and prefab qualities and is built to be configured and assembled on-site.
The designer's website offers numerous images, but no information about size or price.
BrightBuilt Barn, a project that pushes the envelope of sustainable design, is the practical outcome of an in-depth collaboration between a team of the Northeast’s top green professionals and builders, and a visionary client coming together to create a super-green, offsite fabricated, and beautiful Net-Zero building that can be replicated and adapted over time.
The system is based on a translucent 10'-cube module which can be stacked in multiple floors and units for residential and commercial purposes. Made from concrete, steel, and luminous fiberglass daylighting wall panels, the system can be fully erected in 90 days at a cost starting at $100 per square foot!
Project Frog ... uses modular building to offer affordable enviro-friendliness — [Mark Miller, the company’s chief executive officer] says its buildings are 25 percent cheaper than traditional construction, though more expensive than normal modular buildings... "I think it’s a huge and neglected part of green building," said [Miller].
The article listed a number of advantages of modular construction, including:
- each piece of the home can be specially designed and fitted, using materials produced with the least environmental impact for maximum energy efficiency and health
- each component — the kitchen, the wiring — can be tested for quality in a factory away from the wind and rain
But also recognized the many challenges: (some we agree with, others we don't)
perception of being cheap and ugly
Americans generally remain skeptical about the quality of buildings
standardization can be a drawback ... because most people want to custom build
limited by relatively few modular building producers
difficulties transporting the sections to some tightly packed areas
nature of the housing market, in which most people remodel existing homes, rather than build new ones
Miller is hopeful despite the current housing market:
I can almost guarantee you that at the end of this, green building will still be around, and will probably be kicking up even more, and modular will still be around and be kicking up even more.
Read the whole article for more details, including interviews with:
The New York Times follows up on the Resolution: 4 prefab in the Bronx that they covered back in February.
After years of living with their son in a 900-square-foot bungalow, Regina and Bill Marengo wanted a bigger place.
Ms. Marengo, a civil engineer, hit on the idea of ordering a prefabricated house. If it could be built in a factory and transported to the site, she reasoned, the family could trade up with minimal disruption.
Which proved to be true:
[the] Marengo’s move to their relatives’ house in Morris Park, the Bronx, lasted only four months; with on-site construction it would have been far longer.
The Marengos said they paid about $200,000 to Simplex and slightly more than that to Northside Construction.... For designing the house, the firm Resolution: 4 Architecture received 15 percent of the overall costs.
A few weeks ago, the Aspen Times featured a number of high-end modular construction projects happening around the Aspen, CO area.
some modular home companies...“can make those [modular houses] look like all the other fancy custom homes in the valley,” and in certain cases they can do it quicker and for less money, according to Steve Bossart, a project manager with the city of Aspen who is familiar with ongoing studies into modular technologies.
Binary has also created small SEED (pods) as an alternative form of affordable dwelling for that segment of the global market that cannot qualify for a traditional home.
(SEED = Small Energy Efficient Dwelling)
The Archinect post also briefly discusses another prefabricated element the studio is developing:
they are producing ceramic blocks, based on the thermodynamic strategies of barrel cacti and termite mounds.... Vollen and Clifford will manufacture the blocks themselves. They hope that these materials will soon be available in new homes.
Like many prefab homes, the seed(pod) is based upon the idea that families can purchase a smaller home and then add on to it with modules as they need more space.
On October 27, 2008 Treehugger shared a skeptical view of small, affordable housing:
Such a lovely story, and a lovely design too. There are just a couple of problems with incremental design that so many in the prefab world have tried to solve: 1) Land ... 2) Laws ... 3) Price per square foot ... 4) Banks.
Martha Denly of Green by Design was impressed by Michelle Kaufmann's white paper on "nutrition labels for homes". She had a few questions which Michelle Kaufmann was kind enough to answer.
Of particular interest to Prefabcosm readers:
I’d like to challenge the commonly held belief that the initial cost of a green home is always higher. It [may] be safe to assume there’s an average premium for green (you use $1-$2/sq. ft.), but is a premium necessarily the case? Have you seen any examples of green homes that were equivalent in upfront cost?
...I think it’s time that green builders take a (smart!) page out of the cookie-cutter suburban developer’s handbook and start incorporating some of that tried-and-true streamlining into their own practice. Of course, green builders need to take a more sustainable approach, but being able to mass-produce green homes will go farther than anything else to get rid of the green premium.
That’s exactly why we use prefabricated modular construction to produce our homes. It not only allows for reduced costs, but also reduces timeframes and construction waste (as much as 50 to 75 percent less than with conventional homes). It’s helping us to get closer to achieving our mission of making thoughtful, sustainable design accessible to all.
A recent article at Forbes.com looks beyond the current downturn:
When U.S. housing recovers, the leading homebuilders may not be the ones to benefit.
Humble creators of manufactured housing. Not only are these low-end homes more in keeping with the spirit of the times than mutant McMansions, they look much better than the double-wides of yore and subsidy-happy Uncle Sam is about to include them under the aegis of its favored lending programs.
According to the article:
Starting in April , the Federal Housing Administration is increasing loan limits to $70,000 from $46,000 when only the manufactured home -- and not the property beneath -- is being financed.
FHA loans are becoming hugely popular:
...because they are essentially the only low-downpayment loan offering available...There is no income ceiling or credit floor on an FHA insured loan. A borrower just needs to come up with a 3.0% downpayment and prove sufficient income to pay back the loan.
We previously covered the difference between manufactured (HUD code) and modular (regular code) homes.
Don and Kristie Kinsey know firsthand the devastation a hurricane can cause. When Hurricane Katrina demolished their house in 2005, they decided to invest their insurance money in a home that would withstand future storms. After extensive research, the Kinseys chose the Boulder, Colorado-based company Spirit Cabins...The Kinseys were even more pleased with their decision after Hurricane Ike ripped through their Bay St. Louis, Mississippi neighborhood, destroying the area. Their home had survived fully intact.
Spirit Cabins combines old world craftsmanship ... with modern production technology in our state-of-the-art facility to produce fully assembled modular log homes and cabins... [They] deliver on-site nationwide completed modules customized to your needs that require little finishing work.
Recently, Boston Magazine featured an article about the VH R-10 gHouse on Martha's Vineyard.
Because he couldn't be on-site every day, [Petrucci] decided to use a premanufactured structural insulated panel system built in a factory in New Hampshire and shipped to the site to be erected..."Prefab panels are a single stroke solution for structure and insulation, and they go up fast," says Petrucci. In fact, it took just three days to get the entire structure up.
Also worth noting: Petrucci is the director of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University.