Prefab. Prefab. Prefab. If you’re interested in the green building movement, you probably get pumped up when the usual rhetoric–green benefits versus money savings versus factory-built convenience versus design premium versus modernize-the-building industry–kicks in. I do. Prefab, which includes the modular and the panelized varieties, is an interesting industry phenomenon. So, I wanted to share Amy Gunderson’s newest NY Times article, which I thought was very well-written and thoughtful. I will say, however, as a warning: this article walks on the edge of conflating prefabs with manufactured homes (actually, it pretty much puts them in the same boat and then parses them out by explaining the differences), but I think it’s handier to deal with prefabs and manufactured homes in separate discussions. For example:
In the article, it is explained that Adrienne Shishko + Joel Sklar retained the popular Resolution: 4 Architecture to put the 3,000 square foot home on their vacation property. Not a bad choice, I might add. The modules are built in a factory and the home arrives at the lot roughly 70% complete, you just need to put the parts together + do the finish out (electrical, plumbing, drywall, painting, appliance installation, etc.). The firm’s average building price comes out to $200-250 square foot, which is lower than a comparable, custom-built home, which averages $300-400 square foot. The home has the potential to get built faster, assuming the permitting goes smoothly, and it qualifies as a residence (unlike mobile homes). Plus, factory built homes incur less construction waste. One additional caveat, shipping modules is not cheap (@$8,000 per module, I’ve seen) + so there is that pollution premium to think about, but … this is an exciting industry for the future of building. Art by Nancy Doniger.