Before Buying a Prefab [Blogging NYT]

PrefabArtWeb by Nancy Doninger

Over the weekend, I noticed another good article in the NY Times by Amy Gunderson, with the above illustration by Nancy Doninger.  The article makes some salient points about prefab, things that must be considered before getting into it.  For instance, one customer said "there is no substitute for seeing a house in person," because what you see online or in a rendering, may not be what you actually get.  The same customer opted for Rocio Romero, and the home took 10 months to build at a cost of $300 psf (including installation and finishes).  That price ends up being pretty decent, when compared to the cost of going after a custom-design modernist home. 

The world of prefab is growing serious legs and new entrants come about all the time.  It’s important to determine whether they’ve built something and try to walk through it, or if they haven’t, to decide whether you’d like to be the guinea pig.  CEO and Founder of LivingHomes, Steve Glenn, hit the nail on the head: "There are a lot of designers doing computer renderings, but the number who have actually built homes is very small.

Prefab design firms all differ in the services they provide.  For example, Marmol Radziner Prefab designs and builds homes in their own factory and can act as a licensed general contractor.  Their designs start at $235,500 for a 660 sf home (not including delivery or foundation).  Another company, Hive Modular, sells homes in the price range of $140-200 psf (including delivery, but not including changes to plans).  But Hive Modular, unlike Marmol Radziner Prefab, has relationships with 10 factories that can produce their homes.  These homes arrive at various levels of completion; for example, the Nebraska factory will deliver homes 95% complete. 

So the gist is, before taking the plunge, it’s important to consider a prefab design firm’s style, options, location, pricing, capabilities, and experience. 


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