Prefab by the Numbers


A new article in Portland Monthly delves a little deeper into the prefab world and discovers some new territory.  For newcomers to prefab, pricing can be quite elusive and this article clarifies a little of that (in particular, page three provides some helpful comparative information).  Some people don’t realize that certain costs may not be factored in the often-cited price per square foot (i.e., transportation, foundation, crane, site contractor, site preparation, permitting and approvals, etc.).  That’s different from a buyer’s understanding of purchasing a home from a builder or developer …

I was also interested to see how many homes certain prefab companies have sold so far.  This is an important indicator, because as companies sell more homes, they may become assembly line oriented and recognize the benefits of various efficiencies and cost savings.  Check the numbers of prefab homes sold:

Of course, these are only a few of the many companies out there innovating in the prefab space.  Other companies include Living Homes, Marmol Radziner Prefab, Blu Homes, Method Homes, Resolution: 4 Architecture, Hive Modular, iT House, etc.  Check out our more comprehensive list of prefab companies (scroll down).  And if you’re interested in green prefab, make sure to keep reading.

[+] Prefabulous: Stylish Living Straight Off the Factory Floor

Photo credit: Thomas Cobb (Ideabox rendering).

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  • Anonymous

    Everyone always compares prefab homes to cars. They say, “You wouldn’t build a car in your driveway, right?”

    Well, a car company wouldn’t bother building 64 cars in 5 years. That’s why modern prefab is still unsuccessful. No one has committed to volume.

    I’m guessing that the minimum quantity that any car company would attempt is about 5,000. That’s how you get your part prices down and save on factory labor per assembly.

    • Anonymous

      Well, while I appreciate your reach for an economic rationale here, I respectfully contend that it misses the mark. There appear to be many reasons prefab is, so far, less than “successful” (or mainstream), but pure volume is the least of their concerns. Quality, COGS and perception (the latter being the biggest challenge) are among the industry’s higher-tier hurdles at the moment.

      • Anonymous

        The people who’ve been interested in prefab since Dwell’s original design contest in ’03 have long since put quality and perception behind them.
        COGS remains as the only reason, and modular companies have no real leverage there without volume.

        • Anonymous

          I actually can’t agree with you on this. Yes, SOME of the folks that have been interested in prefab (for a long time) have overcome these early paradigm issues, but the broader market has not. I’ll contend that today’s buyers in this sector are STILL the early adoptors of the market and, until prefab can message its way past these barriers, volume (therefore COGS) will be elusive.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right. You can’t make the market just by forcing your price down through volume. The other problems you mention must be solved as well. But as with many products, the final cost is the single most important factor.

    A classic chicken and egg problem. At this point I’m just wondering how many modern green prefab companies will come and go before they realize that they must be under $120/ft2 INSTALLED before they have a prayer of surviving.

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