If you follow the prefab movement or have an interest in these homes, I recommend reading Todd Woody’s recent profile of Blu Homes in Forbes. Blu, which is planning a second factory north of San Francisco, uses software, engineering, design, and technology to make sustainable homes attainable to more people. They’re a “technology company that builds homes,” according to co-founder Maura McCarthy.
We’ve seen teams around the world doing great things with shipping containers, or intermodal steel building units (ISBU). That said, even carefully designed projects seem to have challenges. ArchDaily, in a recent article called The Pros and Cons of Cargo Container Architecture, said: “Shipping container homes makes sense where resources are scarce, containers are in abundance, and where people are in need of immediate shelter such as, developing nations and disaster relief.”
Cascade Built just announced a new single-family home in the Madison Valley neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. “Alley House 2” was designed by Seattle-based David Foster Architects and is currently under construction by Method Homes in an off-site factory. The project team is seeking LEED Platinum certification with completion set for about October 2011.
The Exo looks like some sort of space station, but it’s actually a clever housing unit for emergency shelter situations. A cargo truck can carry about 15 of these — packed in two pieces, the base and upper shell — and a team of four can move and set one up in under two minutes. When assembled and connected, Exo has lighting, climate control, wall outlets, and four fold-down beds.
The prefab industry has changed a lot in the last few years. Case in point, ZETA Communities, a producer of net-zero energy multifamily housing came on to the scene in the beginning of 2008. In something like 3-4 years, they’ve built up a lean manufacturing facility with 91,000 square feet in Sacramento that’s just incredible.