World demand for prefab green homes is looking to reach 3.4 million units by 2019. It makes sense. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful, environmentally conscious, modern home with proven performance? Let’s take a look at five modern prefab home kits.
Prefab Home Packages for Hospitals
When a fire destroyed Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) staff housing in a remote part of British Columbia, no one was surprised by the plan to rebuild. But its location on rugged Campbell Island—where most of the 1,500 people living on the island belong to the Heiltsuk First Nation and it’s not uncommon to see whales swim by—made access to supplies and construction crews tricky. Add to that the decision to go from LEED to Passive House standards, and the undertaking was no small feat.
But it was all accomplished in just nine months by using a prefab home package with design supervision from Mobius Architecture.
“A prefab structure taken up by barge presented a very quick and cost effective way to efficiently meet what would be needed in Bella Bella,” says Glen Garrick, sustainability manager, transformation and innovation for VCH. “In the end, the project was completed at a cost of $2.6 million—about $500,000 less than it would have cost to construct the development onsite.”
Cheap Modular Homes from Ecocor
Ecocor focuses on the design, manufacture, delivery, and assembly of high-performance Passive House buildings, reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling by 80 to 90%, cutting construction waste, and shortening time-to-occupancy since its inception. Although they didn’t begin their prefabrication process until 2013, in just three years they’ve built more than 35 passive homes. And they’re looking to scale up to 50 or 60 passive homes a year, owner and technical director Christian Corson says.
In the Ecocor factory, panelized walls, floors, and other components are fabricated with the latest technology in a highly controlled environment, and much of the construction waste is reused in other projects. That means reduced waste and reduced time-to-completion, all cost savings that can be transferred to the customer, making these types of cheap modular homes even more accessible.
Prefab Green House from Phoenix Haus
Anton Cech, a native of northern Germany, emigrated to the U.S. in 1926 and built a successful company from the ground up with almost nothing to his name. Seeing a growing need for a marriage between Passive House and high-efficiency, low-cost prefabrication methods in the building industry, Cech’s children and grandchildren started Phoenix Haus in 2011. Their goal was to influence the construction industry and create innovative, healthy, environmentally conscious buildings.
Today, they’re doing all that and more in the heart of the old American manufacturing industry in Detroit, in a 1900s factory that once served as a stamping plant.Now project manager at her family’s company, Kate McDonald says Phoenix Haus is projected to complete six to eight homes in 2017 alone, which will be their first year of production, and interest has skyrocketed. “Solely from organic growth, without major marketing or PR campaigns, Phoenix Haus receives inquiries almost on a daily basis from around the country.”
A typical prefab green house from Phoenix Haus is between 2,500 and 4,000 square feet and one to two stories. McDonald says their market is mostly middle-income, with ages ranging from 26 to 55. But in 2017 they’re hoping to roll out pre-drawn template designs that will offer off-the-shelf yet customizable homes that are even more affordable and practical.
Prefab Modern Home Kits from Square Root
Armed with some lessons learned after designing Chicago’s first green prefab modern home, the C3, Jeffrey Sommers of Square Root Architecture and Design created version 2.0—a hybrid approach to prefab that draws on the best parts of both modular and on-site construction. “This house was a case study on how and why to build better,” says Sommers. The project received EnergyStar and Indoor AirPlus certifications and was third-party tested for a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score of 43.
The house was constructed with a structural insulated panel (SIP) system. Generically referred to as a flat-pack, this system used to construct the exterior walls and roof forms a highly insulated thermally broken building envelope with minimal opportunities for air and water infiltration. Although this form of prefab requires more onsite construction, it’s a hybrid approach that takes advantage of the better qualities of both prefab and onsite construction, and minimizes transportation and erection costs of the prefab units. “It allowed for lower shipping costs, lower craning costs, and the ability to work within the city’s requirements for on-site inspections,” Sommers says.
Cottage Style Manufactured Homes
Henry David Thoreau once spent two years sequestered in a house by the famous Walden Pond. While the idea of living in communion with the natural world has always dazzled us, such solitude has the potential to be quite lonely. Enter Rick Sommerfeld, founder and director of Colorado Building Workshop—the design build program at the University of Colorado Denver—who recently led 28 graduate students in the completion of 14 micro dormitories set in a gorgeous lodge pole pine forest outside the city.
Besides being crafted to handle its snowy environs, the micro dorms were also built with materials selected for their durability and low maintenance. “There was a want from both the client and the students to create something they didn’t have to paint or refinish,” says Sommerfeld of the hot rolled steel exterior. The interior, set in warm birch plywood, will stand up to wear and tear for wilderness activities. “If someone is throwing an ice ax around, it’s much more durable than drywall would be.”
In step with this approach was the overall efficiency of the building process, from budgeting (about $9,000-$10,000 per cabin), to prefabricating the wall pieces in Denver and then flat packing them for their voyage to Leadville; to using nesting software for the cabinetry to avoid wasting a scrap of wood. “It allows us to apply any leftover wood to the next cut automatically,” Sommerfield says. “It’s a more sustainable approach.”