Bridgette Meinhold

INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Prefabulous + Sustainable Author Sheri Koones

by , 01/30/14


book review, prefab, prefab construction, prefab housing, sheri koones, prefabulous + sustainable, sustainable building, green design, eco design,

Tucker Bayou, WaterSound, Florida

Typically, on Inhabitat, we call a prefab home one that is mostly manufactured in a factory setting, but Koones expands the definition to include any home built with prefabricated materials. While she certainly has a valid point, we couldn’t but help question a few of the homes prefab qualification. Regardless though, the book was great fodder for our prefab obsession and a good book for anyone out there looking for good examples. The homes were beautiful, thoughtful and definitely not cookie-cutter by any means. We also had a chance to ask Koones a few questions about her book and her thoughts on prefab construction.

Q. You’ve authored a number of books on architecture and design, how did you get so interested in prefab construction? Any personal experience with it?

When I was remodeling my own house about 13 years ago, I had no knowledge of construction. Being an avid researcher, I took out of the library every book I could find on the subject. Since I wasn’t able to find the information I felt I needed, I decided that when I was finished building my house, I would write a book for other homeowners with all the information I wish I’d had before I began my own construction. I spent another year researching, and then my first book––From Sand Castles to Dream Houses–– was published. My next book was House About It, with chapters on roofing, siding, windows, doors and so on. I also included a chapter on various types of construction, which inspired me to pursue this with my next book––Modular Mansions. During this period I was invited to watch a friend’s modular house being set in my town. I was totally mesmerized as I watched a large section of the house lifted with a crane and set on the foundation. The next day, I was invited back to walk through this absolutely beautiful house. The setting of this house was magical to me and I was really hooked on the concept. I am still amazed every time I have the opportunity to experience a prefab house being erected.

I began to be interested in additional types of prefab construction and later wrote Prefabulous. Many of the homeowners in that book were incorporating sustainable features into their home designs and that made me think seriously about how important it is to conserve energy and build more healthy homes. Prefabulous + Sustainable has been a labor of love; the houses in the book all inspired me and made me so optimistic about the future of construction. In recent years, I’ve grown more and more committed to preserving the environment, preserving our natural resources, limiting our energy use and considering ways of making home environments healthier.

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11 Comments

  1. TrueNorth April 15, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I am particularly fond of the smaller footprint homes, that truly make a green statement. Of the ones shown from the book, Michelle Kaufmann’s design really appeals. Of course there are elements of the others that appeal also. I have always had a soft spot for timber frame, and Brian Fuentes timber frame rises to that.

  2. catb22 April 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    my dream green house is a home that utilizes all of its space in a functional and stylish way. Having it be prefab helps with the house being constructed with the least amount of waste, sustainable wood and other eco-friendly products. All products used in the house would be natural if not biodegradable, with wind and solar energy, as well as man-powered energy for small appliances. A small water treatment to make water from cleaning the house and from showers be reusable. The backyard would be a vegetable, fruit and legume garden to help with sustainability. Trash would be recycled and compostables would be used in the garden. So which prefab house seems to be able to do the trick and be my dream home? I would have to say Huf Haus is beautiful, energy efficient, spacious(which although it may be seen as not green, it is needed when you have kids and pets)and uses sustainable wood (and uses remaining wood for its energy!) Thanks!!!

  3. vreiners April 15, 2010 at 11:20 am

    My dream home is the net-zero Bright Built Barn. Just love it!

  4. brownbagcomics April 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

    To choose one style of prefab over another is hard, but regardless it needs to be comfortable and livable for myself and likewise my family, as I want a small collection of these homes surrounding a round drive-way much in the style of a small town. This would allow me to live with my parents and siblings close together and yet with enough privacy to escape each other after heated “Games Nights”! I really can’t wait to see what this book has to offer to me as inspiration!

  5. dstandard April 15, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Having witnessed several transformations and updates to the pre-fab industry, I believe that the latest design directions for this approach to living environments inspire me. I have so appreciated the tight fits and the low waste created during the construction of these new designs for this approach fits into the attitude- \\\”tread lightly, disturb little\” upon the land we build.

    I so appreciate writers and professionals that locate, document and photograph great examples of architecture and building types. I look forward to curling up with this one.

  6. swichi293 April 14, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I’m looking to build, I don’t want to buy. My dream is to be able to build a house and have every detail of the house work just for me. A prefab is an awesome way of doing this because you can structure the house to move for you while remaining cost efficient.

    My prefab dream would be sustainable and add energy back to the grid while being made of healthy materials like carpets without harsh chemicals. In terms of design and layout, it would be modern with a lot of wood and steel. It would be designed to be livable and promote “organic” movements from one room to the next. I refuse to live in a house where you say how much easier life would be if something was moved just a few feet.

  7. bagelpower April 14, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    My dream prefab home is a container home that incorporates 7 shipping containers that span an open distance in the middle. Well insulated for high energy efficiency and finished off with reclaimed and reused materials that include salvaged wood, beams, tile and metal. And hopefully we will be starting on this prefabbish dream house this year. Nothing better than reusing and repurposing what you have into a beautiful home. Though it will be weird to say our home was made in China!

  8. lriobueno April 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    my dream home Michelle Kaufmans prefab is

  9. ecokat April 14, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I agree with Sheri, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love Michelle Kaufmann’s homes and Hive designs along with many other prefab & sustainable homes. But each site has a home which it would be best suited for so when I get lucky enough for the greenest home, I’ll decide then. can’t wait to read this book, hope it will be in many libraries, working hard on the Reducing “R”. Any word on if it was printed on recycled paper &/or soy ink??

  10. ChristianAce April 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    My view is something more along the lines of the FabCab, I think houses need to be smaller and use the space more efficiently without having things that are unnecessary and without losing comfort. Although we need to live in a way that does not take anything away from others, now and in the future, here and in other countries, people plants and animals. It should feel safe and yet allow to those living inside to feel apart of all that is outside. It should still be aesthetically pleasing and energy/space/resource efficient.

    I want a prefab! But if I can purchase an already built semi-efficient home make it efficient with technology and lifestyle changes and urban farming then I would love that as well. But work on PreFAB and I want to read this book!

  11. peterchanws April 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    My prefab dream home costs $150 per sq. ft. It will generate more energy than it consume (including charging electric car). The main structure can be easily replicated by others so that there will be many more this type of home in the world. However, details of the home can be easily customized to fit individual taste.

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