A New Model: The Green Prefabricated Home
Prefab Attracts Designers and Consumers Alike
During the last five years, changes in the economy, skyrocketing energy costs, and the growing understanding that the endangered environment poses a threat to humanity have forced a “time out” for serious reflection on how we are living.
The age of outrageously conspicuous consumption is thankfully over and has been replaced by a sober sense of reason and responsibility. Federal and state legislatures now mandate various green building and living measures, and today there is an increased awareness that building green does not mean adding significant cost. Different pressures – financial and otherwise – have made sustainable architecture a more viable option, especially in conjunction with prefabrication.
The current tight mortgage market makes the financing of cost overruns from building a new home a near impossibility. As a result, prospective homeowners have come to value predictability and avoid expensive time-consuming risks whenever possible. Prefab building systems meet these needs since they are based on streamlined processes and mass-purchased and produced components. They also make the modification of existing designs or the creation of new designs less time-consuming and cost-efficient.
Systems building also reduces waste in the factory (where remnants of larger pieces are often used to fabricate smaller parts) and on-site, saving the cost and environmental aftermath of carting waste to landfills. Overall, the amount of fuel required to deliver components is reduced when they are tightly packaged on one or two trucks, rather than in dozens of small deliveries. Systems producers also often invest in research and development that results in the use of innovative engineered components and sustainable materials. Today, for the first time, there is a real and measured consensus among consumers that prefab houses exceed conventionally built houses in both quality and value.
Architects, seeking to make their services and designs accessible to a broader base of design-savvy yet value-conscious consumers, have turned to the prefab industry to deliver the dream: an architect-designed home, produced efficiently in a factory, sustainably built on-time and on-budget.
Res4 Architects, Marmol Radziner, and Michele Kaufmann have led the way in offering both strikingly beautiful pre-designed homes and custom homes produced in modular home factories and co-joined on-site. While the costs may seem high for those familiar with modular home pricing, in actuality they are more affordable than conventionally built homes designed by architects.
Dwell Magazine shined the spotlight on modern prefabs by selecting a Res4 design as the first Dwell Home, which was built as a demonstration home in 2004 in Pittsboro, North Carolina. The idea was appealing enough to attract over 2,500 visitors on the opening weekend.