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GREEN GUIDE TO PREFAB: The History of the Mobile Home and Its Influence on the Modern Prefab
Architect Marmol Radziner’s prefab Desert Home
Prefab as a Modern and Green Option for Homeowners
Today, prefab is no longer simply about saving money – it is also a system for producing personalized homes while still providing predictability and confidence in a process often fraught with surprises. Modernism and green design share a common creed: the efficient use of materials, time, and economic resources.
Building green is a twenty-first century extension of modernism’s mandate of environmental and economic responsiveness. A contemporary home is not modern if it is not green. A prefabricated house enhances its green credentials through numerous efficiencies in resources, labor, money and the time inherent in its building process. Buyers interested in a prefab housing design project must ask the tough questions. They need to explore the methods utilized by producers to respond to personal, societal, and even environmental priorities.
Where to Start: Understanding the Basics
When it comes to your own purchasing decisions, don’t look for a magic bullet. Ask yourself a series a questions such as: Is there a higher quality solution, or a less costly, faster, more enduring, or greener solution? As you begin your exploration of alternative housing approaches, recognize from the start that there are likely many excellent solutions. But before diving in head first, you should take a moment to go through the following exercise:
Make two lists of your priorities:
List one: The first list should describe your vision qualitatively — do you want your house to be funky, glassy, modern, warm, super green, and energy-efficient? Also include all programmatic essentials – whether it’s a room for your elderly parents, a ground level owners’ suite or a home office with a special views, list them all.
List two: The second list should be process related. Ask yourself: do you want to work directly with a designer or work from an existing design? When do you want your home to be ready? What are your budget limitations? Do you want local assistance in planning, builder selection, and permitting, or are you planning on going it alone? How much time can you invest in planning?
After completing each list go back and prioritize everything you’ve listed starting from the essential to the desirable. Take your time and collaborate with all stakeholders, young and old. This exercise sounds simple, but trust me, my forty years of direct experience with clients suggests otherwise. A project this important and a process this complex requires discipline. In the heat of decision-making, having clear-headed, prioritized criteria will be invaluable as you explore and determine which options are most responsive to your needs.
Your Road to Prefab Home Ownership
The next three parts of this series will explore the three different types of “clients” that are served and satisfied in every successful project. I will also explain which form of prefab typically satisfies each of the three clients. I hope this will help you on your way to a successful homebuilding experience.
One last thing – if I were a brain surgeon I wouldn’t consider operating on myself, nor would I be comfortable with a surgeon performing their first surgery on me or a loved one. Unless you are an experienced professional, don’t undertake this endeavor without seeking the proper guidance. Experience matters. Prefab producers who have endured the current downturn (and prior downturns) offer stability. Survival is the result of continuous improvement and innovation and in all likelihood, working with these kinds of companies will result in a product that endures as well. The journey to a green prefab home is far more likely to reach a satisfying destination when you are guided by experienced, local professionals who can facilitate every aspect of design and planning, and make the most of your time and money.
Lindal Cedar Homes is the world’s largest provider of quality custom cedar homes. Founded in 1945, there are more than 50,000 Lindal cedar homes—and satisfied homeowners—worldwide. Known around the world for their signature post and beam building system, quality building materials and detailed craftsmanship, their experienced Lindal Cedar Homes dealers will help you each step of the way.
Michael Harris is a MIT graduate with two degrees in architecture. Michael has made it his professional mission to innovate system-built design and the planning process to ensure fulfilling client experiences. Michael spent 31 years at Deck House Inc. working with clients, designing new products, innovating client-centric sales process and marketing, and was involved in the acquisition of a competing brand (Acorn Structures). He led the company as CEO and served on its Board of Directors for 15 years. In 2006, Michael joined Lindal Cedar Homes, working with executives, staff and dealers to build a new strategic plan, then implementing the plan as President and CEO. Today he works as an independent consultant and dealer (testing the efficacy of the plan by” walking the talk”).
While at Lindal, he led the company’s entry into the modern market; forged a collaboration with Dwell Media initiating Lindal’s participation in the Dwell Homes Collection; and created the Lindal Elements program, a new line of on-system designs and process he designed with the company’s creative staff. He brought the iconic industry player to become the first “Green Approved” building system by the NAHB Research Center and the only single family home included in TIME Magazine’s Green Design 100 in 2010.
In addition to selling and consulting, he serves on the Board of Advisors of Blu Homes, writes on the subject of manufactured housing, and enjoys life with his wife Carol, splitting their time between Seattle and their family’s home base in New York City.
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