PREFAB FRIDAYS: Rocio Romero’s LV Home

by , 01/13/06


Many of our readers have commented lately that some of the recent prefab, modular, and kit housing projects that we have written about do not address real living – whether in the context of lifestyle, environment, or price. This week’s Prefab Friday is dedicated to you; your concerns are not lost on our ears! We easily agree that many of the projects we have profiled do not reflect the initial rationale for utilizing prefabrication as construction process. For those of you concerned that the true spirit of prefab has gotten lost in all the hype – check out Rocio Romero, the original queen of affordable, practical prefab.

Rocio Romero’s first LV Home started in Laguna Verde, Chile, five years ago. What began as a vacation home for her parents became the prototype for her LV Home Series, founded on her belief that modern living should be an affordable and deliverable product. At 1150 square feet, the LV Home has two bedrooms, two baths, and an open living plan. And the cost? The basic package, which contains wall panels, structure, and cladding, will run you about $32,900. Once finished out, this clean, modern box totals around $87 per sq-ft.

The LV Home kit provides you with materials for the exterior envelope. You (or your contractor) will still need to supply the foundation, roof, windows, and the interior finish out. Neither plumbing nor electric lines are included, allowing for the home to be constructed in adherence to local building codes. Leaving these materials out also ensures that the entire kit can fit on a single truck. And yes, the cost of these additional materials will add up, however the price is still quite reasonable. For a complete LV home, including transport, labor, site preparation, finishes and equipment, Ms. Romero estimates that it will run just under $100,000. If you desire something larger than 1150 sq-ft, you can combine two LV kits, or you can upgrade to the LVL model.

It sounds like a lot for the buyer to be responsible for; however Ms. Romero provides exact specifications for how to complete the home, making it relatively simple for any good general contractor. Alternatively, a buyer who is experienced in construction can assemble their own LV Home. (testimonials are available on the website from those who have purchased and built LV Homes, or had them built by a contractor.)

Ultimately, Rocio Romero is all about making it easier to live in a modern environment, without making it more expensive. She encourages potential buyers to visit the prototype LV Home in Missouri and offers near unlimited consulting services to accompany her home sales. As she says, “You need to not only design but actually be directly involved with the building of the homes. It is the only way to work through every single detail, and modern design is all about the detail.” In addition to her LV Home series, Ms. Romero is developing her “Camp” series, which is a smaller dwelling for recreational use, or as she calls it, an “adult’s version of a tree-house.” The very cool Fish Camp utilizes a similar prefabricated panel construction system.

While it is true that many current prefab projects seem overpriced or underdeveloped, we would like to stress that some of these projects are academic in nature, conceptualized and (sometimes) built for the sake of opening a dialog and expanding one’s notions of what housing can be. Others are not yet able to take advantage of manufacturing potential and thus have not been streamlined to be cost-efficient. However, without the multitude of projects that are in development, none would ever become mass marketable. Rocio Romero has proved that it is possible, it can be done well, and that the possibilities are endless.

+ Rocio Romero
+ LV Home Series by Rocio Romero

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  1. Contemporarycaprice October 10, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    I <3 Rocio’s Designs.

  2. creditmanagementworld June 18, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    This is a very very nice home. I saw this home featured on The Travel Channel. But, remember a few things, this is strictly a weekend home. The space is so limited, that it would be impossible to actually spend any kind of real time there. Also, it appears that the closet space is limited. If you to to Ms. Romero’s website, you will see a total lack of dressers, vanities and chairs in the bedrooms. Even beds seems to be a bit cramped. I mean, let’s get real here…we love to see those neatly laid-out, modernist homes (rooms resembling something we used to see on the original Star Trek series), but in reality, most of us accumulate a lot of “stuff” and we always require someplace to put that stuff. The 3 bedroom model would mostly likely be the minimum that folks would need, as they could convert one bedroom into an office/den/work area. Also, let’s not forget the lack of a garage here. One of the views you will have is of your vehicle parked outside the place (unless you think you will be magically teleported into the place). And when you get out of your car on a wet or snowy day, just be prepaired to almost undress outside the front door, so you don’t track the rainwater, snow, slush into the pristine interior.

    Again, a great weekend home for those that have at least 5 acres to build on (for privacy’s sake). I’ve love to have one myself, and someday maybe I shall.

  3. CDLee21 May 13, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    If you go onto the Rocio Romero website, some of the homes listed in the projects section have price breakdowns. While some are on the expensive side, others that involve more hands-on work from the owners are much more reasonable. One is even under 100k if i remember correctly.

  4. Inhabitat » Rocio... March 28, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    […] until fairly recently, Rocio Romero fans could only visit a fully realized public version of her enormously successful LV prefab in […]

  5. Dr. Stephen Gatlin December 20, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Who owns the houses in the northeast? Any list with contacts?

  6. claudia September 8, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Also, at what incline is the roof? Someone needs to build a home with a roof that collects the water so it can be recycled (not a gutter).

  7. claudia September 8, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    I love the design, but am curious as to the ‘solidness’ of the structure itself. Anybody building one here in Michigan? I guessing that if one has a builders license, they can do much of the work themselves. I’ve built two homes with family in the past… I’m pretty handy. Anyone out there do some of the work on this prefab themselves???


  8. Linda June 30, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    I forgot to add that I found when talking with the retailers for pre-fab homes that they offer financing as they often have a relationship with banks in your local area already. Ask a lot of questions about the terms of finance and check out as many different retailers as you can in your area.

    BTW I don’t belong to the Manufacture homes assoc.All this stuff I’m saying is what I’ve learned in my search to build a reasonably priced home in my area which is Vancouver Canada.

  9. Linda June 30, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Prefabricated homes are also known as Manufactured homes. They have been around for a long time now, I’m talking 30year and more depending on your definition of Manufactured home because it also includes mobile homes. If you do a search for Manufactured home association for your state or province they’ll have retailers that sell pre-fab aka panel homes in their directory. I’ve done quite a bit of research in my area and it’s been very interesting as the costs can vary wildly depending on the “finish” you want for the interior. There’s also the issue of getting permits to move the pre-fab homes through the city or town to your location but I’m guessing it depends on where you are building your home as I live in a densely populated area.

    It looks like we’re going to go with a double wide mobile home as it’s the most economical way for us and we have the land to put it on as well. Also I have to admit mobile homes have come a long way from the stereo types we have seen in the past, I’m quite impressed with what I’ve seen.

  10. Stephen June 1, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    I’ve heard that prefab waste is waay less than traditional stickbuilt, making it inherently more eco friendly. On Rocio’s website, they have info on improving snowload, so I’d assume they’d do fine here in MI … I’m really considering one of these for a new build … I think they’re awesome!

  11. Enoch Throckmorton II April 4, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    I live in the midwest. Does the LV Home hold up in the winter? Will the windows hold heat? Are there any located in Michigan? Near Ann Arbor? My wife and I are interested.

  12. Elizabeth H. February 6, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    It is almost impossible to get financing for this home, believe me, I have tried. If anyone knows of a possibility let me know.

  13. Michael Donaldson January 26, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    I am a studying architecture in NYC, and her LV home is my precedent or my case study. I like her house because of the abundance of windows that literally lets you see around the house while still inside. I think another thing is that if you wanted a bigger one you can probably put two of them together with the garage in between. Her LV home will be one of the houses that revolutionize modern living. Especially in the US.

  14. Mike Manegold January 19, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Are you available in South Africa?

    Kind regards

    Mike Manegold

  15. Wing January 14, 2007 at 12:19 am

    I chanced upon Rocio’s site yesterday, and at first I was smitten by the design she came up with. I was particularly intrigued by the seeming lack of roof, which makes her building such a standout (in residential designs, that is).

    Upon further investigation however, the pricing on the website can be deceptive. The website clearly states the skeleton is what they’re selling, but I think it is disingenous of them not to include the most difficult aspect of the construction — the roofing system — in their kit pricing. Yeah, you’ll get a shell … but’s it’s going to leak 😉

    The photos look great on their website, and I’m sure just as well in the pages of architecture digest, but practical livability … ? Unless you’re an exhibitionist or buy a farm with lot’s of acrearage, you’ll be having some severe privacy issues and winter heating bills, even with double-glazed windows. I think if she had gone easier on the windows (e.g. do you really need a sliding-door in each bedroom, and one more in the living room in a 1500sq-ft home?) and used more SIP panels, this would have been a more practical design. Light is good, but a fish-bowl is not necessary a relaxing sanctuary.

  16. Bruce January 10, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    If one can act as the general contractor and is adept as a DIY, then this pre fab seems to be an affordable solution. The design seems quite adaptable for both the interior and site. I am a little concerned about the way the roof drains through the exterior skin and the faux wall. This home can work well for a difficult site where a modular pre fab may be difficult because of access. The architect obviously has not only design but also built these and worked through the details of construction. I wonder about how to create a more green solution.

  17. Inhabitat » PREFA... November 15, 2006 at 1:31 am

    […] Not all prefab is created equal. Some, like Rocio Romero’s LV Home, are made for middle-income, modernist loving homebuyers. Others, like Ray Kappe’s Living Home, are a super high-end version meant for the well-off client. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Cubo Arquitectos‘ prototype for emergency shelters – definitely not the most permanent home around – but by far, a true take on building “prefab.” […]

  18. Charles November 12, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    One chap just posted his bottom-line for the the LV Home on the forum and it’s quite frustrating to see this prefab home costing the same as new home construction. I was attracted to the LV Home for design/cost, the cost being very important because my funds are limited. I still like the design very much but have yet to see evidence there is any savings over new home construction.

  19. home October 25, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    This is a great post, I really am enjoying your blog. Just thought I should say you’re doing a great job

  20. Max September 21, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    The kit is under 40k. Construcitng it is not. The estimates on the yahoo LV Newsgroup put it at between 150 and 225 a square foot. One owner of the LV basically said that the cost was the same as new construction and he bought it solely for the design. Rocio ROmero says on her site that consturction costs vary by area. Not sure whether it’s ecofriendly.

  21. Inhabitat » Blog ... August 28, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    […] Yes, the Living Home is expensive. Look at it! I can’t believe it’s under $2 million; this is the Cadillac of current prefab designs. Don’t knock it on approachability and affordability, because that’s definitely not the target market which Kappe was designing for. This “product” offers a beautiful, spacious, and quick move-in design for those with sophisticated modern tastes- and relatively deep pockets. There are many other prefab models in production that do provide a more affordable housing option. Tiny ones like the Weehouse, several designs by Michelle Kaufman, and the sub-$100,000 option by Rocio Romero are all good examples. […]

  22. Neshura January 18, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    I like prefab, but most prefab houses are so bland and boxy. One of the fundamental problems of prefab is the total loss of “place” in the design. I’m not saying that the rows of imitative stucco in NorCal or imitative Colonial in NoVa are substantially better at strengthening communities, but at least there’s some minimal nod to the personality of a locale. A big builder may not source local materials, but at least I’m not living in a box.

  23. Shane January 17, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    I like the price on this. The Breezeway mod home is way expensive. I would love to see more solar heat and power built in. Also, as a greenhouse designer I must ask, why not a greenhouse to help heat the home? This would also provide fresh food and flowers. Anyone want to collaborate?

  24. Jewel fitzgerald January 16, 2006 at 5:45 pm

    I am considering a prefab constructed design such as the LV series for my first home. I live in Montana. How well do these
    models stand harsher winter climates? Can the designs be modified to add a garage or possibly a laundry room?

  25. Lynne Reynolds January 13, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Rocio Romero has done what few architects and designers interested in pre-fab have been able to do: offers a true alternative to the stratospheric costs of home ownership. That she has done it with such simplicity and style is to her immense credit.

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