PARADISE IN A BOX
Forget doublewides and trailer parks.
Forget doublewides and trailer parks. Prefabricated homes have gone upscale with modernist designs and luxe amenities -- for up to 30% of the cost of a custom-built home. Think Frank Lloyd Wright meets Ikea. Prefabs are becoming a popular choice among home owners aiming to keep the lid on building costs for second homes and weekend retreats, but who still want distinctive design and special touches. What's more, prefabs go up one-third faster than custom-built homes because factory production faces none of the 11th-hour changes in the availability of labor, supplies and good weather that custom builders face. You can learn about the ins and outs of buying a prefabricated house by reading Fabulous Prefabs from the July issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance. We also compiled a photo gallery of selected models by top architecture firms. (Note that most of the firms that design these homes offer models in other shapes and sizes and also build custom homes.) So shake off any notions you may already have, and take a look at these fabulous prefabs.
Architectural Firm: EmpyreanSize: 3,398 square feetBedrooms: ThreeBaths: TwoCost: $175 to $225 per square foot, including construction and finishes. This house customized a model floor plan, adding a barrel vault ceiling. It was manufactured in an Acton, Mass., factory and was delivered on several flatbed trucks. Designer Empyrean has a network of about 300 builders nationwide who are trained to assemble its homes.
Architectural Firm: Alchemy ArchitectsSize: About 1,550 square feetBedrooms: ThreeBaths: TwoCost: About $150,000 This cottage in Cawaja Beach, Ontario, was fashioned from two modular units. (When this photo was taken, the patio had not yet been finished.) The firm that designed this home, Alchemy Architects, delivers units that arrive on flatbed trucks with electrical wiring, plumbing and other details built in and ready for hook-up.
Architectural Firm: Office of Mobile DesignSize: 2,880 square feetBedrooms: FourBaths: ThreeCost: $519,000 This modular home is designed to be environmentally friendly. For example, its bamboo flooring can be replaced upon wear with more bamboo, a renewable resource. A series of similar homes designed by architect Jennifer Siegal are being built in a development in Desert Palm Springs, Calif.
Architectural Firm: CleverHomesSize: 2,400 square feetBedrooms: FourBaths: ThreeCost: About $420,000 to $600,000 This two-story home is made of about 40% windows, maximizing sunlight. Architecture firm CleverHomes says its CH1 home is energy efficient and will lower your energy bills through sophisticated insulation. The home arrives in sections and is assembled on site, with custom configurations possible.
Architectural Firm: Lazor OfficeSize: 2,600 square footBedrooms: ThreeBaths: ThreeCost: About $175 to $250 a square foot, including construction and finishes Built of cedar, metal and glass, this two-story home arrives as a kit of parts that contractors assemble on your lot. Pictured is one of three floor plans the firm offers for you to tweak and reconfigure. The firm also offers an interior design package that supplies modernist fixtures, such as faucets, cabinetry and lighting. FlatPak house is part of a series of homes built by Empyrean and co-branded as one of the Dwell Homes.
Architectural Firm: Northern SteelSize: 2,400 square feet, excluding garageBedrooms: FourBaths: ThreeCost: $398,000 to $485,000 This eight-unit complex in Rehoboth Beach, Del., is called the ForjLofts, developed from a steel panel building system manufactured by Northern Steel. The steel panels can withstand 120 mile-per-hour winds from coastal storms and drastically reduce ambient noise. Individual residential units can be placed in different configurations on properties anywhere in the United States.
Architectural Firm: Taalman KochSize: About 1,100 square feetBedrooms: OneBaths: OneCost: About $175,000, with additional finishing work adding about $100,000 to $150,000 to the tab This glass house with an aluminum frame has a Japanese-garden theme. It is built from insulated glass units, which are two panes of glass sandwiching a layer of transparent insulation. The glass is coated in your choice of replaceable design patterns, offering privacy and shade in a clever way.
THE DWELL HOME
Architectural Firm: Resolution: 4 ArchitectureSize: 2,635 square feetBedrooms: ThreeBaths: ThreeCost: About $461,000 to $593,000. Prices vary by your home's design and local construction costs This home arrives at your lot in sections stuffed with wiring and insulation. Its award-winning design was created by Resolution: 4 Architecture, built by Empyrean and co-branded one of the Dwell Homes.
Architectural Firm: Michelle Kaufmann DesignsSize: 1,344 square feetBedrooms: TwoBaths: OneCost: $175 to $240 a square foot, including construction and finishes This modular home can eliminate your utility bills with its optional solar panels, geothermal, wind power or hybrid power equipment. The home comes in several floor plans with different sizes, including a two-story option, but all of its floor plans maximize natural ventilation. The home is for sale in 13 states).
Architectural Firm: Rocio RomeroSize: 1,150 square feetBedrooms: TwoBaths: TwoCost: About $32,900, plus delivery costs of about $2,000 to $5,000 This kit home is the least expensive prefab option on the market. But the firm's package only includes the shell of your house, leaving it to you to finish the job, including roofing. The LV150 model can withstand 150 mile-per-hour winds. Smaller models are also for sale.
Find more modernist prefabs at the FabPrefab Web site
By Sean O'NeillPhotos compiled by Beth Rosenfeld