architecture blog

The Prefab Home - Manufacturing Required?

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Jul 17, 2008 @ 18:07 PM

Karrie Jacobs, one of my favorite architectural writers, has once again called out prefab housing for what it currently is, "building inside." As she argues in this Article from Metropolis Magazine, Architects thus far have approached prefab housing with an architect's mentality when it really requires an industrial designers approach.

Although prefab housing has started to gain a small niche, discussion and theoretical projects still far outweigh concrete examples. Even the current "models" on the market are primarily just pieces of homes built in a factory, trucked to the site and assembled over a standard foundation system. These homes are not truly manufactured. The level of efficiency and cost savings that is the goal of prefab housing will not be achieved until the entire approach becomes more like that of an automobile assembly line. So, as Karrie Jacobs suggests, are architects the right ones to be solving the problem of prefab construction?

Tags: Residential, Prefab

The Promise of Prefab?

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 @ 07:01 AM

For all the hype of the Modern Prefab home these days, there still remains one clear problem: PRICE. The real promise behind prefab has yet to surface - "an affordable alternative to site built."

For all the positives that prefab claims to have: efficiency, speed, quality; the facts are clear, the price of prefab is often more than standard on-site construction. I'm not saying that this will always be the case, but for now, the cost savings are hard to see. This is especially the case in places like Los Angeles where the permitting process can be complex and labor costs are high. So, without naming names, here are some recent per square foot (construction only) prices of some prefab home makers:

Prefab Company A: $400/ sq. ft.

Prefab Company B: $300/ sq. ft.

Prefab Company C: $250/ sq. ft.

Prefab Company D: $275/ sq. ft.

Not exactly affordable numbers, especially considering that these homes are often full of compromises in order to be factory built - primarily size and room proportions. In the current Los Angeles construction market, a more affordable goal for modern building would be in the $150-$200 range.

At Modative, one of our primary goals is to reduce the cost of modern construction. This is a difficult and ongoing process that so far it has not lead us in the direction of prefab. So as some of our projects progress, we will see if this range can be accomplished.

Tags: Residential, Prefab