Shop Etsy

Noted: The Problem With Prefab

Sep 9, 2011

by Chappell Ellison

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

You built that koi pond in the backyard. You’ve knitted an entire new wardrobe and learned how to re-wallpaper with the best of ’em. So what’s a DIY addict to do next? Perhaps it’s time for the ultimate project: constructing your own house. With a set of construction-ready parts that’s delivered to your doorstep, prefabricated houses are perhaps the biggest DIY project you can undertake. As inexpensive, efficient mass-produced structures, they were originally developed with the working class in mind, representing the ever-mobile American who’s always ready to move to a new opportunity. After falling out of favor in the ’80s and ’90s when suburban residential developments were all the rage, prefab is now back.

Prefab housing is nothing new — as early as 1908, Sears was selling homes out of their catalog. For $1,023, you could purchase The Hamilton, a two-story, ten-room home with a spacious covered porch. “Being practically square, every inch of space can be utilized to the very best advantage,” boasted the original advertisement. Much cheaper than homes designed by hired architects, mail-order houses were almost always purchased by first-time home owners. Though the models varied in style, each instant house was aesthetically conservative, appealing to a broad range of buyers. Prefab houses found new fans after World War II, when hundreds of soldiers returned home with the need for quick and cheap housing. Since then, it’s been a love-hate relationship, with prefab housing weathering more criticism than praise.

As concerns for the environment have risen over the past decade, prefab housing has reemerged as a green mascot for architecture because it requires fewer materials than traditionally constructed homes. Not only are many manufacturers latching onto the green movement, they’ve also adopted a sleek, modern look, one that comes with a hefty price tag. “I thought that finally, modern home design would be attainable by those of us who aren’t pulling in lofty six figure incomes,” laments architect Chad Ludeman in a thoughtful essay that aims to debunk the myths of prefab.

Recently, Lloyd Atler of Treehugger wrote about Blu Homes, a new company that aims to bring prefab back to its low-cost and efficient roots. For Atler, though Blu is a good start, most prefab manufacturers still care more about selling to wealthy clients rather than creating green housing for all. “The vision of those working in green modern prefab was to make it affordable and accessible to a large market, to do for housing what IKEA did for furniture,” writes Atler. “Instead, it is generally being used to build expensive country homes on huge exurban lots for individual homeowners, and in an era of climate crisis, that’s not solving a problem but is making it worse.”

It seems that prefab houses haven’t quite recaptured their audience; for now, the people who can actually afford the price tag would rather buy a customized, traditionally-built home. For the die-hard DIYers among us, the options are beyond our budgets. So until prefab housing manufacturers are able to once again provide affordable models, we’ll just have to keep our hands busy on other projects.

Would you ever consider living in a prefab house?

More Noted Posts

3 Featured Comments

  • DrCraze

    DrCraze said 5 years ago Featured

    Living in New Mexico I would have to say nothing beats huge earthen walls. They last several lifetimes and look great when finished nicely. It is a pity more states aren't adopting these methods into their building codes. Onto prefab homes. What is green about shipping an entire home half way across the country 2 or 3 times during the procurement of materials and the delivery of the finished product? I have no problem with homes like this but to say it is "green" turns my stomach. This is really only a product of our "got to have it now" mentality. Why wait several years for a finished home when you can have one installed next week?

  • jasperalley

    jasperalley said 5 years ago Featured

    I too love the idea of pre-fab homes. Pre-fab used to be associated with "poor quality," but not anymore. Pre-fab (or modular) homes have to comply with the same building codes site-built homes do, and the factory-built aspect lends itself to consistency in the construction. Also, they are not at all just an American thing...Asian countries, especially Japan, are leaders in using the pre-fab concept, and they are also becoming very popular in Europe. One form of pre-fab that is being used more and more all over the world is the container home - those big, steel cargo containers that you see stacked on freighters are being recycled into beautiful homes and apartment communities.

  • 2007musarra

    2007musarra said 5 years ago Featured

    I live in a city where Johnny apple seed actually planted trees and there are many Sears homes. For in minute I thought my 1913 home was a Sears but could not find any of the markers that they require. It's still the most green home I can thinks of with hardwood floors and wonderful wood trim and crown molding. So why not just buy an existing home and update it's infastructers to today's standards??? There a million of them on the market and it's one of things that is pulling our economy down. Everyone can own the American dream that way, be green and help our horrible economy .

121 comments

  • tschuess

    tschuess said 5 years ago

    I adore the idea of a prefab house, but as the post mentions, it's not financial feasible for most people.

  • JasmineLund

    JasmineLund said 5 years ago

    I lived in an old Sears and Roebuck house for a few years when I was a kid; the parts were all shipped out west on a train, then assembled. It had to be half a century old, but it was standing in all its intact glory. It had been added to (an entryway and garage and laundry room), but not remodeled in any other way. For a pack of small kids, it was the perfect dream house, and, like most old houses, had tons of character. I loved it.

  • barkdecor

    barkdecor said 5 years ago

    This is so funny! I actually live right around the corner from Blu homes offices and am looking into one. It has so many great "green" options and energy efficient appliances already included in the packages, not to mention great design....... I'm in love :)

  • mamif

    mamif said 5 years ago

    An interesting concept. Can't believe Sears used to sell homes!

  • jenjeffery

    jenjeffery said 5 years ago

    fantastic idea.

  • MootiDesigns

    MootiDesigns said 5 years ago

    Great spaces, unbelievable what you can do with preFab. Great post!

  • murphymae

    murphymae said 5 years ago

    We've looked into Blu homes as we have plans to buy an orchard soon. My husband is a beekeeper and makes hard cider, so its been a dream. In exploring Blu and most other pre-fabs, the shell is reasonable enough compared to a conventional house but the finishing is where the big costs are. I still love the idea and Blu especially has some amazing designs.

  • crochetgal

    crochetgal said 5 years ago

    Prefab homes have been around for years, under different names. 'Modular homes' was the hot term in the '70s for exactly the same thing! A great, affordable way to purchase a home.

  • tarikyousef

    tarikyousef said 5 years ago

    It does seem odd that we are not able to produce an affordable nice prefab home that outside of the 'single' and 'double wide' homes we see here dotting the ohio countryside.

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections said 5 years ago

    Great article- I'm quite surprised that with the rise in price of construction material; pre-fab homes aren't much more affordable than having custom built homes despite the scale pre-fab companies are purchasing materials in.

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 5 years ago

    Sears selling full on homes out of their catalog gave me a little chuckle! "I'll take the two sweaters on page 11, oh, and the 3,000 sqft home on page 12."

  • weretonks

    weretonks said 5 years ago

    I live really close to one of those Sears houses. It's really beautiful and you would never know from looking at it that it's from a catalog. :P Makes you wonder how much shipping it was ...

  • BuggaLuggaChugga

    BuggaLuggaChugga said 5 years ago

    Absolutely - once they get back around to the original intent of being more financially feasible.

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 5 years ago

    you're right on regarding the current market for most prefab. i know dwell magazine often features modern prefab homes at several price points. they're one of the few that go out of their way to represent a wide variety and are highly conscientious about getting great architecture and green to everyone. this is one for $200k, http://www.dwell.com/articles/prefab-proven.html this is a link to other articles they have regarding their idea of prefab. http://www.dwell.com/search/?keywords=prefab&type=15724&type=15029 i'm not trying to plug them, they're an exception to a lot of the prefab industry.

  • gadgetgirl

    gadgetgirl said 5 years ago

    I would in a heartbeat - looking into either Roccio Romero LV Home or Karoleena Homes based out of Calgary. They're financially within reach, around me it's the land that's $$

  • DrCraze

    DrCraze said 5 years ago Featured

    Living in New Mexico I would have to say nothing beats huge earthen walls. They last several lifetimes and look great when finished nicely. It is a pity more states aren't adopting these methods into their building codes. Onto prefab homes. What is green about shipping an entire home half way across the country 2 or 3 times during the procurement of materials and the delivery of the finished product? I have no problem with homes like this but to say it is "green" turns my stomach. This is really only a product of our "got to have it now" mentality. Why wait several years for a finished home when you can have one installed next week?

  • VeraVague

    VeraVague said 5 years ago

    i think "pre-fab" is a uniquely american phenomenon. it does seem that this culture bends toward convenience with a quickness. this can be done and done well, but i think we need to change our thinking as to how we go about it. Chappelle I'd love to see a feature about the Garbage Warrior, Michael Reynolds! Sooner than later we'll have to put the vinyl siding down and make use of our "trash".

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    I think its a great idea and a great way to be able to afford a home nowadays. =)

  • NolaGrl08

    NolaGrl08 said 5 years ago

    Absolutely! Prefab houses/ structures are a great option. They have been found throughout neighborhoods in pre and post Katrina New Orleans. Hopefully, we'll see more affordable options and attractive options available nation-wide soon.

  • amerrymishap

    amerrymishap said 5 years ago

    Excellent article with a lot of good information. I am drawn to the idea of prefab for the same reason Ludeman referred to, that these sleek & simple, modest homes would be available to someone like me, middle class. It's too bad that prefab doesn't have the same perks as it once did. I do think they need to get back to that though, because why would people want prefab if they are already rolling in 6 figures, wouldn't they just want custom? I probably would.

  • manvsgeorge

    manvsgeorge said 5 years ago

    I would *love* to live in a prefab modern-design home! I like the idea of factory precision when it comes to the manufacturing of the materials -- I have read that this leads to much greater energy efficiency in the home. Granted, I live in a 1905 farm house -- just the opposite of a modern prefab -- so if I moved, I might end up missing the foot-thick plaster walls that seem to deflect cell phone signals, the permanently sealed windows, and the wood floors that slope so much in my upstairs office that visiting children have named it "The Tilty Room"... ;-)

  • TheHickoryTree

    TheHickoryTree said 5 years ago

    My parent's house was ordered from Sears-Roebuck. All the materials were delivered to the property and my Mom, Dad and Grandparents assembled it. With 6 kids and 4 adults living in the house, it was a bargain and big enough for everyone. Although my Dad and Grandparents have long since passed away. My Mom still lives in the house and I'm sure the house will out live all of us that lived in it. It's solid as a rock.

  • stepbackink

    stepbackink said 5 years ago

    Lived near a Sears tin Kit house once! it was a great concept. Good article

  • dollydollyfashions

    dollydollyfashions said 5 years ago

    Great Post! I learn something new here at etsy nearly every day. I never knew about the Sears homes. For several years now I have been reading about Shipping Container homes. Some of them are inspiring- and certainly there is something pre-fab about them. You can find these homes in europe and asia as well as here. Architects have made them over into some awesome living spaces. I am not ashamed to say I dumpster dive on a regular basis. We have a brand new set of adjustable shelves that I found on one of my hunts. They were never used- still packaged. Same goes for some of our furniture. Found at the curb- or stacked on top of a pile of "trash". This week I found a box FULL of sewing items- all still in their original packages, and a french easel complete with all of its unused contents (paint, brushes and so on) which was literally thrown to the side of a stack of "garbage". It needs a minor repair due to the throwing. Also found 2 small tables, 4 Brown and Jordan chairs and a beautiful coffee table that is now sitting in my brother's livingroom. It needed some touch-ups from the "trash" that was on top of it. What we throw away here- is just plain amazing. And Vera is right- The Garbage Warrior is an awesome person who has been showing us a better way for a very long time. He is the ultimate in recycling/green/creative home living. What I love seeing on etsy- the odd items someone has turned into a piece of art, or into something functional as well as interesting and unique.

  • missusfrenchie

    missusfrenchie said 5 years ago

    Interesting article! I had no idea Sear made homes! Found this interesting blog post as well...more interesting points... http://preservegreen.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/prefab-housing-edgy-sure-energy-efficient-probably-an-environmental-triumph-meh-it-remains-to-be-seen/

  • WhimbrellasAttic

    WhimbrellasAttic said 5 years ago

    My musician husband and I have been seriously considering the I-Home concept with a main living house and two (his and her) studio buildings attached with decking. My architect son said he can't build a comparable set up for the price of a pre-fab. The pre-fab industry saves money by cutting way down on the construction waste when they build many of the same thing at their factory. If you research construction waste, you'll find that a large percentage of landfils are filled with it, hence the "greening" of the pre-fab home. http://claytonihouse.com/iHousePhotoGallery.cfm

  • PaperAffection

    PaperAffection said 5 years ago

    I think pre-fab is associated with mediocre quality more now and would have actually thought that working with an architect would have been the ultimate DIY project. Interesting to know how green pre-fab can be and I'd love to see a more modern version!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 5 years ago

    I've seen some reasonably priced ones made in Canada. Course you have to factor in the exchange rate. And, you can customize a prefab interior for more bucks too.

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 5 years ago

    Sears sold all manner of goods out of that famous catalog for years to people who would not have access to them otherwise. The Amazon of the pre-digital age, perhaps?

  • destroymodernart

    destroymodernart said 5 years ago

    I want to live in a yurt or yert however you spell it...then you could move around with it and assemble it within a day:)

  • FrivolousNecessity

    FrivolousNecessity said 5 years ago

    loved this article. i wouldn't live in one. i don't trust my building ability yet. :)

  • peaseblossomstudio

    peaseblossomstudio said 5 years ago

    I absolutely love prefab houses and am fascinated by the idea of ordering your house from a catalog! They have prefab model cabins outside our local Home Depot that range from 400 to 800 square feet, complete with porches. I dream of buying a piece of land on a lake and planting one of those cabins beside it.

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 5 years ago

    At least the oldtime Sears and other kit homes were made with real wood, glass door knobs and other durable, recycleable materials. They are still standing for the most part and their basic good design endures. On the other hand, lower end, new prefab tends to look pretty much like what it is: plastic cookie cutter junk. I saw a great prefab component home in Country Living about 10 yrs ago that really was well designed and seemed to use quality materials but cost of components alone far exceeded an already existing, resale home of comparable quality. Plus you had to buy a lot/land and pay huge amount for construction. No deal.

  • chiquiita

    chiquiita said 5 years ago

    I will love to be able to "build" my own house, making it unique and comfy my style. The first thing I will love to have is my own crafty room for my shop, I imagine it just perfect. It may be expensive but building a property that suits your lifestyle is priceless. Thanks for the article...

  • ArtPhotosDiana

    ArtPhotosDiana said 5 years ago

    Appreciate this article and previous one about cargo container housing. Thanks for checking under the hood!

  • fbstudiovt

    fbstudiovt said 5 years ago

    My ex in-laws used to tell me all the time about how they got their own pre-fab house shipped to them when they were first married in the early 70's. They build the place themselves and it's still standing and in great condition today. The price tag for the land and the house? A whopping $45,000, which they thought was a fortune at the time...

  • katienelson

    katienelson said 5 years ago

    I remember one of the many mornings that my mom tortured us with hours of This Old House. I remember one episode talking about the pre-fab/modular craze in Japan and how they were doing it. It may be another example of Japanese "adoration" of all things American, but this isn't just an American phenomenon. One thing that I like about the pre-fabs being put up in New Orleans is that they are re-purposing the old containers from container ships to make them. And, when they're done with it, you wouldn't even know they were made from an old container that's probably seen more places in the world than most of us ever will... But, the closest I've seen to "pre-fab" these days is the house I currently live in. It was designed and built by a regular home builder, but they essentially sent the contractors a puzzle...the pieces for the framing were all put together, and they just had to follow the schematic that showed them what went where...it was pretty cool to watch it go up. Of course, they still had the rest of the "normal" work that goes into putting up a house after that, but it was neat to see how much more quickly the house went up this way... Great story! And I love old Sears catalogs - they really did sell just about everything!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

    Prefab houses were popular in the UK where they came over from Germany, recently a development by IKEA to build prefab houses started in Gateshead. It seems like a private firms attempts to create a council estate...

  • adfwm

    adfwm said 5 years ago

    A lot of people don't associate the turn of the century homes with Sears because they are referred to in industry as "Craftsman Homes". They can be very popular in some regions and buyers often go looking for a Craftsman home specifically. Today, Sears still uses the Craftsman name. You will notice all their store brand tools are Craftsman.

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 5 years ago

    Like the picture! Great idea - one's own home is one's own home - whatever it is, and so if that is all one can afford, hey, I am in! As long as it is warm in winter, just right in the summer.....roof over your head....and it's yours!

  • salvageshop

    salvageshop said 5 years ago

    Wow....first an insightful article on Cargotecture, now a real look at what current pre-fab is actually contributing to the green movement....all very thought provoking. Keep up the excellent work Etsy!

  • HopeChestHome

    HopeChestHome said 5 years ago

    Having been an architecture student, and poured passionately over my families' decorating magazines for decades- I can say I absolutely would live in a prefab house! There is something especially wonderful about knowing a house was made completely for you- they allow for enough personalization while still maximizing space. Unfortunately they are all expensive- out of most budgets. The homes are beautiful in their simplicity and spacial confines- but may start at $82,000 USD for a 200 sq ft shell, and can go up to $800,000+ for a simple 5 bedroom house. If they brought the price down even 20% I think that they would be competitively priced. I used to dream of a modern prefab house- but most likely I will end up with an asbestos filled forgotten gem from the early 1900's...

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 5 years ago

    Lots of Sears prefabs in the Chicago area. Yes, I would live in a prefab as long as I didn't have to build it myself.

  • jackandtilly

    jackandtilly said 5 years ago

    I adore these mod prefab houses. I would love to pop one up in my backyard to house my studio & vintage shop! A dream come true.

  • BlackStar

    BlackStar said 5 years ago

    My husband designed and built our home. We're carpenters by trade. So to answer your question, no. I don't see anything wrong with them. They're just not for me.

  • Thoroughfare

    Thoroughfare said 5 years ago

    I would live in one in a heartbeat! The problem is if I had that much money I would probably just have a custom house built. Who is buying these things?

  • HELENSHASSACK

    HELENSHASSACK said 5 years ago

    i grew up in a prefab home from the early 1900s. my brother bought the home from my parents, this christmas even the house burnt down. now my brother is building a modular home on the property, really is there any difference?

  • sarlesnatalya

    sarlesnatalya said 5 years ago

    wow this is really nice, never heard of it before. no wonder we have nothing like this in Russia. but i think this idea is neat and actually a good looking one if know what you are doing!

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana said 5 years ago

    I always wanted to design my own home so I guess prefab isn't for me. I love the design of the house in the picture.

  • WalterSilva

    WalterSilva said 5 years ago

    Nice!

  • PattiTrostle

    PattiTrostle said 5 years ago

    I had no idea pre fab housing went back so far in time. Very interesting!

  • CFFDESIGNS

    CFFDESIGNS said 5 years ago

    Interesting. One caution for all you greeners out there. I wil suggest that if the day ever comes when it is an affordable option, before you commit to buying one of these, that you drop by barnes and noble or some other book store in your area. DeWalt, maker of quality power tools, also has some published work. They include books on blueprint reading, electrical, plumbing, insulation, ect. Get my point.?Going green is always the best choice but there is one thing that will always be true. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! Having cheap materials or POOR QUALITY construction will cost you dearly in maintaining your new green home. Especially insulation and plumbing. MOST OF US TAKE GREAT PRIDE IN OUR OWN WORK. SEE TO IT THAT WHO YOU'RE HANDING YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY TO DOES THE SAME. I may seem a little excited about this but in my day job i am a quality control Inspector and i see shoddy work daily and know alot of home builders who take short cuts to save themselves a buck or two thousand. Stay sharp. Read daily

  • DriveTractorNPearls

    DriveTractorNPearls said 5 years ago

    We wanted prefab on our farm but the cost was ridiculous. Instead we built a concrete rectangle with a walkout basement using insulated concrete forms. We built modern, green, pretty cheap. Our all electric house is twice the size of our previous house but our electricity is more than 1/2 of our previous home that was gas and electric. You can do it yourself and be ahead of the building curve by using concrete.

  • PacificMerchantile

    PacificMerchantile said 5 years ago

    More pipe dreams on Etsy. I'm a carpenter and if you want a solid house you should look to concrete. And for the green crowd.... people have been building "green" as long as they've been picking up rocks. The "green" and "solar" are so expensive that extra money must be created thus a bigger foot print on the earth. Until the price comes down IMO people should subscribe but not hype it up as the price is not affordable.

  • jrandall

    jrandall said 5 years ago

    Yes..Yes..Yes..

  • Officeboy01

    Officeboy01 said 5 years ago

    "Cars That Thieves Don't Want" on yahoo has some really nice cars, beyond the prefab showing here. Cars are more interesting

  • tiltomorrow

    tiltomorrow said 5 years ago

    What the heck? Cars...

  • JuniperHome

    JuniperHome said 5 years ago

    I love the look of these modern prefabs, but I too lament the ridiculously hefty price tags. The materials themselves don't cost nearly as much - what you're paying for essentially is the design.

  • torchyhunter

    torchyhunter said 5 years ago

    The very cheapest way to build a house is hire an architect, not a contractor. If you have a compatible one, you tell him the budget and it's up to him to bring it in. We hired one to re-do the ugliest house on a block, and now it's amazing. We even have the land for a pre-fab, but once you look at the whole price, including transportation and bringing in electricity and water, you can live in a very upscale house. Alas.

  • GregoriPhotography

    GregoriPhotography said 5 years ago

    We once were interested in a pre-fab by Rocio Romero. Gorgeous design! Unfortunately, not really suited for bigger families and then costs go up once you get it delivered to Canada etc. Living in an alternative hexagon shaped non pre-fab solution now turned out pretty good though.

  • MyWisteriaCottage

    MyWisteriaCottage said 5 years ago

    On the sears homes idea, I have a book of their house plans. I love the book and have read it over and over again. Then I took the book and looked at old homes in my area and sure enough, they are everwhere. Soo cool.

  • brianslittlegirl

    brianslittlegirl said 5 years ago

    Totally would!! I love the idea. I wish that it were more financially feasible, we have looked into it a bit, but so far, not so much. It's cheaper to just buy a nice old brick house instead, which I like just about as much. Definitely though, if pre-fab houses become more reasonably priced and remain green and I can find one that would work with my dream of opening an in home daycare, I would LOVE to go prefab.

  • tiltomorrow

    tiltomorrow said 5 years ago

    I'm inspired to check out our library for the Old Sears Catalogs in the morning. Need some inspiration for my next art project.

  • LemonadeSprinkles

    LemonadeSprinkles said 5 years ago

    I think the banks should "give away" a pre-fab to everyone when they take their homes away......

  • DistinctiveColorArt

    DistinctiveColorArt said 5 years ago

    I would totally consider a prefab house if the pricing were affordable. Makes me wonder why the pricing ISN'T affordable. This Old House did a show in Japan and the housing development was basically a prefabbed one. Norm said the costs were less expensive than stick built and the homes were easy to put up and more energy efficient.

  • bigbluebed

    bigbluebed said 5 years ago

    In the UK pre-fab homes were built mostly after the Second World War to provide homes for the returning servicemen. Many loved the new homes as they had built in ocnveniences that their old homes simply did not have. I think there a still a few standing round here. Other than that prefab houses are a bit unknown here although I have seen one or two on tv.

  • WakeUpTheAngel

    WakeUpTheAngel said 5 years ago

    I would love an affordable pre-fab house. Especially if I could build one like the modern one in the photos above. I can envision how those modules could be arranged or purchased in a different number and configuration to get a customized home. Really aren't so many of us working with "modules" and combining them to produce our wares ?

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 5 years ago

    Interesting article.

  • Officeboy01

    Officeboy01 said 5 years ago

    Can you imagine 11 of these on the same block? Would look like the Jenstons-(spelling).

  • PurePalette

    PurePalette said 5 years ago

    You just speak my mind. I'm a big fan of Dwell magazine and the pre-fab house is promoted heavily there. But yak..how much again!

  • jasperalley

    jasperalley said 5 years ago Featured

    I too love the idea of pre-fab homes. Pre-fab used to be associated with "poor quality," but not anymore. Pre-fab (or modular) homes have to comply with the same building codes site-built homes do, and the factory-built aspect lends itself to consistency in the construction. Also, they are not at all just an American thing...Asian countries, especially Japan, are leaders in using the pre-fab concept, and they are also becoming very popular in Europe. One form of pre-fab that is being used more and more all over the world is the container home - those big, steel cargo containers that you see stacked on freighters are being recycled into beautiful homes and apartment communities.

  • tiltomorrow

    tiltomorrow said 5 years ago

    No, perfer the hill county.

  • galfridaygoods

    galfridaygoods said 5 years ago

    i like alternatives to the traditional home : shipping crate homes, yurts, portable dome homes, airstreams .... these homes can travel!!! the idea of a home that is anchored to one place seems sort of old fashioned .... also whenever i read about pre-fab homes i think about Habitat 67 in Canada ...... http://www.space1999.net/~sorellarium13/habitat-67.htm ..... great article!

  • reco

    reco said 5 years ago

    To appreciate the real meaning of pre-fab housing (so as to not regress the speak to a notion of fad, demeaning advances in the field of architecture and it's contributions to our lifestyles) a bit of architecture history may help in understanding the origin of 'pre-fab'/modular housing type ie. housing development in Holland circa 1920's, Le Corbusier's idea of a house as "a machine for living", new engineering achievements, design as per modernist modals, views of living in post war time and the evolution of modern life. Fun + informative links: Timeline of the history of prefabricated housing, see Moma's 'Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling' exhibit > www.momahomedelivery.org A look at some current beautiful choices > www.weehouse.com

  • 99years

    99years said 5 years ago

    If it looked like the one in the photo above, hell yes!

  • tiltomorrow

    tiltomorrow said 5 years ago

    1100 would be great for all those folks who lost their home in that small community in Texas due to the fires. So sad.

  • reco

    reco said 5 years ago

    A bit of architecture history may help in understanding the origin of 'pre-fab'/modular housing type ie. housing development in Holland circa 1920's, Le Corbusier idea of a house as "a machine for living", new engineering achievements, construction as per modernist modals, views of living in post war time and the evolution of modern life. Fun + informative links: Timeline of the history of prefabricated housing, see Moma's 'Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling' exhibit, http://momahomedelivery.org

  • Officeboy01

    Officeboy01 said 5 years ago

    Hill Country is nice. One of the pre-fabs would not stand-up to good out there in the open winds. I tend to view these homes in city setting.

  • Officeboy01

    Officeboy01 said 5 years ago

    reco, thanks for sharing. I cannot imagine in the 20s building these types homes. You have my curosity, I am going to research more on Monday when I have a bit more time.

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    OnlyOriginalsByAJ said 5 years ago

    That is so interesting that Sears used to sell houses! I'm currently living in a post WWII prefab house and I love it. I wish it was a little bit bigger, but I really can't complain :)

  • peekaboomonkey

    peekaboomonkey said 5 years ago

    The house I own now is a prefab cape cod home built in the late 80's. I love it! In a neighborhood where there is only 2 styles of houses mine stands out from the rest. Plus I love the cape cod style.

  • DriftlineCuriosities

    DriftlineCuriosities said 5 years ago

    Yes my great grand father ordered and built one in the early 1800s in Santa Barbara, CA - well written blog

  • Officeboy01

    Officeboy01 said 5 years ago

    I thought the next article titled "Featured Seller: Linda Monfort" interesting. She has an active blog. She is very inspirational

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 5 years ago

    We have some Sears homes in our town! They are still durable structures!

  • AlpineGypsy

    AlpineGypsy said 5 years ago

    I worked in a wonderful old Victorian-era home that was a Museum for several years, and we suspected that it was actually one of those original 'pre-fab' homes. It had exactly the same floor plan as many in the San Francisco area, and supposedly had been purchased there, and shipped out in 1894. It had WONDERFUL woodwork, and gorgeous detailing. Definitely not like the pre-fab we all envision now. It's such a great idea, but I am a little disappointed that it isn't more affordable. If they can get a man on the moon, surely something can be produced that isn't astronomically priced for the consumer. I'd love to live in one! Interesting article. Heidi

  • sucree

    sucree said 5 years ago

    The reality of pre-fab pricing is that if you want it at a good price it has to be made overseas. Not very green. And not reputable for quality construction. It is still less expensive to hire an architect and buy your materials local. And, yes, more green. I think it's important to note that the quality of finishes in the Sears home would not be affordable to the average middle class today either. Be green, buy and hire local!

  • mylenefoster

    mylenefoster said 5 years ago

    I think it's another option for consumers and fosters competition. If there are consumers that will sustain its business, who wouldn't care how it's made, then there is a market for it.

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 5 years ago

    Most of them are aesthetically attracting and functional, but, if you consider the materials used, they are definitely too expensive. I think it has to do with the "cool" factor and not much else. I also think this solution should be applied to the right country and location: this is very popular in US, but, with tornados and such natural phenomena, I don't think it's the best and safest option.

  • cathlorenz

    cathlorenz said 5 years ago

    I was so glad to read this post. I've been following the new Pre Fab for years and have always held the same opinion. I went to school with some of the designers doing the new Pre Fabs now and I'm almost angry with them that they put their own egos before the actual purpose of doing these. One day when I'm not so busy I may just prove to them that I can do a beautiful Pre Fab system that people can actually afford. Or prove myself wrong?

  • bigbluedyes

    bigbluedyes said 5 years ago

    Craftsman was a term associated with Gustav Stickley. The Arts and Crafts style of the turn of the century is known as "Craftsman", not Sears pre fab housing. Sears homes were not referred to as "craftsman" homes because of a brand name of "craftsman". They may have designed homes in the "craftsman" or Arts and Crafts style, but they had dozens of homes to choose from of all different styles. Most had names, some just numbers. Some of these homes were Arts & Crafts style, but there were Spanish, Colonial and English Tudor, bungalows, cape cods, etc. As per the website ragtime.org: "GUSTAV STICKLEY (1858-1942) so synthesized, romanticized and popularized the Arts & Crafts style of architecture during the first two decades of this century that today the style is known generically as "Craftsman." However, only a house originating from plans published by Stickley through his magazine The Craftsman can be a true Craftsman Home." See also http://www.craftsmanhomes.org/

  • 2007musarra

    2007musarra said 5 years ago Featured

    I live in a city where Johnny apple seed actually planted trees and there are many Sears homes. For in minute I thought my 1913 home was a Sears but could not find any of the markers that they require. It's still the most green home I can thinks of with hardwood floors and wonderful wood trim and crown molding. So why not just buy an existing home and update it's infastructers to today's standards??? There a million of them on the market and it's one of things that is pulling our economy down. Everyone can own the American dream that way, be green and help our horrible economy .

  • AngiesIris

    AngiesIris said 5 years ago

    Before I was born my Grandfather was offered a house that was sitting on a lot that a friend wanted to build a larger home on, all he had to do was move it, so he did. Three blocks up the road from its original location sits the house that I grew up in. One of the smallest Craftsman homes that Sears offered My Grandfather added a utility porch and second bedroom to the back and a sprawling covered porch to the front. Years later he sold the house to my newly divorced mother for a dollar. He said that he couldn't in good conscience charge her more because after all, he got it for free. I still love that house.

  • BlueMoonLights

    BlueMoonLights said 5 years ago

    Great post!

  • whitenoisemaker

    whitenoisemaker said 5 years ago

    Wow, surprising to see so many Etsians are into pre fab houses.

  • iswasandwillbe

    iswasandwillbe said 5 years ago

    We are actually in the process of talking to a housing manufacturer about building our 200-300 sq ft house. Stick built just becomes way too expensive when building such a small space. Our prediction is that pre-fab could totally make a big comeback with affordable, efficient, modern housing; I'm optimistic! If we can make it happen for us, we plan to spread the word and help others too!

  • raspberryhead

    raspberryhead said 5 years ago

    i never liked ikea furniture. it was fine when i was in college but the idea of sitting on the floor with instructions and pressed wood pieces makes me a littte queesy. I love the idea of preserving all of the old stuff. i love antiques. i feel weird about prefab. I guess my idea of green is buying someones old barn befor they tear it down and living in that or rescuing the old tile or wood from someone elses remodel. ive seen some really beautiful stuff end up on the scrap heap in the name of modernizing..i just don't know. i just dont feel happy about it..

  • SimplyCherise

    SimplyCherise said 5 years ago

    I think prefab is pretty cool. Saves on waisted construction materials, etc. I got to tour one of the sears Kit Homes that was purchased by Rose Wilder for her mother and father, Almonzo Wilder and Laura Ingals Wilder. To this day it is beautiful. I'd build it in a heart beat.

  • BoonieBoutique

    BoonieBoutique said 5 years ago

    I lived in the ultimate pre-fab, a Lustron home. All METAL PANEL CONSTRUCTION. Get this...the home came with a box of industrial magnets to hang art on the walls. The one's remaining are now on historical registries. They are getting harder to find, moisture wrecks havoc on them. The roof, walls, ceilings, kitchen, baths all metal. All pocket doors and metal built-ins. Pretty darn awesome! I experienced Hurricane Fran in that tin can...what a night! Check it...http://www.oldhouseweb.com/architecture-and-design/lustron-homes-part-1.shtml

  • Rubilou

    Rubilou said 5 years ago

    Back when it wasn't commonplace for a woman to do so, I was a general contractor. I had purchased a modular home dealership and loved the flexibility in design, the speed of setting and finishing these homes, and the beauty of the finished product. I also set the homes, mainly with a crane, on Superior Wall Foundations, which were also a wonderful product. Overall, the modular construction process was quicker and less expensive and the homes were very well built. I would live in one in a heartbeat!

  • LuLusApple

    LuLusApple said 5 years ago

    We built our home 7 years ago and looked into green prefab and log homes. The cost per square foot was more than double a traditional stick built house in our area. Things like flooring, appliances, lighting and in some even the electrical were not included. That sure added up. We ended up with nearly 1000 more square feet and a completely custom home for far less than a prefab. Years ago it was seen more as a novelty for those with cash to burn. I would of loved to go that route but it just didn't work out for the $$$

  • wyattsetsy

    wyattsetsy said 5 years ago

    Prefab works best, at the lowest production cost basis and with the least waste when produced at a large scale. Problem is, once any product/brand gets to large scale (ie. mass produced), the cool factor often evaporates. Maybe prefab will go the way of Apple/Mac products. Small relative market share, but respectable costs and fanatical customers. That is what my company www.boxenhomes.com is working towards. So far for us, prefab is an amazing way to stand out in a flooded, homogeneous homes market.

  • BGBJewelry

    BGBJewelry said 5 years ago

    I would prefer an old house in the Pacific Northwest with a nice size porch and big backyard, with a basement, that I could remodel, have a garden in the back and my kids could ride their bikes while I sit out on my porch and watch. I just don't think prefab is for me. I don't understand the mentality of 'if we build it, they will come'...stop wiping out the surroundings and enjoy what you have.

  • goldiesnaturalgems

    goldiesnaturalgems said 5 years ago

    I looked and looked for an affordable, modern prefab, least expensive was >300,000. I would if I could, I love the idea but not obtainable for us working artists

  • eaeaetsy

    eaeaetsy said 5 years ago

    I do live in a prefab (modular) home. Three bedrooms, two full baths, living area, laundry room and a kitchen (I have it because it came with the house and it did come with all the appliances). Oh and a big, beautiful wood front porch. What some people don't realize is that once the home is placed on it's permanent foundation and the pieces are "put" together and the roof is raised, it can not be moved like a mobile home. Mine (in Fort Worth, Texas) is considered a site built home and insured as a home. Goldiesnaturalgems, I don't know where you live or what size home you are looking for, mine is 1,500 sq. feet and I paid $57K for it - turnkey.

  • caseofthenakedladies

    caseofthenakedladies said 5 years ago

    I own a prefab that we use as a cottage. My boyfriend bought it for under ten grand and it was a big chunk of mold, rot and renos just waiting to happen. We spent an entire summer working on it. Neither of us being carpenters (although he's a flooring installer). The beautiful part was how easy it was to renovate. Essentially, it's a box. And you can buy a crap one, reno the entire thing on a very low budget (we put in about $2000 and a ton of our own labour) and it's brand spanking new all over again. We're both into interior design and nature and now we call it our beach house. I wouldn't trade it in for the world.

  • CorneliussPick

    CorneliussPick said 5 years ago

    The $75K green mobile home After beginning marketing in January, Clayton's i-house has finally been priced. Buying land for my organic farm is more important than anything plan to buy one of these for me one for my best friend to live on property and it is solar powered and has a rain water catching system already installed from 75-100k so I think this tiny footprint is the best way I can utilize my space.

  • littleshopofphotos

    littleshopofphotos said 5 years ago

    This is interesting. We are thinking of starting a DIY project and building a house for out family. However, we will try to build as green as possible and likely use as many natural found materials as we can from our surroundings. Prefab sounds like it could be an option...if only if it was less expensive.

  • SelvedgeShop

    SelvedgeShop said 5 years ago

    We priced the pre-fab sheds and found them to be too expensive. Instead we sketched one up and hired a contractor who was able to build a slant roof shed with transom windows for 1/3 the cost. We finished the inside with inexpensive materials, galvanized sheet metal on the ceiling, varnished wood veneer walls, trimmed out with bent metal trim. It feels like the inside of an old airstream. It's still waiting to be painted and we have dreams of adding a deck to the front of it.

  • GoddessOfJewelry

    GoddessOfJewelry said 5 years ago

    I had a lot of fun looking at the Bluhomes website with all the different pre-fab options. I agree that the pricing seems to be out-of-control as they may likely be cashing in on the "trend factor". There has GOT to be a more affordable option out there somewhere...

  • PJConsidine

    PJConsidine said 5 years ago

    Check out Appalachian State University's solar homestead that was developed by students for an international competition. It is solar, mobile, handsome and expensive but it is a nice start on the prefab revolution.

  • TandJsoaps

    TandJsoaps said 5 years ago

    Yes! I have always dreamed of making my own modular home. They are a bit beyond our reach right now. The magazine Dwell is a great place to start looking at prefab houses (and other modern and contemporary designed goods).

  • unkamengifts

    unkamengifts said 5 years ago

    We have been researching and planning our prefab addition to our solar home to house our growing Etsy business!

  • willowonthewater

    willowonthewater said 5 years ago

    We dream of owning a Blu home. Just not sure it's going to be financially feasible.

  • sasprilla

    sasprilla said 5 years ago

    The idea of prefab is one that my husband and I have considered as well. One unfortunate draw back we have learned is that, living in the suburbs, most are classified the same as a mobile home and many times you cannot get the permits to do it. A complete DIY... I think not. There is no substitute to having a good contractor/carpenter at least assist and advise. As with most things the things you do not know can really hurt you.

  • augustehillAtelier

    augustehillAtelier said 5 years ago

    I have tucked away an article I found in the N.Y. Times about a house made from one of those little portable sheds. The owner cut out the roof, added a loft and put a little bathroom onto the back. It's lovely! I hope to buy a piece of land some day by the ocean and make my own custom pre-fab assemblage.

  • TreasureChest01

    TreasureChest01 said 5 years ago

    I love the idea of pre-fabbed homes, but what about the houses that are already built? At least in my area there is a housing crisis. There are far more homes than there are people, and many of them are quite inexpensive. If we are truly a green society, isn't it better to make improvements to an existing structure rather than start from scratch? There are many homes out there that need nothing more than some new paint, and maybe a flooring update. These are easy fixes, and it keeps the entire house from ending up in a landfill. Just sayin'.

  • DaniCalve

    DaniCalve said 5 years ago

    Wish they also made affordable prefab additions that you can add to an existing structure...someday my dream will come.

  • polkadottedsky

    polkadottedsky said 5 years ago

    I guess I need to get out more, but the idea of an attractive prefab is a new one to me. Where I live, most people live in prefab houses, but with none of the modern design and covetability being talked about here. Personally, prefab to me means flimsy, ugly double wide, with an expiration date of a couple decades, tops. If prefab can be made to hang around for as long as a conventional house, I'm all for it, but the prefab I'm familiar with just doesn't last very long- it's essentially disposable housing.

  • IndianSummerUK

    IndianSummerUK said 5 years ago

    Prefab housing looks like the way to go, take a look at http://www.cloudnine-living.com/

  • irthmum

    irthmum said 5 years ago

    So funny...I live in a "Sears house" now! I thought the real estate agent was joking when he said that the original owners had ordered thier house through the Sears catalogue and assembled it themselves while living in the barn.... Years later, I love this little catalogue pre-fab at least as much as they did. It's a cozy, cute sweet place that I call home, that my kids never want to leave, and where one more person always seems to fit in, whether it's for a day or for a month. xo, home! To see a pic, visit my website contact page: http://www.irthchild.com/page6.html and scroll to the bottom! :)

  • mialopez3

    mia lopez said 4 years ago

    Pepper recipes are as abundant as there are types of peppers more info at http://pepperecipes.com/

Sign in to add your own