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Prefabricated Homes and Modular Housing

Updated on November 9, 2012

High Design for Unique Property Investment

The latest trend in housing design is clearly the new modernist style prefabricated house. A far cry from a few years ago when prefab was relegated to trailer parks and A Frame cottages. Today's prefabs are now being designed by some of the most important architects throughout the world and have become the hot trend for the economically mobile.

An amazing array of stylish modernist prefabs are now available, including designs delivered complete to the site via trailer or tugboat, flat-packed house kits and even collapsible studios that can be moved via SUV and portable penthouses built to be flown from city rooftop to the country via helicopter. Weehouse, It House, Up! House, Bachkit, Smallhouse, Swellhouse, Corpod and Smartshax are just a few of the designer prefabs available.

Sizes and prices range from about $33,000 USD for an LV-Home kit by Missouri-based Rocio Romero to as much as a million dollars.

Prefab House - Photo © WHORANGE

Prefab House - Photo © WHORANGE
Prefab House - Photo © WHORANGE

Fabricating the Modern Dwelling, an exhibition at MoMA, New York

Prefab Housing - Some Pros and Cons

Utilizing unused rooftops, unbuildable lots, or a good set of wheels, the new prefab house is a highly designed answer to the new transitory population, rising property prices, restrictive zoning, and environmental concerns. On-site construction waste is reduced and most prefabs include optional environmentally friendly features such as bamboo flooring, solar or hybrid power systems and recycled materials...appealing to mid-to-upper-class modernist types who don't want a developer house in the suburbs but can't find affordable modernist architect-designed dwellings or the place to build them.

While the level of design, quality of craftsmanship is extremely high there are still many obstacles to owning a prefab with any relatively new concept there are problems associated in regards to zoning, etc. As many of these houses can be considered mobile they either be looked upon favourably or not, according to local building codes and regulations...however, in time these regulations will change. In some cases prefab housing can be built where traditional housing is not allowed by zoning laws. Therefore land that is considered unbuildable, and therefore inexpensive, can in fact become the site for one of these homes. In addition these houses are generally much easier to install on difficult or restricted sites once again taking advantage of land that otherwise would be considered unbuildable.

Prefab Housing - A Global Trend

Probably the country which is producing the most evolved, stylish and well designed new homes is Australia, with New Zealand following suit. This followed by the US and then most Northern European countries. In fact the first and most successful prefabricated houses where build in Scandinavia and in fact up to 90% of houses in Sweden are either prefabricated or modular structures. Clearly a country where wood construction is the norm is more adept to accepting the relatively lightweight construction of prefab homes whereas in southern Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy and France, that are accustomed to building in stone or cement, only 5% of homes are prefab or modular. However this is rapidly changing as property prices soar.

In Eastern Europe and the UK, low quality and poorly planned housing developments gave prefab a bad name, but a variety of more successful prefab housing schemes have cropped up recently. IKEA has recently had a huge boom in selling their flat pack house BoKlok throughout northern Europe with various entire communities planned in the UK to help solve the ever increasing housing shortage. IKEA has brought to the market not only flatpack one and two-bedroom homes but also entire communities with modernist prefab houses and apartments. There are now 45 BoKlok (Live Smart) prefab communities in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. BoKlok homes are designed with Ikea's Scandinavian minimalist ethos but they're geared towards lower income families, particularly single-parent and so-called 'micro-families'.

Post War Prefab - Photo © Jon Bennett

Post War Prefab - Photo © Jon Bennett
Post War Prefab - Photo © Jon Bennett

The Future of Prefab Housing

The latest prefab and modular houses are now aiming for the wealthier market...not only because of the new demand but also because until these houses are mass produced costs are not that much cheaper than traditional housing...and in some cases more so. There's no question that mod prefabs tend to be too expensive even for the young, idealistic architects designing them but once this trend takes hold the costs of prefab housing should make them a viable alternative for those looking for a high level of design and flexibility in the housing market.

Prefab Housing Made Easy!

Books about Prefab Design - Read before you build!

Prefab Prototypes: Site-Specific Design for Offsite Construction
Prefab Prototypes: Site-Specific Design for Offsite Construction

Prefabricated construction is a hot topic in architecture these days, and for good reason. Prospective homebuilders around the world are gravitating to prefab as an environ-mentally responsible and cost-effective way to achieve that holiest of grails: an affordable, well-designed house. If you're hoping to jump onto this bandwagon or are just interested in what prefab building really entails, Prefab Prototypes is required reading. While other prefab books on the market show what can be done, dan...

PreFab Now
PreFab Now

An in-depth look at state-of-the-art prefabricated and modular homes—the most popular, economical, and stylish options in housing today PreFab Now explores the best prefabricated houses on the market today worldwide and addresses the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a prefab home over a custom-built one. This book also covers cost, sustainability, and durability. With a wealth of elaborate plans, drawings, renderings, and beautiful full-color images, PreFab Now is an invaluable resource for architects and homebuyers alive.

PreFab Home
PreFab Home

The Prefab Home looks at the emerging world of prefabricated or modular housing, and delves into how new advances are being made to create prefab homes in the popular and widespread Arts & Crafts style of the early twentieth century. When Michael Buchanan set out to find ways to build a house more cost-effectively, he turned to prefab construction. He wanted to pursue his dream without sacrificing his sense of style, all while staying within a realistic budget. What he discovered about the possibilities of cost-efficient prefabricated housing will astound and amaze anyone who thinks "prefab" necessarily means "double-wide!" < BR> The book traces the home's creation from beginning design phases, through production at the factory, to placement and assembly onsite, to interior design and decoration. The whole process was filmed and will be featured as a special episode for "This Old House", to air on PBS this spring and then syndicate to other stations. < BR>

Prefab Modern
Prefab Modern

For many, the idea of prefab housing may bring to mind trailers and other less desirable images of home life. But this idea couldn't be more wrong! Rather, the newest trends in prefab has emerged as a great way for a design- (and cost-) conscious generation to achieve the dream of home ownership. Today, prefab houses are manufactured to the highest standards of construction and aesthetics. And with the internet, these houses can be ordered from all over the world--affording people everywhere th...


Prefab presents a series of innovative homes and concepts that boldly demonstrate that this is not your grandmother's prefab, offers a glimpse into the history of prefabricated housing over the last century, and reveals a wealth of practical and attractive alternatives to the status quo. Prefab discusses architects, builders, and designers such as Walter Gropius and Philippe Starck, examines the historical precedents from Albert Frey's Corbusier-inspired Aluminaire house to Kisho Kurokawa's capsules, and showcases the work of twenty-four contemporary architects and designers who are exploring the myriad possibilities that prefabrication offers for housing of the future. From the fantastical digitized aluminum prototypes of Gregg Lynn to the stylish functionality of Ikea's prefabricated apartments in Sweden, Prefab presents a series of innovative homes and space-saving concepts that show how far this building technique has come-and how far it can go. < BR> Allison Arieff is a writer, senior editor of the architecture magazine dwell, and co-author of Trailer Travel. She is also the editor of several books on art and culture, including Airstream: A History of the Land Yacht and Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop. She lives in San Francisco. < BR> Bryan Burkhart is the designer and co-author of Airstream: The History of the Land Yacht and Trailer Travel: A Visual History of Mobile America. As creative director of his own firm, Modernhouse, he has designed books for Taschen, Chronicle Books, and Gibbs Smith, Publisher. Burkhart also lives in San Francisco. < BR>

Contemporary Prefab Houses
Contemporary Prefab Houses

Contemporary prefab design is on the rise, becoming more and more popular every day. Is it a wonder why? Once blasted as a cheap building system that harkened back to the days when homeowners could order a home from the Sears, Robuck &Co. catalogue, contemporary prefab has blossomed into a viable industry that has created an unmatched enthusiasm for better living standards in today's modern world. An ever-increasing body of talented architects and designers, includinig the many practioners showcased within this book are striving to make prefab the next revolution in residential architecture. The projects are presented in alphabetical order of the respective architects and designers. An index with contact information is enclosed.

The Prefabricated Home
The Prefabricated Home

From sash windows and ceramic tiles to barracks and warehouses, industrialized building has thrived since the nineteenth century in Europe and America. Yet architects have neglected this area of practical construction in favor of historical, theoretical, and artistic analyses, resulting in the emergence of an influential building industry with architects on the far margins. Colin Davies explores in The Prefabricated Home how the relationship between architecture and industrialized building has now become an urgent issue for architects. The Prefabricated Home outlines the methods and motives of prefabricated buildings and assesses their architectural implications. Davies traces the origins of the branded building phenomenon with examples ranging from the Dymaxion bathroom to IKEA's "Bo Klok" house. He also analyzes the use of industrialized buildings worldwide—including McDonald's drive-through restaurants and contrasts the aesthetic concerns of architects against the economic ones of industrialized building manufacturers. Ultimately, The Prefabricated Home proposes a partnership of architects and industrialized building that could potentially produce an exciting new type of humane and eco-conscious architecture. (06/03/2005)

New Prefab Architecture
New Prefab Architecture

This book presents examples of prefabricated architecturein a contemporary context, with specialemphasis on more ecological models. Prefabricatedconstructions represent a more effective use ofresources, a reduction in construction time and a minimizationof the generation of waste. These attributesimply a reduction in the ecological footprint of suchconstructions, and in the case of residential architecturemay represent the optimum balance between thesize of the module and the real time it will be used for.As well as offering new solutions for prefabricatedhomes, New Prefab, also focuses on cases related toephemeral architecture (stands, mobile offices, pavilions),situational architecture (refuges, informationcenters) or public installations.


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    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      I have looked into this type of housing, It is well made and depending upon where you live they can be designed to meet local building codes. Most companies claim that since they are constructed indoors they have much better control over quality.

    • nanafisher profile image


      5 years ago

      great design concept, could be a possibility for my grandson and his child....thanks

    • profile image

      Deadicated LM 

      5 years ago

      Very interesting designs/concepts; here in NY they make it very difficult to think outside of the box, we have a very powerful construction lobby.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Very interesting trends in prefabricated homes. Some beautiful designs.

    • BlogsWriter profile image


      5 years ago

      Enjoyed the house in the photo, it is magnificent. Prefabricated homes are a trend now.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      enjoyed this lens! love some of the current designs and trends!

    • AllThingsPotter profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice to read the pros and cons and it looks like the pros win.

    • casquid profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes, the lens was interesting. There are many ways to look at pre-fab housing now. You have opened my eyes.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      6 years ago

      I sure did enjoy this lens. I like everything light, functional and minimal. Pre-fab housing could be perfect when we move next.

    • easyflatpax lm profile image

      easyflatpax lm 

      6 years ago

      There are many manufacturers selling wooden prefabricated villas of all shapes and sizes here on the Ciosta Blanca. Unfortunately I was persuaded to buy the normal bricks and cement building. I say unfortunately, because the the whole concept of prefabricated buildings is the future as far as I'm concerned. Prefabricated furniture has become the norm, why not houses?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      In some situations, prefab homes are the best option.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting and informative lens on prefab homes. These kind of homes has gained immense popularity because of the several benefits they offer.

    • priscillab profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting. I used to think this kind of home was boring but I see I was wrong.

    • TTMall profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for such an informative lens.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      6 years ago from Virginia

      Great lens. I enjoy reading about modular, tiny and my personal fave these days, homes built from shipping containers. Great job and hope to see more like this. Sent an angel blessing winging your way.

    • kathysart profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow, prefab homes have come a long way.. so impressed with the modern designs. Angel blessed lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you Debs for your awesome lens on "Prefabricated Homes".

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey great lens with useful information, good work done :)


      homes for sale

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens! Modular homes are probably the most misunderstood construction in the industry right now. Most people put 'site built' homes on a pedestal of superior construction. Almost all 'site builders' are bringing to site preformed roof trusses and in some cases wall panels already constructed. I've been in this industry for years and I know the stigma that modular homes have associated with them. If you are building a new home this is the way to go!

    • Homelust profile image


      7 years ago

      Modular home's are awesome!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Lens! agree with them, you can easily find modular home nowadays

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like your site on modular and prefab homes. We are designing and building a lot more modulars now and I've noticed that there are more luxury home options for prefab and modular. We are designing a contemporary modular home in Mclean Virignia. If you are interested please take a look:luxurymodularhomes

    • Christene-S profile image


      8 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Those first couple of images are not what I expected. They look really cool actually.

    • MagpieNest profile image


      8 years ago

      I saw one of these on Grand Designs and thought it seemed a very sensible way to build new houses. I would love to see that MoMA exhibition. I guess watching a video is the next best thing. Glad you shared it.

    • Demaw profile image


      9 years ago

      Could be an inexpensive way to build a custom home. 5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi. Nice lens, I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing this! 5 Stars!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I really like this lens, great job. My wife and I would love to go prefab in the future.

    • steveffeo lm profile image

      steveffeo lm 

      9 years ago

      Wow very cool lens Prefabs are the way to go high 5


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