Manufacturing houses and house parts off-site is not a new idea. The first pre-fabs were timber frames shipped by British missionaries all over the world. Since then, large and small parts of residential structures have been manufactured and marketed in every imaginable format. Sears & Robuck made a successful venture of prefabricated homes in the 1800s. After World War II, the U.S. government funded Operation Breakthrough, which spawned dozens of manufacturing initiatives, some of which are still with us today. Prefabricated kitchens have become the norm in most homes built today. And virtually all windows and doors, originally built one at a time, are now sophisticated products from the assembly line.
The combination of passing time, shrinking resources and a new generation of homeowners has led to the current resurgence in this house making approach. This is currently the very best way to get a green, custom home that fits your site and your lifestyle while maintaining an affordable budget. But it is not "free lunch". It will rarely reduce first costs by more than 20% and the lead time is often about the same as that for a stick built home. What's most distinctive about prefab delivery is the predictability. Once designed, the price does not increase and the schedule does not creep.
This online class provides a general survey of the different methods available to the potential homeowner who is interested in creating a green, custom prefabricated home. Through a combination of weekly interactive video discussions, a guided design process utilizing SketchUp software, participants will prototype a factory-friendly design and strategy to maximize this affordable green architecture.