Prefabricated Modular Homes: Engineering Meets Architecture
Prefabricated homes, also called prefab homes, have been built on and off throughout the 20th century. Ever since mass-production and industrialization became widespread, there have been people in architecture, in design, and in government office, who looked to manufactured housing as a solution to the industrialized world’s housing ills.
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What are prefabricated homes? Unlike “modular home” and “manufactured home,” the term “prefabricated home” does not have a precise definition within the housing industry. It is a colloquial phrase. It refers to the notion of a house built far from the site where it is intended to stand. In this way, a factory can theoretically build a large quantity of identical homes in an assembly line fashion. Then, the structures can be transported to many different locations, either as complete buildings, or in several separate components. When prefabricated homes are transported to their final destination in several components, they are considered to be prefabricated modular homes.
Lately more and more and more architects and engineers are starting to recognize the aesthetic potential and practical utility of prefabricated homes. One of the first architects to do so was Buckminster Fuller during the late 1920′s, with his dome-shaped Dymaxion House. The Dymaxion House was one of the first prefabricated homes especially designed to be easier to build and to use resources more efficiently than conventional site-built houses. These days, Richard Rogers, designer of Paris’s innovative Pompidou Center, is continuing the legacy of Buckminster Fuller. Rogers is building innovative prefabricated homes in the town of Milton Keynes, England.
Modern technology is keeping pace with modern architectural thought. Today’s technology has come to the point where manufacturers can produce prefabricated modular homes that look indistinguishable from site-built homes once they are assembled at their final destination. Prefabricated homes can now be built in a greater and greater variety of styles. The criticism that was leveled at Fuller’s Dymaxion House–that it assumed every home buyer was the same, and that, if built on a large scale, it would turn neighborhoods into a honeycomb of identical dwellings–can no longer be leveled at today’s prefabricated homes.
Today’s prefabricated home can be a sprawling ranch house or a modernist masterpiece. It can have two rooms or 20. With prefabricated modular homes, in particular, there is an infinite variety of customization options. A buyer who gets really involved in the process can custom-order the prefabricated home of his or her dreams, while paying a fraction of the price required to erect even the most ordinary site-built home.
The fact is, prefabricated homes continue to be sturdier and more affordable than site-built homes, simply because of the advantage of having a controlled environment for their construction. As a result, more and more homebuyers are starting to look to prefabricated homes–and, in particular, prefabricated modular homes–as the ideal housing solution. The attractive appearance and low cost of prefabricated homes are seducing buyers, and urban design lovers, at an unprecedented rate.
Areas where we build:
- Western North Carolina
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Black Mountain, North Carolina
- Buncombe County, North Carolina
- Blue Ridge Mountains