5 Cool Prefab Housing Ideas

Nearly finished homes await final touches before shipping in Riverside, Calif. Want to learn more? Check out these home construction pictures!
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While we may still be reeling from an economic crisis caused in part by a burst housing bubble, the conventional wisdom among experts and everyday Americans alike is that owning a home remains a great investment. Renting an apartment or house is a great idea for a while, but if it continues for years, you're just throwing money away with nothing to show for it.

However, no one says the home you own has to be boring. Having a house doesn't have to mean owning some bland, inoffensive, gray-and-beige two-story box that looks identical to everything else on your street. Modern architecture has become increasingly popular, especially among younger homeowners. And now, thanks to advances in prefabrication, they're more accessible than ever.

Prefabricated homes, also called prefab or modular homes, have been around for decades. They're built in sections at a factory, then shipped to your neighborhood and assembled on-site by local contractors. This stands in contrast to most homes, which are created on-site from the ground up by builders.

While most people probably tend to think of those small, cheap-looking rectangular homes that are advertised on the highways outside major cities, lately, designers have been using some new prefabrication techniques to build cool and unique modern houses. They can feature sleek designs with zany colors, mixtures of metal, wood and glass and innovative uses of space. And besides having interesting designs, many modern prefab homes are also very "green" and are created to have a low impact on the planet.

We'll look at some cool concepts for homes that use prefab techniques, as well as existing modern homes that have garnered attention from all over the world. These aren't your grandfather's prefab houses!