How Prefab Houses Work


Prefab Around the Globe
A prefab home on Block Island, R.I., circa 1967
A prefab home on Block Island, R.I., circa 1967
John G. Zimmerman/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

In the United States, the Northeast has been the biggest adopter of modern prefab because of the area's lack of land, shorter building season and higher cost of labor. Because of environmental advances (see sidebar) and the high cost of real estate, California has also become a player in the prefab market. Since Hurricane Katrina and the housing slump, the South has also increased its number of prefabricated houses. Many of these are low-cost housing, but some manufacturers have added environmental benefits, like energy efficiency, which increases their value. Plus, these prefabricated houses get positive reviews for aesthetics, durability -- including wind rating of a 150 mph -- and price over the infamous FEMA trailers.

European countries have embraced prefab housing because of land constraints. Companies in England and Germany use cranes to set modular units atop pre-existing buildings. In Sweden, hip home furnisher Ikea has expanded into the homebuilding business. Appealing to a workforce that cannot afford to live in the higher-priced cities, Ikea has sold thousands of its Live Smart ("BoKlok") apartments.

In space-deprived Japan, car maker Toyota has expanded into home-building. Just as its auto assembly plants have gotten a reputation for efficiency, so have its modular housing production centers. And because the housing is made under the strict confines of its factories, Toyota can market it as durable and sturdy enough to endure earthquakes, which are common in Japan.

For more information on prefab housing and related topics, check out the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links

Sources

  • Alchemy Architects. Wee houses. http://www.weehouses.com.
  • Binsacca, Rich. Kit Homes. Guilford, Conn.: Morris Book Publishing, 2006.
  • Bryce, Robert. "Builders Plan Straw Houses That Withstand Huffing and Puffing." The Christian Science Monitor. 26 Apr. 1994: 9.
  • Buchanan, Michael. "Cinderella Story: Defying expectations, modular homes innovate, upgrade and turn heads." http://www.housemedianetwork.com/archive/article.php?issue=12&dept=2&id=173&pg=1
  • Central Michigan University: Clarke Historical Library. http://clarke.cmich.edu/aladdin/Aladdin.htm
  • Dwellmagazine.com. http://www.dwell.com/homes/dwellhomes/3062781.html.
  • Eaton, Leslie. "Katrina Victims Find a Solution: Modular House." The New York Times. 6 Jan. 2007: A1.
  • Elliott, Monica. "Adaptable architecture: Lean techniques are a solid foundation for industrial engineers in home manufacturing." Industrial Engineer. Sept. 2005: 29-33.
  • Fab Prefab, http://www.fabprefab.com/
  • Goldberger, Paul. "Some Assembly Required." The New Yorker. Oct. 17, 2005. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/10/17/051017crsk_skyline.
  • Gregory, Daniel. "Modern prefab." Sunset. Aug. 2004: 67-73.
  • Jana, Reena. BusinessWeek. "Prefab Homes Get Fabulous." Nov. 1, 2005.http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/oct2005/id20051026_962297.htm.
  • Johnson, Wes. The Manufactured Home Buyer's Handbook. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005.
  • Kageyama, Yuri. "Toyota homeward bound: Japanese auto giant also makes homes on efficient assembly line." The Chicago Sun-Times. 2 July 2006: S1.
  • Koones, Sheri. Prefabulous: The House of Your Dreams Delivered Fresh from the Factory. Newton, Connecticut: Taunton Press, 2007.
  • Lacayo, Richard. "They're All Absolutely Prefabulous." Time. 15 Apr. 2004: 26.
  • Lawrence, Robyn Griggs. "A Fabulous Green Prefabricated Home: Living in L.A." Natural Home Magazine, July 2007. http://www.naturalhomemagazine.com/article/2007/07/living-in-la.html
  • Manufactured Housing Institute. http://www.manufacturedhousing.org/about_us/
  • Modular Homes Directory USA. http://modularhomes.info/
  • Money-zine.com. "Buying a Manufactured Home." http://www.money-zine.com/Financial-Planning/Buying-a-Home/Buying-a-Manufactured-Home/
  • National Association of Home Builders. http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=455&genericContentID=41909
  • Nichols, Wally. "Modern Prefab: Paul Livornese's prefabricated modern home just may fulfill the long-held promise of modernism: affordability." http://www.housemedianetwork.com/archive/article.php?issue=37&dept=8&id=613&pg=1
  • Rocio Romero. http://www.rocioromero.com/LVSeries/pdf/LVS_BUILD.pdf.
  • Sbranti, J.N. "Home, Sweet Manufactured Home: They're inexpensive, even fancy, owners say, but do research." The Modesto Bee. 21 May 2006: D1.
  • Sears Archives. "What is a Sears Modern Home?" http://www.searsarchives.com/homes/
  • Skari, Tala. "Absolutely Prefabulous." Time International. 24 Apr. 2006: 16.
  • The Dwell Homes. http://www.thedwellhome.com/
  • The New Prefabricated Homes, Cabins and Buildings. http://www.prefabexpo.com/
  • The Old House Web. "Sears Kit Houses." http://www.oldhouseweb.com/stories/Features/Sears_Kit_Houses/
  • Tolme, Paul. "Design: Beyond the Trailer Park." Newsweek. 15 Sept. 2003: 66.
  • Library. http://www.lib.umd.edu/NTL/kithomes.html
  • Varney, James. "Cottage Industry: NOLA Homebuilders takes on the FEMA trailer with its bungalow." The Times-Picayune. 6 Sept. 2006: 1.
  • Wasserman, Jim. "Homes ready to roll: Factory-built houses getting upscale look." The Sacramento Bee. 8 Apr. 2007: D1.

­­

More to Explore