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In praise of prefabricated housing

Published May 19, 2007

Prefab homes today include a wealth of building materials, features and styles, like this house.
[Taunton Press]

In a post-Katrina world, with an emphasis on building homes faster and at a lower cost, the spotlight has turned to prefabricated housing, which is built in factories and assembled on site. But "prefab" still means "shoebox" to many potential buyers: cheap, boxy, featureless.

Think again. In Prefabulous (Taunton Press, $25), author Sheri Koones explores the variety of building systems that fall under the heading "prefab": modular, panelized, structural insulated panels, log, timberframe, concrete, steel and hybrids.

She shows a variety of homes, from colonials to mountain chalets, from tropicals to modern, and includes floor plans. She explains cost, energy-efficiency, construction techniques and customization.

"We'd never agree to have a new car assembled in our driveway or a new dishwasher put together on our kitchen floor, " architect Sarah Susanka says in the book's foreword. "For some reason many of us have no problem assuming that a house assembled on site is going to produce a better quality product than one built in a factory. It just isn't so."

Susanka is a leader of the "not-so-big" movement toward smaller but more detailed and functional homes. She writes: "Prefab is definitely an idea whose time has come."


[Last modified May 18, 2007, 20:54:19]

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