This smaller prefab dwelling sits down the hill from the main house, complementing its style and offering a private living space for guests.
Prefab homes are increasingly popular in the eco-friendly housing market.
By Becca Blond
Photos by Stillwater Dwellings
When it came time to purchase their first “new” home, Richard and Vicky Nunamaker of Cedaredge, Colo., decided to go the prefab route. It’s a growing trend among homebuyers, for a number of reasons.
The Nunamakers’ goal for their prefab home (aka “modular” home) was to bring the outdoors in by having huge windows and sliding glass doors on both the south and north ends of their home, located on the Western Slope.
“We went from a 1919 Arts and Crafts home to a prefab because we liked the contemporary design that perfectly fit with our lifestyle,” Richard says. “Stillwater Dwellings was able to provide exactly what we were looking for in a modular home. We appreciated their craftsmanship and high-quality materials, and the unique architectural features, like the butterfly roof.”
A staple in the early 1900s when companies like Sears and Roebuck sold made-to-assemble houses via catalogs, today’s prefab homes have come a long way from simply ordering a house that you assemble on-site. In today’s market, the prefab modular home is very much a part of the eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
A study by the National Association of Home Builders estimates that building a single 2,000-square-foot stick-built home at a job site generates 8,000 pounds of waste material, mostly wood, cardboard and drywall—almost all of which ends up in landfills.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that construction waste accounts for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s solid waste.
By comparison, the waste from a prefab manufacturing facility is much less. In a traditional construction site, all waste gets chucked into the same dumpster. At a prefab factory, homes are constructed off-site and specific-use dumpsters along the production line allow workers to sort, reuse and repurpose items. “A big reason for choosing prefab was the tremendous reduction in waste,” Richard says. “Upon completion, the leftover materials fit in the back of a pickup truck.”
Prefab homes also tend to be highly energy efficient, and since they’re built off-site in a controlled indoor environment, prefabs offer faster construction, no weather delays and precision machining, plus plentiful designs. “That was what sold us,” Richard says, “the design, and the ability to easily make design modifications.”
But these advantages don’t mean prefabs are cheaper than traditional homes. Square-footage prices can be comparable to, or even surpass, stick-built homes. Yet, cheaper prefabs are available if you’re willing to shave off square footage. The housing market is exploding with prefab manufacturers, so you can find designs to fit most budgets. Additional price tags include owning the land to put the prefab on and building a foundation for the home.
Still, more buyers are taking a look at this option, and for good reasons.