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Home > Feature Articles > Sustainable Development Best Practices for Community Sustainability

Prefabulous + Sustainable is a guided tour through today's prefab homes

Prefab homes have come of age with new design, construction and material innovations. This book walks you through a variety of the choices available for sustainable housing options.

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Construction is undergoing a transformation in which stick-build homes aren't always the most economical or most energy-efficient choices. "Prefabulous + Sustainable" is a new book by Sheri Koones that "Dispels Negative Myths about Prefab Homes and Shows how Beautiful and Green They Can Be".

Sheri demystifies the prefabricated house by profiling 25 unique homes to showcase how factory-built homes are greener, more efficient, sturdier, and more cost-effective than site-built homes. The book is divided into three categories—green, greener, greenest—and the homes featured vary in style, design, type of construction, and size. All of the homes included in Prefabulous + Sustainable have been customized to create a level of sustainability beyond the inherent qualities of prefab.

Prefabulous + Sustainable book of prefab house designs | Sheri Koones

Wouldn't you like to be walked through each of these prefab homes, having a knowledgeable guide explain the materials, strategies, and systems used to create a sustainable living environment? Add photographs, captions, floor plans, and sidebars to illustrate how green living is not as complicated as one might think, and attainable for everyone. Then include a resource guide, and you have a handy guidebook that is a hands-on guide for homebuilders. And homeowner-dreamers.

Here's an interview with Sheri Koones about the prefab marketplace...

What prefab technologies are included in your showcased homes? SIPs, etc?

"Houses in Prefabulous + Sustainable were built with a variety of prefab methods - modular, SIPs, panelized, steel frame and timber frame. There is a variety of levels of prefabricated components but all are partially or almost completely built in a factory."

Are there regional specialties that home owners need to be aware of? Transporting prefabs can be expensive and not-so-green...

"Prefab houses are built throughout the country. There are examples in the book in VT, FL, WA, CA, TX and many places in between. Location can help determine the type of prefabricated method that will be used.

"It is more reasonable to build modular if there is a factory in that state or within a 200 mile radius. SIPs, panelized, steel frame and timber frame can be shipped a further distance.

"These can all be considered green, even with the transportation since in general employees at prefab factories live within 5 miles of work - compared to contractors and their workers who can travel great distances to a site for 6 to 12 months or more. In addition - many of the materials in a prefab factory can be reused. Cutoffs from one house can be used on another.

"In addition, many modular factories recycle certain debris - such as drywall and metal. All of these recycled materials would end up in a dumpster, which the homeowner would be paying for - the materials and dumpster. Prefab houses are generally built stronger, so they last longer. Because the materials are protected from the elements, they are less likely to twist, rot or develop mildew later on. People should think of this the same way as the construction of a car. How many of us would be comfortable having parts of a car dropped off and put together in the driveway. We prefer car companies to do this - companies with the expertise and machinery to build a car in a professional manner.

"Houses should be built with the same precision."

What are the top 3 money savers to compare for a homeowner considering competitive prefab options?

"Several options are available by prefab companies. Some modular manufacturers, for example offer spray foam insulation, as an option This will decrease heating and cooling costs. Kitchens can be built by a modular company which will generally cost less than having a company do it on-site. Custom trim work can be done in the factory and will generally cost substantially less than custom carpenters on site."

Look forward to shedding light on your prefab book ... this could be a great way to modernize the construction industry :-)

"You are right. There are so many reasons to consider prefab construction - I can't imagine why anyone would now build on-site."

By Carolyn Allen, interview with Sheri Koones



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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