A few years back, when purchasing a home was completely out of the question and outside of our budget, I began to think creatively and come up with alternative options to owning our own home. One option that stood out amongst all others was ordering a prefab kit home. Prefab homes have been around for many years, some of the first affordable prefabs were the Lustron homes made of porcelain and steel in 1950. I was lucky enough to see one on display in New York last year at the MOMA. Unfortunately for the Lustron company, prefab homes didn’t catch on and Lustron went belly-up.
Today, there’s a new wave of prefab homes that incorporate many “green” elements, such as recycled wood and energy efficient designs. A few that I find aesthetically pleasing are Rocio Romero LV homes and the Marmol Radziner Skyline series. On a side note, Rocio Romero is more cost effective and within our budget. Some of the prefab’s I’ve encountered cost more than home’s selling in my neighborhood. Rocio Romero’s website also breaks down the costs of each home with past projects as a guide line.
There are also many little house plans that are incredibly unique and space-efficient, like the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Jay Shafer has created and designed some of the tiniest homes using space efficiently. Some of his smaller models fit on trailers and are portable, however I like some of his slightly larger stationery homes, like the Sebastarosa shown below. My father-in-law is newly retired, divorced, and has been playing with the idea of building a portable house on his trailer that he pulls behind his truck. Last Christmas I bought him one of the Tumbleweed books that has lots of creative designs he might eventually be able to use as a guide.
On top of being a cost-effective alternative to purchasing an older or newer home, prefabs give the purchaser more floor plan options. For instance, since you can choose the floor plan that works best with your family needs, there’s less space to be wasted. One thing I notice, especially in new homes, is wasted space in houses. My sister-in-law purchased a brand new home a couple of years ago and they opted for a loft on the second floor. They now regret selecting this option since no one in their family uses it. They also had chosen a dual-staircase model, but ended up with one ‘L’ shaped staircase instead. Sometimes, when you work with a development model, you end up with altered floor plans. When purchasing a prefab kit, you order exactly what you want, no surprises when you move in.
Another great bonus with prefab is location. Since you must purchase your land before you purchase your prefab, you can select exactly where you want to live. This can also be a drawback, however. In my neighborhood, we are completely land-locked. There’s not any available land for miles upon miles. We’re hindered by our surrounding mountains and suburban sprawl. In this case, if my husband and I were able to live in a space under 200 square feet, a Tumbleweed Tiny House might work. We could move from location to location with all of our belongings following behind us. From the beach to the desert, this 200 square foot home could travel just about anywhere.
We’re not ready for this quite yet.
If you’re interested in building your own tiny home, here’s a great book to get started:
Tiny House Design’s Pioneer Cabin House Plan: $9.95 Buy it Now
The 42-page e-book contains the framing plans, required lumber, and drawings for this structure.