Prefab homes have become very popular over the past years, especially with the tiny/small house movement taking off through the HGTV network. But just because a house is tiny or a prefab, doesn’t mean it’s affordable. Sure, buying a 158 square foot house for under $30,000 sounds like a smokin’ deal if you just look at the price tag, but if you figure out the square foot price, it’s really not all that affordable. I’ve come across hundreds of companies that build beautiful prefabs, but as soon as I figure out the pricing (prefab + cost of land + land preparation), it becomes less attainable usually averaging somewhere around $250 square feet and up (and that’s just for the building without factoring in the land cost).
Yet, I recently came across a company that builds prefabs with the idea that they should be affordable, not just cute and cliche. The company is called Metro Prefab and they build three kinds of prefab structures depending on the utility: cabin series, zip series, and structure series. The Cabin Series functions as a guest house, studio or office starting as low as $20000. The Zip Series is a permit-exempt, DIY office, guest house or studio starting at $15,650. This series has a foundation that comes with the kit and can be assembled by two people, which is pretty impressive.
Then there’s the Shelter Series, a structure that offers an affordable housing option. As architect Ed Binkley states:
Most small housing is still outside the price range of those in the most need. The intention of this concept is to address the affordability, livability and design style factors that many buyers desire.
The Shelter 640 is 640 square feet and starts at $47,300, which comes out to around $74 per square foot; very reasonable even when compared to the cost per square foot in most states….and especially California where square foot price in the metro areas starts at around $300 (of course, the land comes with the house and isn’t factored into the square foot price). The benefit to this series is that it can be built on a lot as small as 30’x60′ which means even if land is hard to come by, you don’t need a huge lot to build on.
As for my own home buying status, well, all I can say is housing is going up, up, up and I’m just not willing to invest $400,000 in a crap shack. No, no, no. I’m extending my time frame to next October in hopes that the housing market will slow down a bit (Oh sunny California, why must you be so damn expensive!? Even our gas is $1.00-$2.00 per gallon more than everyone else’s!) If not, I might just do something dramatic!