Question: Barry asks: Are prefab homes more sustainable than conventional built homes? What types of green prefab homes are available and what do they cost compared to conventional homes? Are there any prefab home manufacturers?
Yes, pre-fab homes are more sustainable due to being constructed in a controlled factory environment, resulting in higher quality control, better moisture control, less on-site labor, lower construction waste and reduction in transportation to and from the site.
Moisture control will greatly impact the energy performance of the home itself. For instance, installing batt insulation on-site in a conventional home increases the chance of trapping moisture inside the exterior walls. The moisture will then rot the insulation, decreasing the home’s resistance quality as well as producing mold.
Compare this to constructing air-tight envelopes with as high as R-30 continuous insulation on the exterior walls to minimize thermal breaks, resulting in a well-insulated pre-fab home.
Less on-site labor
This is a cost-saving measure as the construction is fast and automated with prefab home manufacturers. On-site labor can cost roughly 50% of the fee to build a house conventionally – depending where you are. Less on-site labor also contribute to lower construction waste on-site.
Cost per Square Foot
Generally, prefab homes cost less than conventionally built homes by as much as 5% to 25%. The reason for the lower cost is that the construction company would not have to factor in weather delays or vandalism during construction. Also, the construction company can buy high quality products at larger discounts and pass on the savings to you.
Costs can vary between $190/SQFT to $300/SQFT depending on the overall square feet of the pre-fab home, transportation costs, quality, and specifications. The most common price I have seen is $275/ SQFT (pre-transportation costs).
Prefab Home Manufacturers:
Here is a list of prefab home manufacturers to help you start your search for the right green home.
- Revision Architecture (Philadelphia, PA)
- PieceHomes (Los Angeles, CA)
- Blu Homes (Boston, MA) – collaborating with Michelle Kauffman Design
- Hive Modular (Minneapolis, MN)
- Modular Homes, Inc.(Edison, NJ)
- h-haus (Santa Fe, NM)
- kitHAUS (CA)
- Method Homes (multiple states)