The term prefab is often confused with "double-wides" or trailers, which are also built in a factory. But these houses are often called manufactured houses and are compliant with the HUD code. These houses are delivered on their own wheels, which can never be removed. Although these houses serve many very well, these are not the houses that I refer to here. The prefab houses I write about are compliant with the local codes, are shipped on flatbed trucks and sometimes barges and are permanent structures, as are all site-built homes.
Prefabricated houses are growing in popularity in this country and around the world for a variety of reasons. They are faster to build, are built in a controlled environment, protecting the materials from the elements, are closely supervised, are environmentally more friendly and present many fewer surprises than occur on site-built houses, such as change orders. In some cases there is also a savings in cost. The advantages are numerous and when homebuilders become aware of all the advantages they often opt to take that route to building their new home.
With the expansion of methods to build prefab, so have the styles that are now available. While researching my latest book -- Prefabulous World: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Homes Around the Globe -- I found incredibly interesting houses being built in the United States and in all corners of the world. Many were built to adapt to the local environment -- such as the Archway Studios in England, Casa Isemi in Costa Rica and Eddi's House in Japan. Other houses were built with unique design and material esthetics -- such as the WorldFlex Home in Denmark.
All of these houses wowed me as I hope they will you.
All photographs in this article are from Prefabulous World: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Homes around the Globe, published by Abrams in 2014, written by Sheri Koones and with a foreword by Robert Redford.