Friday, March 12, 2010

Prefab Mansions? No Kidding

"New homes, even mansions, are assembled in days"
USA Today (March 4, 2010)

"Goodbye to long months of hammering and sawing! As factory-built U.S. housing options expand, new homes are being assembled onsite within days.

"These aren't just modest abodes. Prefabricated building, once associated with Mobile double-wides, has evolved so much that even modular mansions are now arriving in upscale neighborhoods.

"Within 32 hours last month, a 7,200-square-foot home (six bedrooms, six-and-half baths) was put together like a layer cake in Bethesda, Md., The Washington Post reports. To see how this worked, click here...."

Ah, for the good old days, when a homeowner could look forward to weeks - months - of construction time. With any luck, there'd be at least one drenching rain before the roof was sealed - but after water-sensitive interior elements were in place.

The richness of experience, the pathos, the depths of human experience, that people who have a house built will miss.

Somehow, I think they'll manage.

The article give a pretty good look at part of the construction industry that's changed - a lot - in my lifetime.

My own take is that modular housing makes good sense, if it's done right. The units are small enough to be fabricated inside, in climate-controlled conditions. Here in Minnesota, particularly, that's important.

I think I know what the reporter had in mind with that one paragraph: "These aren't just modest abodes. Prefabricated building, once associated with Mobile double-wides...."

That's the sort of modular house I see traveling through the small central Minnesota town I live in: two whacking great flatbed trucks, each carrying half a house and a 'wide load' sign, with about a quarter-mile separation between them.

I've been inside demo models of the things: and although it's hard to imagine a high-power industry executive living in one, once the two halves are joined and the utilities in place, you'd have to look for where the two halves come together.

I think it helps that many houses have a supporting wall extending their length - but I'm getting off-topic.

The article has a few photos: interesting and attractive, but I'd have liked to have seen more of how the things are put together - and how they look from the outside.

Picky, picky.

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