Monday, September 8, 2008

Modern Kit Houses: Thinking Inside the Box

October 15, 2004
HAVENS: LIVING HERE; Modern Kit Houses: Thinking Inside the Box

WHO -- Andrew Reid, 33, a mortgage lender, and his wife, Kindra, 29, a law student, from Kirkland Washington.
WHAT -- 3-bedroom Glide house
WHERE -- Chelan, Wash.

Andrew: Here's the kind of thing we'd hear all the time when we'd tell people about the house: ''You're building a mobile home that costs what?'' Even when it was finished, friends would come out and they'd walk around and say: ''Wait, you mean it doesn't have wheels?''

Kindra: We're at the forefront of a new building movement. Manufactured homes, modular construction and prefab housing have been around a long time, but this is something more hybrid, more high-tech than that. The house is stick-built just like any traditional home, but the building happens off-site in a warehouse. Then the house is transported to the site and placed on a foundation.

Andrew: For people like us who live in the Northwest, land of endless rain, it's perfect. The house gets built in ideal dry conditions. All of the materials used are eco-friendly.

Kindra: What's really magic about the house is its beauty. Outside, it's somewhat industrial looking, but inside it's a celebration of nature. There are bamboo floors, wooden cabinets. There's rugged stone tile in the bathroom, and when you stand in the shower, the floor feels like real ground. I used to associate contemporary with cold, impersonal spaces, but this house has completely changed that. It's like living in a Japanese garden. We're on a bluff, and we look out the walls of glass at Lake Chelan and views of high desert surrounded by mountains. It's amazing to walk around in here now and think back to July when it arrived, in two pieces, at the site. As told to Bethany Lyttle

Information was provided by the manufacturers.

MANUFACTURER -- Michelle Kaufmann Designs, Los Angeles
WHAT -- 3-bedroom Glide house
HOW MUCH -- About $120 a square foot

Finishing, floors, windows, walls and paint are included, but the foundation and transportation are extra. Built in a factory using environmentally responsible materials, this 1,566-square-foot house can be ready in as few as four months. It comprises a series of shallow buildings, which can be placed in several configurations. The house can be customized for solar, geothermal or wind power. There are 2.5 bathrooms. (415) 462-0561;

MANUFACTURER -- Clever Homes, San Francisco
WHAT -- 3-bedroom SA1 ''NowHouse''
HOW MUCH -- About $48 a square foot

This house is 46 percent glass. It has a fixed-price floor plan, which includes a roof, walls, bamboo floors, external walls, partitions, aluminum-clad windows, doors, insulation and a rough staircase. The plan can be modified for a two-story house and enlarged to as many as five bedrooms. The emphasis is on green, sustainable materials for both building and finishing. (415) 344-0806;

MANUFACTURER -- Alchemy Architects, St. Paul
WHAT -- 1-bedroom weeHouse
HOW MUCH -- $49,000

This 436-square-foot house was designed to be easily shipped on highways. The house can be expanded with additional modules. A screened-in porch can be added for about $2,000. It is finished and includes hardwood floors, insulated windows, a kitchen, a full bathroom with tile floors, lighting and walls. It has an oxidized steel exterior and fir interior. It arrives with wiring and plumbing that is ready to be hooked up. Heating is by woodstove. The price includes delivery, but not a foundation. (651) 647-6650;

MANUFACTURER -- Rocio Romero, Perryville, Mo.
WHAT -- 2-bedroom LV Home Kit
HOW MUCH -- About $97 a square foot

Designed to be used as a second home, the LV Home is 1,150 square feet and has two full bathrooms. The price includes the exterior shell package but not windows, interior walls, doors, cabinets or internal finishing. The house has nine-foot ceilings and large window openings. The bathrooms are tiled from floor to ceiling. The exterior walls are made of steel coated with an aluminum-zinc alloy. The house can also be configured with one bedroom and one bathroom. (573) 768-6116;

MANUFACTURER -- Resolution: 4 Architecture, New York City
WHAT -- 4-bedroom Z-Series 3-Bar Bridge
HOW MUCH -- $150 to $175 a square foot

One of several baseline designs, this house's floor plan and structure can be modified and customized. The price includes a foundation, walls, energy-efficient windows, bamboo flooring, appliances, tile, fixtures, countertops, paint, eco-friendly ventilation and heating and flooring. No finishing is necessary. Almost all of the roof areas have been designed for use as outdoor space. The two-story house uses a bridge design, which connects three modular units. (212) 675-9266;

MANUFACTURER -- Royal Homes, Wingham, Ontario
WHAT -- 2-bedroom Royal Q1
HOW MUCH -- About $100,000

This is specifically intended for use as a second home. The two-bedroom unit is 620 square feet and has a full bathroom. There are two picture windows, which can be installed on the sides or ends of the unit. One interior wall has built-in cabinets. All building materials are environmentally friendly. There are options for countertops, floors and fixtures. Royal Homes is not licensed to provide foundations outside Ontario and Michigan. (416) 346-5738;

* Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

No comments: