By Sun Kim
Posting in Architecture
A profile of a couple who built a prefabricated home wonders if prefabricated really is more affordable.
Is a prefabricated house really a smarter choice financially? A New York Times article by Beth Greenfield profiles a couple who bought and built a prefabricated home that turned into their own unexpected version of a moneypit.
The couple, who had inherited land in the Catskills, wanted a home that was modern, minimalist, and affordable; all the usual reasons people choose prefabricated "kit" homes. They found and bought a home kit designed by architect Rocio Romero and hired a contractor. Their 1,450 square foot prefab cottage ended up costing over $100,000 more than they had expected.
The contractor they hired had assured them he could assemble the kit (which includes posts and beams, a plywood roof structure and siding) and complete the entire project for $120,000. But his quote wound up being at least $100,000 too low.
“We finally had to fire him when we were completely broke,” said Ms. Bissell, who was pregnant by then. The house was still about $45,000 away from being ready for a certificate of occupancy. To get it there, the couple cashed in retirement plans, broke out their credit cards and borrowed from family and friends.
While paying $100,000 more sounds outrageous, let's look at the factors that contributed to that "extra" hundred grand.
A quick browse through Rocio Romero's website shows that the architect clearly states a construction price of $120-$195 per square foot, not including infrastructure and sitework costs. A just as quick calculation puts the construction cost for a 1,450 square foot home kit at $175,000 on the low end and $282,750 on the high end. So those are the construction costs a client should expect to pay and a contractor that comes in so much lower should raise a huge red flag.
Prefabricated homes are less expensive than conventional custom houses, but they are not as cheap as people think. The kits need to be assembled, with traditional construction methods and labor. Building and paying for a prefab home requires the same process of getting reliable estimates from knowledgeable contractors and a little bit of research on the part of the homeowners.
Related on SmartPlanet:
A Prefab, Short on the Fab [The New York Times]
Image: Rocio Rocero copyright Richard Sprengler
Apr 19, 2012
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I was looking at alternative housing in a minimalist sort of way . although smaller houses are limiting for some for others they will fill the bill. using Basalt fiber cord in place of rebar to re-enforce concrete with out the re-bar corrosion issue can actually work out very well and even make a monolithic structure that resembles a typical house on the out side simple domes can be made using an inflatable bag as the form with a mould release agent to allow re-use concrete, wind the cord around , more concrete, as many layers as needed when concrete is cured, add a permanent , repairable waterproof coating , put in windows , and doors and interior treatment and you have a very sturdy home that could be air tight if needed While its not right for everybody , it is simple low DIY maintenance , solid , and long lasting
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I read out this blog and people have misconception that fabricates homes cost less than traditional homes, I think they can be costly too. http://www.bairstoweves.co.uk/forsaleoffice/cannock/257/
Shipping containers / Modular homes / Prefab homes will offer solutions to the worldâs housing shortage for the deprived, under-privileged and low income populations in society by providing a total system for basic, low-cost, quality built housing. The modular and prefabricated housing are constructed with sandwich panels and is the lowest in cost, most rapidly erected, simplest in design, and most structurally sound basic prefab housing in existence today. Plus, you can ship up to 15 prefab homes in a 40 foot container, depending on the size. I have been selling SIP's from www.ElitePrefabHomes.com because they are affordable to the poor. $31.75 is there starting price.
just before I looked at the receipt ov $7565, I did not believe that...my... sister woz actualy erning money parttime on there computar.. there dads buddy has done this for less than 1 year and at present cleard the debts on their cottage and bourt a great Jaguar E-type. we looked here, BAM21.COM
As a mechanical engineer I don't understand why anyone would want pre-fab over conventional unless there is a price advantage. Yes, there may be some quality enhancement with pre-fab but that difference is really trivial. So without a price advantage I say pre-fab has no reason to exist. If that is the case, this architect has failed as a designer. When a product is designed on computer and assembled in a factory it should assemble as easily as LEGOs on the job site. The contractor should have little to do beyond putting the parts in place and screwing them together. In the engineering world, Design For Manufacture has been an essential component of design since Ford started making cars. If a person wants to design a successful pre-fab, minimizing job site labor must be a high priority. Most of the labor in a pre-fab deign should be in the factory, there should be little labor needed at the job site. A properly designed pre-fab should go up in a few days, if it doesn't, it has lost whatever value it might have had over a conventionally built home.
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We recently had a customer that was looking into buying a home in the LA area. leaving things annoyamous, this customer had a 550k budget for a home in LA hills. He found a property (land) for roughly 90k in a not so great area. Then we came in and leveled it, started the foundation work and began building his prefab home he bought from living something... the prefab home roughly 1600sqft home cost 285k and plus 90k for land and 100k in our services, got him a brand new home in his budget. The reality that faces most potential homeowners here in la is that the cost of owning your property is very high. If he wanted to purchase a home he would most likely find a 1940s or 50s home for 485k and then he needed to spend another 75k to rebuild almost all the main parts of the home. That would still leave him with a older home and probably out of budget. Some situations it makes sense to go with a prefab home Harry Novelremodeling http://www.novelremodeling.com 855-456-6835
Unique in design. Different from other type of house designs. Level 'coz it's rectangular in shape. Very unusual! - http://www.appliedergonomics.com/
Get one built by the Amish from beautiful and sustainable wood, save a ton of money over the house in this story, and know what your cost is upfront for a prebuilt modular cabin delivered ready for same day use: http://www.amishcabincompany.com 5 models available, each with architectural drawings. 2 off-grid solar power options available. Built in a custom off-grid facility on a Kentucky Amish farm. Beautiful exposed post and beam construction with eastern white pine from floor to ceiling, including all doors, walls, and cabinetry.
"a contractor that comes in so much lower should raise a huge red flag." The problem wasn't the house, it was a dishonest contractor and a bargain.hunting owner. "You can't cheat an honest man"
So because on person has a bad experience all prefabs are bad? NYT is pretty much just a mouthpiece for corporate rapists. They can't say anything nice about anything that doesn't rape its user or environment.
Was on the cheap for me, although you need power and water property hook ups, also purchase the property, no space fees ever!, total=$45,200.00 that was in 2000.
MDI domes has a website completely explaining their domes. They are super insulated near disaster proof . AI domes are concrete KIT dome homes. One problem banks refuse to lend you money to build one citing resale difficulty. Funny I wonder how much inventory they are sitting on because their pony could not pay? Banker want to make a safe bet lend to the dome their projected lifespan is 500 years use 1/3 the energy and require less maintenance. If you had to foreclose on the home they are less likely to turn to crap due to not maintaining the home they need some maintenance but very little.
Prefab sounds great and they can be but as mentioned they still need to be assembled and the company doing the assembly should, ideally, have experience in such things. We bought a home that was minimalist prefab, it was constructed in two sections in a factory and bolted to a concrete basement on site. Not the same thing as a home in boxes but a lot more practical or at least higher expectations that the finished result will meet expected costs. The company making the sections was the one assembling on site so no big issues to have to deal with.
I'm 73 now and cut my teeth on building innovation and loaded with practical insight that has grown exponentially in materials, architecture, engineering, manufacturing and the other disciplines. I single handedly invented the 'double wide' mobile home after applying a folding principle to its predecessor at the age of 16 when I left home in New Mexico, met with Wright along the way and would have joined the Taliesin program except for his death shortly after that. I migrated through a wide variety of panel systems and materials, developing the 'thinshell' metal stud and thin concrete system becoming widely popular with no help from the trade's association that must eventually change. Tilt-up is dead but doesn't know it yet. There is now such a wide and confusing plethora of materials, methods and media I doubt a supercomputer could determine what's at the top of the list because criteria changes so drastically between environments. In short, nothing is all things to all men, but there are some very interesting and valid solutions available besides mine. I respect and admire the long days and and hard workl that knowledgeable, talented entrepreneurs have made to contribute so many good choices available to us. Along my long path can be found various body parts and remnants of precious bodily fluids since settling on the 'thinshell' methodology for the 'most things to most men' solution. It's like the erector set I so dearly loved. I discovered how concrete bonds to metal when some splashed on my new pickup I could not possibly remove without damage. Then I thought about all the concrete tools and equipment that are hard, if not impossible to clean such as readymix mixers that were not reclaimable until they developed chemicals that to clean them with. I've been through so many variations of methods of attaching light metal framing (metal studs) to thin concrete that have gone through my head over the years, many of them implemented. Some were bad, but like the Russians with some of our worst stolen technology, were still bad...like Ecolite. When I began, I rolled a deformity in one of the metal stud flanges that I embedded in 1.5" of conventional concrete. It's a method still being used in some places and now has names like TMCP and others. About 20 years ago I invented MetalCrete which used 4' metal strips screwed to stud and track, and that company I founded is still active today with that labor intensive, obsolete technology just chosen for a new 46-story Honolulu condo. I went on to stamp 'clips' in stud flanges, then later included the top & bottom track. But it was the generations that followed that finally made the most sense. Another 'inventor' I was helping used pop rivets to connect the metal framing and thin concrete when I realized I was finally onto the final, least common denominator for this method of construction for walls, floors and roofs. SteelCrete has become a one-step process using standard, off-the-shelf metal framing, where the concrete is held off the metal for a clean thermal break. The coated embeds are inexpensive and are quickly and efficiently electro-welded to the flange and serves to allow the stood-off concrete finish on the exterior, interior, corners and all other locations. In this technology, the full size erector set has arrived and is easily used by anyone proficient in construction, and has long far surpassed conventional tilt-up as a superior, efficient, fast, low cost, ductile, high strength, durable, fire-earthquake-flood & termite resistant method of construction for all types of buildings instead of just warehouses. The system can also be cast in place for those who are crane resistant. Tilt-up has come full circle and some of the nicest homes have been built with my systems. I continue to work with other facets of the AEC industry in R&D, new and improved architecture and its materials, methods and media. I invite any inquiry about SteelCrete or any of the other disciplines I've become aware of that may contribute to your ideas for a house, hi-rise, warehouse, big box building or any other type of building.
Any home that is not build today with a 15 ft. deep berm basement to capture the 7,000 degree F heat from the center of the earth is not worth building. It is free heat. Just add solar & your home can make you money by feeding the surplus solar onto the grid. Stop build cute dinosaurs.
This article had a number of interesting points that I wanted to draw on. I am in the Kit home industry in Australia. We are finding that the Mining industry is pushing up the old style modular/[url=http://free.kithomequotes.com.au]kit home[/url] housing as these mining companies are taking up all the work and seem to be charging more than project home builders in some instances. You just have to be smart how you go about sourcing the right company and being clear about your expectations.
The house in the picture is devastatingly beautiful, but it won't fit where I'm living now --Argentina-- for two main reasons: first, Insecurity, the idea of living in a house with glass skin all around would be unthinkable under present conditions (my nerves!), either you'll be woken up by the crash of shattered glass and the always expected entrance of thieves or you'll come home one day to find the same problem and the place vandalized and robbed. Second handicap: Resale value, the local people are accustomed to brick and mortar for the walls, concrete for the structure and roof and marble or ceramic tiles for floors, bathroom and kitchen. I was very interested myself in a prefab house due to its low price, but was wisely advised by many people, including architects to stay away from them because I could never sell it in the future, they would just pay me for the price of the land, the prefab house being just junk to be removed from the premise. Here they are bought only for recreational purposes or for storage. A third handicap here: The weather, in summer too hot, the sun would roast you behind that expanse of glass and in winter the heating bill could be astronomical. Being so cheap I suppose they are a practical way of having a house in first world countries, where heating and cooling by electricity are inexpensive, here it's a different story.
I guess they didn't bother to have the contract, if there was one, examined by their attorney and modified so that cost overruns werre disallowed and grossly missed deadlines or incomplete work penalized the contractor. People do not like paying lawyers. Lawyers charge too much. But when this much money is involved, it is best to pay a lawyer to make sure that any screws getting turned are pointed towards the other party.
This is no different than when a stick frame contracter screws over a homeowner that is building their first home and cost run up or contractor is not up to par. That Architect doesn't know how to design for modular 1500 sq at $120-$195 per square foot is insane!!!!!! 1 million dollar condo finishes and you should not be that high.. This architect is screwing people in one way for over designing these kits. The contractor is just worthless in this situation. Bring in utilities pour a foundation and put it together on site which you can sub out the button up. I would not put this on modular the fault is on everyone involved.
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We actually just launched our PreFab company: Jet PreFab, and the number one thing that we pride ourselves on is All-in, Upfront pricing..No Suprises at the end. This seems to be a real downside that keeps coming up in prefab homes. Besides that we are builders first. Many of these PreFab companies seem to be architects, that have beautiful ideas, but have never actually built a home. It is so important to have builders who can actually price and build your home, and know the true costs that go into it. -Ernest http://jetprefab.com
Having been in the prefabricated home kit business for some 20 years starting off with geodesic dome kits and subsequently developing small DIY cottage/bungalow/granny flat kits. During this period I evaluated virtually all there is on the market in this category. One thing that always struck me was the strict adherence to conventional structural practices by simply precutting all the standard components. This makes it quite difficult for even ambitious Owner Builders to assemble these "Kits". I went back to traditional methods using birdsmouths and trenching as well as some smallish preassembled components as an assembly aid. The result was a kit were no measuring, cutting or drilling was required and the concept of a "Meccano" set was incorporated. Every component is either screwed or bolted together resulting in superior strength for the completed structure which is also self supporting during construction. Admittedly, the buildings are fairly small ranging from 36sqm to 58sqm, but can be scaled up and are of a modular design to add more space at a later stage. You can see it yourself on this web page http://kwickset.net/bungalows.html Enjoy the view.
Like all things, when you embark on a project, you have to know what you are doing. Basic home construction runs at $70-80/sf, And then you go from there. The 2 main adders to this cost are kitchens and bathrooms. You can construct an outhouse for $400 or go for a interior room that will cost you $20,000+ (and on a typical house of 2000sf this will add $10/sf). The key in anything is a "statement of requirements" - you write down the "needs" and the "wishes" that can be costed separately (for example "I need to have low flush toilets since I will be on a well" versus "I would like to have heated floors in the bathrooms". Schedules are also in the control of the owner - a typical house can be constructed in 6 weeks (take a look at subdivision developments)... So its all in your court
Because we live in an earthquake, fire, snow up to the roof in winter California area, construction costs can be higher. A prefab home that would cost 100k in South Dakota could well cost us 200k here. This is why knowing materials being used is a must. Fireproof siding, roofs that wont burn but will shed snow in winter are required here. Add in summer temps of 100* and in winter 20* and even insulation can cost extra. In Hawaii its termites that are a problem, which means higher building costs, added on to the fact everything needs to come from the mainland. The upside is that as more and more people choose simple prefab designs that work, the price usually comes down. As long as you arent shipping the prefab kit in from across the country. Log homes come to mind. So look locally first to see what is available.
I find it amazing to think that someone would "Contract" with a home builder either pre-fab or custom built and not know the bottom line. It takes informed decisions regarding building materials, site locations, architectual design, interior finish and much much more prior to engaging in any home building project. Sounds to me like the couple refered to in this article weren't prepared for this undertaking. I have had a very well built pre-fab home I built almost 20 years ago, and it looks as good as it did from the beginning. Our project was most of all cost effective and we could not be more pleased with our decision. It's a shame homeowners and contractors can't communicate. Be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. Don't go into a "Contract" uninformed.
[i]A quick browse through Rocio Romero???s website shows that the architect clearly states a construction price of $120-$195 per square foot, not including infrastructure and sitework costs.[/i] That's considered high-end for [i]traditional[/i] construction where I live. I'm having difficulty feeling sorry because these people clearly did not adequately do their homework. They thought they were buying something "cheap" when what they were really buying was "trendy". Trendy is usually short-lived and expensive.
I built a "prefab" in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California many years ago, just after the Loma Prieta earthquake. I chose a 2-storey post-and-beam prefab kit house from Deck House which I could design (within the constraints of the manufacturer's system) and finish as I wished. The cost was probably not a great deal less than I could have paid for all of the components, and given Santa Cruz County's requirements that sheathing be re-nailed to their (post-Loma Prieta) specifications, the pre-assembly was only so useful. Although the manufacturer had competent registered engineers, the county also required that the design be re-engineered by someone with a California stamp, and the steel-reinforced pier-and-grade-beam foundation had to be set 12' feet into "competent bedrock", supervised by a CA-registered soils engineer. Septic had to be re-engineered. In short, the economics of the kit was a rather small matter. The primary advantage of a kit house is having a disciplined design system, and a range of options, and the ability to order all of these from one source and expect them to arrive in a coordinated fashion and on a predictable schedule. That includes details like windows, doors, prefab interior stairs, roofing, and siding. But just as important, the range of options, while significantly large, is limited, and appropriate to the style of architecture chosen. Did I save any money over building the same thing from locally assembled materials? The issue is moot, since I would never have built the same thing from locally assembled materials. The logistical problems would have been too great.
This doesn't sound like a prefab in the traditional sense as I know it. We looked into putting one on a lot but our zoning restrictions prevented this. The house we were looking at came totally assembled in 2 parts on flatbed trucks and were hoisted into position on a slab or foundation and joined together and finished in a day or 2. The house delivered and setup was about $125,000 plus having the slab or foundation put in plus any utility hookups. It would have been much less than having a house stick built.
Be aware that reinforced concrete pre-fab or on-site construction in FL has it's on pitfalls. The primary one being corrosion of the reinforcement splitting the concrete. Depending on how close to the surface the rebar comes - spalling can occur in less than 5 years. No only does this look horrible, but it also structurally weakens the building. The closer to the coast the more likely this is to occur. The solution is fiberglass rebar, but that will double the rebar cost over raw steel rebar - but if I were building on the coast, I wouldn't consider any other way. It isn't unusual here in FL to have balconies collapse off the older coastal condos and concrete bridges that are condemned from this problem. It's surprising that paranoid code writers have not put non-corroding rebar in all the coastal building codes. Since prefab concrete is specifically designed for coastal usage - it makes it inappropriate for coastal building.
but they usually are built better on a dollar for dollar basis. This is because they are built and inspected before they are disassembled and shipped, or put on a truck in sections and shipped. The issues of electricity and plumbing are always with us. Prefab houses are built to code, so that is a non-issue. And no, I do not work for a prefab home builder. I have done a lot of research, though, and if I am going to buy a house, I will buy a prefab and get a smaller, better built house for the money.
Housing has become a trap for the unwary almost in any direction you turn. You really have to understand the construction process and as well the codes affecting you, have infinite patience, know that you will be screwed by sub-contractors on more than one occasion in the process and have at least a year to dedicate to the building process. You also need to understand that the vast majority of building contractors are either scam artists or essentially incompetent and the best ones require constant supervision if you are going to complete a job as specified, on time and within budget. If you are going to build your own home - you better make sure that you are not only skilled in basic construction skills, know honest contractors, how to supervise them, but that you have also read and live with a copy of the hundreds of pages of local and state codes and understand how limiting the inspection schedules are to the building process. Here in FL you can count on new paranoid code changes to add significantly to the expected any anticipated building price. That being said, if you have some skills and act as your own gen. contractor you can cut the cost of a house half or more. We're building a 3kft2 CBS house that as it nears completion will have a cost of well under $100/ft. sq. Existing home prices here run from $200 and mostly up per sq. ft.
I've heard that pre-fabs are supposed to be a lot cheaper, and perhaps for inner city they are where some things are pre-set on a grid and limited in allowable scope. Perhaps it's the term or the wording, but pre-fab generally gives the image of 'slap it together right and you're done'. But when comparing the prices of new build and pre-fab, there seems to be little real savings, and a lot more work than the term seems to imply.
What about pre-fabricated, reinforced concrete homes? Would those cost more to erect than a standard CBS-constructed home? Those are becoming more common down in Florida because they are storm-resistant and impervious to termites. Does anybody know the answer?
Paul is right but the market for underground houses is very limited. And one little mistake in design or execution could flood the house and require an extremely expensive remedy.
Their mistake as they admit was not being more careful in getting a reliable contractor. Nothing mentioned about how they found the guy they chose, or if they sought bids, and even checked out the guys reputation with the state board that licenses contractor/builder folks. As for being trendy, I disagree. The Sears prefab homes would have been considered 'trendy' when they came out yet they still stand. Same with many modular homes throughout the country.
Now there's a leading word. The 'mobile home' became the 'manufactured home' and is used interchangeably with 'mobile' and 'modular' housing. I applied a folding house design by a Fullerton CA manufacturer decades ago at the age of 16 that I got manufactured by Great Lakes' Guerdon Wolfe Jr, then Mayflower Homes' Vic Johnson, but only got a job out of the latter. I left after a couple' weeks and invented the double-wide we all know and love. After many machinations in methods, systems and materials many decades later I ended up with 'thinshell' thin concrete and metal stud walls, floors and roofs that is changing the way 'tilt-up' is built some 35 years later, but is far more than the best adaptation of tilt-up technology and is popularly used today for housing, schools and many other types than any other single building method. Mobile home and modular dealers are too often scurrilous ex used car dealers with marketing ploys and hat tricks fit for a circus. Prices vary widely, and the knowledgeable buyer is the best buyer. I recently bought a new Champion double-wide mobile home with a 'tag' and about 2100 square feet for $49K, but of course had exorbitant permits, trucking, grading, foundation and garage to pay for that cost another $50K but wasn't a bad outcome on a great $100K lot in Wildomar CA. I'd used mobiles on a number of San Diego area lots when we lived there. In short, there are no good, reliable, predictable answers that aren't preceded by good questions. Really good questions.
Composite rebar's been available for some time now that cannot and will not rust, ever. Spend time on research instead of cursing the darkness....
Feature for feature, square foot to square foot, they usually do cost more and are more troublesome. Some are worth it, some are not; I never cease to be amazed at what some building 'systems' or 'packages' cost in place. Permits excluded because they vary so widely i.e. California where almost nobody can afford to build a home due to permit costs. And the state is a horrible place to live, to begin with. Ask me, we've been in AZ a couple of months and it brings back what life used to be like. There are a plethora of building systems, methods, materials etc etc and would pretty much take a 'supercomputer' and huge program to differentiate between them to come up with a 'best' solution for any given customer/client. It's a very confusing time in the AEC industry (Architecture-Engineering-Construction), but a very good choice can be my SteelCrete, the successor to my MetalCrete; thin concrete on standard metal framing...almost indestructible, inexpensive and other great stuff. We have a pretty good backlog of successful completed low to high end housing scattered all around the world.
Concrete poured inside foam blocks is a superb way to build homes in tornado or hurricane infested locations. Properly built they are hurricane proof if attention is paid to the usuaL weak points of roof and door and window openings. They are called ICF's,. There are many manufacturers. The above advice to avoid std rebar reinforcement is spot on, and not just in oceanside locations. Rebar destroys concrete, an ugly fact just now being addressed. Unreinforced concrete can last thousands of years. The Roman Pantheon is 2000 years old! New non steel reinforcement includes, fiberglass, graphite, aluminum bronze among others. Epoxy coated rebar(green) may prove to be reliable reinforcement over time, or not! The alkaline environment of concrete destroys steel over time usually in as few as 100-200 years!!.ICFs go up like legos. Concrete stained and polished makes a beautiful floor especially when poured over 12X8X16" concrete blocks laid on their sides with the holes lined up forming an air plenum under the slab . Google solar slab and ICF's for details. I have built 3 of these buildings and I doubt I will ever bother with a stick built building again. The costs are similar to stik built.
At that price level, they certainly were not buying cheap or even "efficient". If they wren't buying "trendy", then what were they paying that much for?
Our home is built of ICF, the same metod explained above. It is meant to withstand over 150 mph winds. We used no wood. All the floor joists are made of recycled stell and so are the studs. This will eliminate the fear of burning down, or eaten away by termites. Addditionally we added solar thermal under floor radiant heating system. We will be adding solar PV with solar energy storage module(we manufacture these units) to minimse the need for electricity. This will be additionally be a great way to survive in case of natural disasters. Due to the above said method of building, we already have realized the cost savings in utility and the quietness of our home. The floor is made of poured concrete on all levels and have granite tiles. Hence no dust or dirt accumulation leading to allergies etc. All those living in the tornado alley and the homes built in the forest where there are fires each year, and lastly those living in the flood zones must consider building such a home. Yes, the cost is similar to stick built home and if steel is used, it is so simple to build as the steel is already cut to size, maked individually and sent from factory (after the exact drwaings are sent to them). We used http://www.clarkdietrich.com/products. They are great guys to work with.
It amazes me that we require--after decades--'hurricane resistant' buildings in some zones, most of which codes are barely sufficient to keep the building mostly intact and largely in place. Even though we know how to create buildings which will withstand F5 tornadoes, we seem to have no areas subject to tornadoes which require any sort of actual tornado 'resistant' or 'proof.' Concrete, both above and below ground, formed as poured walls or sprayed thin-shell isn't exactly prefab, but it is about as disaster-proof as any technology we've got. Yet we continue to hose people in balloon-framed stick houses, either prefab, mobile or custom in areas guaranteed to be hit by major windstorms every 3-10 years. How many billions did Sandy cost? How much was avoidable by proper building codes and zoning which prevented construction on coastal sand? There has got to be a better way to run a economy than to depend upon destroying and rebuilding huge areas of our civilization on a regular basis. We rebuilt New Orleans. Huge mistake which will, within a decade or two at most, prove to cost us at least 3 times what Katrina cost as it will not be possible to protect coastal land located below sea level as the weather patterns change--at least, not inexpensively. Billions are homeless, yet Americans needlessly permit hundreds of thousands of homes to be destroyed annually by avoidable disasters so that they may be rebuilt, keeping an inefficient and impractical construction industry humming with what is essentially 'make work.' Our economy does not and has not required anything close to 'full employment' for nearly a century. Automation and machines have made us so productive that we could, should we chose, require only 5-10% of the population to 'work' to keep our civilization humming. 'Resource scarcity' has been almost entirely artificial for decades. 'Work to eat to live,' is and has been obsolete as a social 'self worth' measure for generations, and it is a pattern we need to drop if we are to survive as a society. By 2025-30 our entire economic, political and social structure will change to something few will recognize as we finally discard our scarcity based social structure and embrace the true abundance of the universe around us. We have limitless energy within reach, and energy is the sole limiting factor of life. All of the burnable fuel on Earth is nothing compared with what we have within our reach. All of the other resources of the Earth are nothing compared with those within our reach in the Solar System. The 'wealth' held by our most wealthy is insignificant, their hoarding of material goods and resources are as nothing to what is actually available. The single most valuable and unique resource of the Earth is the ecosystem, which we are distorting and damaging though we know not how to reconstruct it. Back to pre-fabs. Pre-fabs vary as much in utility as any other item, some are very, very economical and easy to install, some are the opposite, even requiring more effort and cost than a stick-built building. As with anything, it pays to research before you buy, and it is seldom a good idea to take the lowest bidder when it seems too good to be true. Hate to say it, but some salesmen lie...
We built our home with ICF. We did use rebar as specified by the manufacturer ( I will not live 100 or 200 years). This home is quiet, extremely energy efficient as we have used solar thermal and radiant floor heating system and have large windows facing East and West for plenty of sun light to minimize the use of electricity. It has no carpet and uses natural stone on the floor (mostly granite) for thermal mass to retain heat for 3 days. The floor joists and the wall studs are made of heavy gauge steel. This makes this home hurricane, termite ad fire proof. Our basement to the top floor has even heat. We will soon be adding additional solar thermal collectors and a newly developed solar PV storage unit. We are trying to make this home 100% off grid by this summer. Yes-- we did try to teach people as to how to build a proper home that will last for "100 - 200 years". No one is interested!
My son-in-law built a house like that in the Adirondacks. It's very sturdy, and very well insulated.