The tiny house movement has sparked the creativity of home dwellers and designers alike, as more people gravitate away from grandiosity and stuff to simplicity and experiences. Along with the fervor for tiny house living, those who like to be on the move are embracing the van life. In addition, this growing interest in living differently, more simply, and more harmoniously with the Earth has sparked innovation in pre-fabricated home design.
A pre-fabricated, or prefab, home is a dwelling that is partially or even fully made off-site rather than on a building site. While the prefab homes featured in this post are homes of our era, ordering a pre-built home is by no means a modern concept. Yep, people were ordering homes even before the internet was a thing.
In the early 1900s, Sears, Roebuck and Co. had a mail order homes program. From their catalog, you could choose from over 400 designs and get the materials shipped to you. More creative folks could design their own homes and submit the blueprints to Sears, who would then ship the pre-cut and fitted materials to the homeowner.
Many of the beautiful Victorians that San Francisco is known for were ordered from a Sears catalog, as are homes other parts of the country, such as North Carolina.
Sears Magnolia Kit House in Benson, North Carolina
While this house is hardly what you’d envision when you the think of a modern day prefab home, it was indeed made from a kit.
Modern Eco-Friendly Prefab Homes
Times have changed, as people today are on the move, seeking experiences, and looking to downsize. Today, the idea of a prefab home might conjure images of metal shipping containers and sparse furnishings. While that’s definitely an option, it’s by no means the only one. This collection of prefab homes made with eco-friendly materials will definitely have you thinking outside the box.
1. Green Roof Container Home
This container home blends in beautifully with its natural surroundings in part because of its green roof.
2. ÖÖD House Glass Container Homes
When brothers Andreas and Jaak Tiik were planning a weekend hiking trip in Estonia, they tried to find a cozy cabin in a beautiful setting where they could spend the night. Dissatisfied with the selection of log cabins, they decided to design their own structure. The result was a collection of what they call ÖÖD houses. These mainly glass structures let you take in your natural surroundings while being cozy inside a dwelling.
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Hotels like the Panorama Glass Lodge in Iceland feature their designs:
3. Bamboo Living Sustainable Homes
One of my personal favorites, Bamboo Living makes prefab homes with sustainable bamboo. You might be thinking what I did when I first learned about these homes – Will they fall down? Bamboo is actually a very strong and durable material, and these homes have withstood tropical hurricanes and cyclones. You can also get them designed with insulation and double wall construction for colder climates. I can imagine living in one of these homes would make you feel like you’re on a permanent tropical paradise vacation.
4. Honomobo Container Homes
For a more minimalist and contemporary vibe, there are these container homes by Honomobo. Shipping containers provide a sound structural basis for homes because they’re built with steel and designed to withstand abuse. They’re stacked on top of each other and have to carry a range of heavy contents without collapsing. Furthermore, the steel resists corrosion and rust, and the containers can withstand temperatures that range from hot to freezing, as well as changing climate conditions like dry heat, rain, and snow.
5. Greenfab Energy Efficient Homes
Greenfab is a sustainable home design company that make prefab, modular homes that are energy efficient and healthy to live in. Their homes minimize exposure to environmental toxins by utilizing paints, finishes, and adhesives that are free of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. In addition, the homes are designed for maximum air circulation, which creates a healthier environment for inhabitants.
Energy efficiency features include Energy Star appliances and monitoring systems that measure energy and water usage. In addition, the homes are designed for solar panels for additional energy savings.
6. Lumipod Prefab Circular Cabin
Designed by the French company Lumicene, the Lumipod cabin is a modest 183 square feet. In addition to the bedroom, there’s a bathroom. That’s about it. Yet, its outsized circular window opens to nature, putting you in touch with the great outdoors while you’re tucked cozily inside.
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7. Ecological Floating Homes
If living near the water is your thing, well – how about living on the water? EcoFloLife designs eco-friendly floating homes.
Creating what they call “floating habitats,” EcoFloLife’s philosophy is to let the inhabitants of their homes to “live in harmony with nature, while respecting and admiring it.”
With climate sea levels rising from climate change, living in a home that rises and falls with the tides may not be a bad idea.