muddywaters asked a question seeking cheap, possibly DIY, home building. There are lots of great answers to that post; some of the most interesting mentioning prefab and shipping container structures.

I recently had reason to read Phoenix, AZ's main newspaper, which had an article entitled “Rehabbing PreFab”, discussing a local project at Taliesin West architecture school. Students are exploring the PreFabricated homes, with Modern architecture styling. Definitely a new take on PreFab. Exciting work, particularly the shipping container mod-mods.

Doing a quick search turns up the website busyboo which has many articles regarding contemporary exploration of highly artistic PreFab units. The price of these designs is quite different from traditional prefab homes, partly a reflection of the limited market and partly the cache styling.

What do y'all think?  Borrowing design ideas from these MODpreFAB companies, perhaps a DIY opportunity!

$$$ Only fools buy retail
$$ wholesale
$ Those who can, DIY!

The Arizona Republic article mentions the following companies experimenting with MODpreFAB:
(Reproduced from print edition)

Picture of MODpreFAB
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BeckyM7128 days ago

I love the container home idea, these incredible containers can faces wind, rain, salt, typhoons, extreme weight, dropping and bumping for years, and can still be a sustainable home. I have a few for sale in Texas that are guaranteed to have NO holes, NO leaks, NO penetrating rust, the doors & locks are all in good working order, and the floors are solid. These containers have not transported any chemicals so are safe for human habitation. If you would like to know more about them call me at 281-259-8550 or email me at

Happy Homesteading!

Becky Marie~

Kiteman7 years ago
Woah, there's a lot of work in that topic!

I can definitely see the attraction of pre-fabs in the short term (foundations? who digs foundations?), but in the UK they still have connotations of post-war housing shortages.

(That last one looks like a gas station...)

CrLz (author)  Kiteman7 years ago
In the print edition of "Rehabbing PreFab", one of the designers of Mod.Fab (first pic) agreed with you, essentially saying PreFab has a negative image.

Typically in America this impacts the resale value(investment potential) and potentially where you can site the PreFab home. It looks like there may be some wistful thinking that these will be more affordable homes. Price point in America seems to be ~$250,000 for a typical home. I wonder if this movement is related to the $2000 car available in India (vs $20,000+ car in USA).

Could be another option, another trend in home-valuation. Rather than investment valuing (how much more home is worth at time of sale), maybe new valuation will (enjoyment of use) / (cost)- sort of like owning a boat.
Goodhart CrLz7 years ago
The "average" home in my area is a little bit lower then that (in Pennsylvania), but then the average income reflects that also. I suspect it would be difficult, if not impossible to get one of these financed though.
CrLz (author)  Goodhart7 years ago
I'd bet the container homes are tough to finance.

My college roommate works as a mortgage broker, he mentioned prefab homes can be financed, however. In fact, he mentioned it is interesting that the calculated investment potential is know to be less, but banks like prefab because the building quality is better in most instances.
Goodhart CrLz7 years ago
Better then mobiles? Most definitely.
CrLz (author)  Goodhart7 years ago
Apparently better that on-site homes, in fact.

In order to be lifted by crane, modular homes use 2" by 6" beams, rather than the standard 2" by 4" stud. Because the units need to be trucked on to site, they are built to withstand ~60 mph winds.

My friend mentioned it is an interesting paradox that they are still valued lower. But, perception makes a huge difference in commodity markets.
Goodhart CrLz7 years ago
Yeah, maybe because of how they build houses today.

The "apt" I live in, was built in the early 1900's and it is still quite sound. But they don't build them like that anymore....I remember when Agnus when through here....
CrLz (author)  Goodhart7 years ago
Ah, hurricane Agnes... That one shut down the mine my father's family worked in! Bad, bad flooding. Looks like the winds topped at 85mph, so prefab would have been hard pressed to resist those gusts.

Bet you saw some serious damage when that storm rolled through.
Goodhart CrLz7 years ago
Yes, but incredibly, since I was still living at home, the only damage WE got was a bit of flooding in the basement, and then only because the sump pump ran ALL night long and burnt up (it was old). 

I remember it so well because my Dad had built a small room in the basement for one us kids (my  brother tried it first and didn't like it because of no windows and it being so dark), so I got my own room.  That morning, I stepped out the room (slightly raised flooring) and onto what should have been cold concrete, only to have my entire foot immersed in cold water.  WAKE UP CALL  !   LOL

I think we lost some spouting, but our position on the top of a rather large "mound"  (the neighbors on all sides but one, were lower then us) afforded us a significant drainage advantage.  The one neighbor, who built their home in the bottom of a small basin, were not so lucky of course, and they had gotten a rather filthy "indoor swimming pool" now, in their basement (flooded basement, not a real pool). It wasn't pretty (their cesspool backed up into the basement, literally).