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The New Modular Home: Chic, Eco-friendly and Fabulous

By: John West

The modern prefab and modular homes are experiencing a resurgence for many reasons. These days it seems architects and designers are eager to create new environmental-chic versions of the modular home, and these new designs offer so much versatility and and appeal that their popularity is naturally on the rise. With the employment of new methods of construction and transportation, designers are cutting waste and energy consumption, slashing production costs while achieving greater overall methods of sustainability.

Before diving into the interesting benefits if investing in these new homes, let's take a look at the definitions of prefab/prefabrication and modular, and then take a closer look at the new and modern prefab modular homes.

Prefabrication is the practice of assembling parts in a factory, then transporting the complete or partial module to the construction site. Modular homes are homes in which there are design elements that are separate modules of the whole that can be used interchangeably to create different designs. Modular design, benefits the buyer because the interchangeable components can be moved around to better accommodate different spaces, styles, and needs. Think Rubik's cube- the premise of the modular aspect of a home is similar. As long as the exterior dimensions remain the same, the rooms and walls within a design can be shuffled around.

So, what are the benefits of these new homes that combine elements of both prefabrication and modularity? First off, as already mentioned, the modular aspect of these homes, makes it possible to design a home that'll complement the space you are placing it on. You can play around with a variety of different designs and create the perfect fit.

Since the modules are constructed in a factory, a high quality of construction is ensured. The fasteners are accurately applied, materials are cut with more exactness, and since they have to be transported, everything is tighter and more secure. This extends the life span and cuts on upkeep. Modular prefabrication factories also produce less waste as compared to standard home construction. The production of modular homes generates somewhere around 2% of waste, as compared with the 30-40% of wasted material generated from a standard home construction. Additionally, since the duration of pre-fab modular construction is shorter, and so the cost of production is lower.

Many companies use a very responsible cradle to cradle method of transportation. With this method, the components of the home are intended to be flat and standard and so the design can be sent to a computer and cut in masses at regional locations, packed flat and then shipped to local distribution areas.

Companies like Michelle Kaufman Designs are very conscious of the building materials they use. Sustainable touches with her designs include bamboo floors, energy efficient windows and doors and thick insulation. Her designs promote natural cooling, through the use of long shallow spaces and cross-ventilation. The need for artificial lighting is reduced with the gliding glass wall design and the placement of clerestory windows. Some homes include water conserving toilets, faucets and bathroom counter tops made of Richlite, a recycled-paper product. Outside, exterior walls are made of maintenance-free Cor-Ten steel, Galvalume (anodized alloy-coated steel), Hardi panels (cement board) or sustainable harvested Western red cedar planks.

Through afford ability and convenience, the development of the new modular pre-fab homes has brought eco-chic construction to a wider audience so that we many continue to live well, but tread lightly.

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