By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Sandra Beer watched her neighbors in East Chatham, N.Y., devote copious time and sweat equity in building all or part of their homes.
"As a single working mom, I realized I couldn't go that route," says Beer, 51, a fundraiser for a PBS-TV station in Albany. So she explored factory-built options that would be energy efficient.
"I kept looking for something that was middle-class green," she recalls. She signed a contract for a two-bedroom, one-bath $160,000 prefab from Blu Homes, a Massahusetts-based company, in April that was completed in September. The price included delivery but not land.
"It was a lot easier than what others around me experienced," she says, noting the on-budget, quick delivery.
Like Beer, more U.S. consumers and developers are turning to factory-built housing for speed, quality and energy efficiency. The prefab market, once derided as the lowly world of double-wides trailers, is positioning itself for major growth when the housing industry rebounds.
New Hampshire-based Bensonwood Homes builds high-end homes in sections, whether walls or entire bathooms, off-site in its factory and assembles them onsite with with a crane and a small crew. "We're light years away from where we were five years ago," says TeddBenson of New Hampshire-based Bensonwood Homes. His company is refining computer software that can do a 3-D home model, then cut, shape and detail each part in the factory. Read More
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