Monday, January 17, 2011

Home builders see green prefab potential

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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