Connect Homes wants to change the world of prefab. Since the it's run by architects with pedigrees that include time spent at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, the company's in a good position to make an impact too. But it needs your help.
The model is beautifully simple. Connect Homes offers several tiers of what can be best described as starter kits. They include a range of different prefab home options ranging in size from a pared-down, single story, 60sqm home with one bedroom to an airy, 238sqm with four bedrooms on two floors. Once you pick the model, you get to trick it out with the features of your choice. Want natural wood paneling on the outside? No problem? How about a deck? Just tick the box. You can do most of the designing on the website and immediately see what your new home would look like. Connect Homes will also do custom prefab jobs for you.
Customisability isn't even the most compelling feature about Connect Homes. They're also insanely environmentally friendly. There are at least 46 different features that make the homes especially green, including everything from renewable and sustainable building materials to energy efficient appliances like an optional hot water recycling pump. The approach all falls under the company's mission "to deliver modern homes that are affordable, green and available wherever you are."
A Connect 5.2 in Sonoma, California.
These handsome homes are affordable too. The smallest model, the Connect 2, costs a little over $US200,000, including site preparation, installation, and taxes. Connect Homes is serious about making it easy for home buyers, no matter where they live. When it's time for installation, you can literally go to work with an empty lot and come home to find the entire prefab house on site. You just need to connect the utilities.
Soon enough, buying a ready-to-live-in house from Connect Homes will be even easier. The company plans to offer customised design and furniture packages so you don't even have to bother with decorating. I went ahead and designed a few different options using Connect Homes' website, and I have to admit, it was pretty fun. If only getting a mortgage were so simple.
Prefab architecture is not without its history of incredible promise and seemingly inevitable let-down -- but there's a reason it keeps cycling back into the public eye. The designs are exciting, the convenience incredible, and the sheer fun of assembling your own versions hard to beat.
It's unclear why Connect Homes envisions this cute little one-bedroom in the middle of the desert. Personally, I'd put it in the middle of the woods and wrap it in redwood siding so that it blends right into the flora. But, for the desert, I designed a light grey little number with a matching interior. (Seems like it would keep the heat off.)
As pictured, this Connect 2.1 would cost about $US200,000.
This is the classy, well-designed environmentally friendly version of a double-wide. Put two Connect 2 units together, and you get one big Connect 5.
As displayed, the 150sqm house includes three bedrooms and two baths. It looks extra-modern with dark wood panelling on the outside and a simple black-and-white interior. It's also a steal at about $US325,000.
This is the cheapest two-storey house that Connect Homes offers. It's just like the Connect 5 series but includes a large master suite and single bedroom on the ground floor with two additional bedrooms upstairs -- and lots of windows. This thing is basically a light factory.
As such, I designed a bright white interior and badass black exterior. The final cost would be about $US450,000.
This is the top of the line option from Connect Homes. With four bedrooms and 2.5 baths, you'd never guess that a house this size could actually be factory-built. It does cost roughly half a million dollars though, so you'll probably feel like you're buying a big house. I went ahead and outfitted this version with a white-on-white theme to keep it clean and modern.
And don't forget: if you get bored with your set up, you can always just load it up on a truck and go somewhere else.