Thanks to MIT, a new concept in prefab home construction has appeared in the housing market. Instead of being factory built in the traditional way with limited wall and ceiling heights, then shipped to home sites on wide-load trucks, an expensive proposition requiring escort cars, the MIT prefab design is based on hinged steel frames that can be folded. This allows for larger room sizes and soaring cathedral ceilings.  Because a house can now be folded into a smaller shipping size it can then travel at far less cost on 18-wheelers. When the modules reach the site, they are then unfolded, hoisted up by cranes and joined together.

A pioneering California company, Blu Homes, constructs these high quality homes with environmentally friendly materials that include low or no VOC paints plus zero formaldehyde and non-gassing elements.  Solid insulation and solar panels dramatically lower energy costs — to the tune of 70%. 

Short construction time is another advantage. Instead of taking months and months of building time with cost overruns that can seem never ending, a prefab home, constructed with no waste, can be completed in a few weeks. This spares home builders from going through a prolonged process that Psychology Today claims can be more painful than having a loved one die.

On Blu Homes web site, prospective buyers can pick and choose from various plans and styles and materials to put together their individual dream home. Prices range from $130,000 for the Origin studio model (not including land, foundation and site prep costs) to $590,000 for the elegant Sidebreeze 3 or 4 bedroom home.

Most comments on a Fortune article about Blu Homes grumbled about these steep prices, especially when the high cost of California land was factored in. But it’s still early in this particular game. Who knows when and if additional players and competition will jump into this new house folding, prefab arena?


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