Ten things for pre-fabricated housing, please

We spent some time on the mountain last weekend.  God, it’s beautiful.

Good thing, too, because it’s been a long strange trip.

We had originally planned to buy land, put a cabin/cottage on it and use it as a vacation home until retirement (10 years away), and going off the grid after that.

Best laid plans go awry almost immediately.  I found lots of parcels for sale on the internet.  We visited most of them and saw a lot of Kentucky in the process.  There were some nice pieces that tempted us, but this property spoke, at least to me.  Seven miles to town.  Out in the middle of nowhere.  Cliffs.  Water.  Space.

The listing said city water and I never even thought to check that.  After we purchased, we found out there is no city water/sewer service and no electric hookup either.

So we adjusted our attitudes and figured that propane would work when we got to the point of actually putting any kind of structure on the property.  We found a site we like a lot.  It’s about 1200 feet elevation, so it has a nice breeze.  It also has a view of the dam made “lake” that sits on the National Forest land that abuts ours.  So we built a gravel road to the site and installed a septic system.  Drilled a well, too, but it went dry.

So then we had a water survey done (worth every penny) and found a likely drill spot and hit water.  It caved in.  Now we have to re-drill, then test the water quality, then put a pump in, etc.

While the infrastructure is going in, I’ve been researching houses.  Despite public perception, what I’ve learned is that pre fabricated and modular housing is a very economical, efficient (both energy and with less waste) way to go than traditional stick built houses.  Plus they go together a lot faster on the site.

There are some really cute, really clever designs out there.  If you want a place that is less than 1000 square feet, there are plenty of designs and plans to choose from, ranging in price from around $30,000 on up.

But see, there are two of us.  We are going to be together 24/7 for years.  So, designers and architects everywhere, listen up!  I got somethin to say!

Rule one:  The master bathroom (and there has to be one of those) has got to have two sinks.  This is non-negotiable.  The toilet itself should be off in its own little room, for hygiene purposes.  A large step in shower with space for two would be really great.  The large, hard to clean and hard to get in and out of bathtubs are so over.  Boomers are getting old, folks.

Rule two:  There has to be more than one toilet in the house.  A bath and a half is the minimum.  Otherwise, there will be blood.

Rule three:  Laundry areas are workspaces.  We need a counter.  We need a sink.  We need a place to hang up clothes.  We need some storage space.  Calling a closet a laundry room is a joke.

Rule four:  Windows in the kitchen are musts.  I’m seeing some kitchens in the interior core.  This idea must not spread.

Rule five:  Fireplaces anyone?  I’ve seen very damn few pre-fab or modular designs with even one fireplace.  This is not acceptable to anyone living outside of California, people.

Rule six:  Get over the flat roofs already! I want a pitch because I’m going to put solar panels up there, and I want to collect rainwater as well.  If you are going to bill yourself as “green” or “eco-friendly”, this is a non-negotiable item.  The roof color, by the way, also matters.  White roofs are cool roofs.

Rule seven:  Does anyone read anymore?  I’ve got a lot of books.  So does my husband.  With no walls, where is one supposed to put bookshelves?  I love the open plan too, but we still need some walls in our house.

Rule eight:  You know those solar panels I want?  Well, I’m gonna need a space to put the inverter/batteries/etc and you are not including this in your plans.  It would be great if you accounted for this necessity, because we’ll end up putting something up that isn’t designed in and it’ll look like it wasn’t.

Rule nine:  People who are together 24/7 for years need to get away from one another at times.  So those adorable spaces you’re working on are not practical.  If we live in a 740 square foot space for the rest of our natural lives, our natural lives could be much shorter than the actuaries would say.  We’re looking for 1200 to 1600 square feet, used very wisely, and the pickings get slim at that point.

Rule ten:  Options are non-existent.  The structures I’ve seen give me one choice of appliances, when they are included at all.  What if I don’t want an electric or gas stove?  What if I don’t want bamboo flooring?  Why is there no menu of options, with the costs for each?  If the selling point of going pre-fabricated is the ease of configuration, then that ought to carry through the entire process, don’t you think?

I expect great things!



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2 Responses to Ten things for pre-fabricated housing, please

  1. chris says:

    Hear hear, I’m going through the same check list. We wouldn’t survive a lot and building even pre fab, but I do agree with your list. I would also add…. one level, those stairs get harder everyday. And in Michigan, may I too have a screened in porch to hide in?

Thanks for reading!

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