Putting the Fab in Prefab: Pre-Fabricated Homes for Modern Living

Sarah C
Written by Sarah C

As modern architecture continues to evolve, one trend seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days: prefab houses. But haven’t prefab (pre-fabricated) homes been around for quite some time?

Pre-built, pre-cut or pre-assembled housing has been around for well over a century. But with new iterations of prefabs in terms of style, construction and application, these solution-based houses continue to meet the demands of the modern dweller today.

The IT HOUSE, by Taalman Architecture. Image via

Getting back to their solution-based quality, the idea behind prefabs is to construct energy-efficient, modular homes with minimized construction time and obstruction to the environment. If this philosophy sounds familiar, that is because the prefab “movement” was—and is—intrinsically tied to the modernist movements that reached popularity in the 20th century.

(A prime example of prefab housing was the Case Study Program in California between 1945-1962, which promulgated the construction of modern homes that were practical and affordable, and adhered to the new modern way of living.)

Besides being extremely modern in look and function (if that’s your style), there are many tangible benefits to choose the prefab lifestyle. From the relationship to the environment to the cost efficiency benefits, prefab housing is a construction method sure to stick around for a while.

Environmentally Inclined

Vipp Shelter; Lake Immeln, Sweden. Images via

Reminiscent of structures built by Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe (see the Farnsworth house here), modern prefab homes are descendants of modernism and its obsession with enhancing the relationship between the indoors and the outdoors. The simplicity of these structures (predominantly made from steel and glass) assures that shelter is provided to live without obstructing the views of nature.

In addition to the physical views of nature, the actual production and construction of prefabs holds other benefits for the environment. Using recyclable materials to build the components of prefabs off-site, the minimized construction time reduces the impact on the Earth.

Modularity = Customizable

Design by Chris Pardo Design: Elemental Architecture, built by Method Homes; Sonoma, California. Photos by Jaime Kowal Photography. Images via

While many prefabs are sold in pre-designed “kits,” the simple modularity of prefabs actually affords endless possibilities and configurations. In addition to the variety of pre-fabricated layouts and floor plans, the remarkable thing about them is they can be used for different applications other than primary residences.

Project by LABhaus, San Francisco. Photo by Tony Luong. Image via

For example, this prefabricated addition is a pool house that sits away from the primary residence.

Cost Effectiveness

Hardly just for aesthetic purposes, the simplicity of modern prefabs is a design choice that significantly reduces the cost of building. Given that the components are manufactured off site ahead of time and are made from readily available materials like steel and glass, by the time the home is shipped to the building site, much of the heavy-lifting has been completed.

Project by Stillwater Dwellings; Edmonds, Washington. Image via

Depending on the company, prefab houses are designed to be assembled with minimal labor and time. Assembly of the components can range from a few days to a few weeks, which is way ahead of any new construction done on site from the ground up. Given the great significant strides in design and innovation of these prefabs, the cost effectiveness is a major driving factor in the popularity of these homes.

Ever considered living in a modern prefab? Share your experiences below!

About the author

Sarah C

Sarah C

Ever since receiving her first home décor magazine at a young age, Sarah has been drawn to the design world, leading her to work creatively as the Print Marketing Manager at YDesign Group. When she is not gushing over interior design on the interwebs, she is usually writing about it. In her off time you can find her hiking, enjoying a nice long brunch, and exploring the awesomeness of Northern California. IG: @sarahwinningham

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