Pre-fab Fad Falls Down, Again.

zero-house-01I just can’t feel bad about it.  Post modern luxury and hippie just shouldn’t go together, and that is what so many  of the most recently reencarnated pre-fab housing gurus have been trying to do.  It has been doomed to failure since the start.  Now the economic “downturn” is finishing the job, and I am hopeful that it may be one more good result that comes from it.

I think Buildblog puts it best in their recent post, “Pre-fab houses don’t work.”  They go on to list 10 reasons why pre-fabbers have gotten it wrong at a time when I believe that most things were in their advantage to get it right.  Like so many other huge changes that are taking place across the U.S. in the way that we think and live, this time of economic malaise could have been an opportunity for radical visionaries to rebuild American housing.  Instead we came up with a stupider and more convoluted way to build the same old, stupid and convoluted environs.  God bless America.

Pre-fab was born to be cheap and easy.  It was meant for rednecks and common schlebs.  Along comes the “green” revolution, and the discovery is made that pre-fab is a kissing cousin to efficiency as well.  Hallaluia.  Twixt the two together, and it’s a match made in heaven.  This newest reboot of pre-fab should have become a doubly (production and energy costs) cheap-ass home for cost-conscious redneck and granola alike.

Instead the Frankenstein fabbers, ablaze with style and form, created factory pre-fabbed studios and villas.  With fancy, green materials and high-tech jobbers, glamourous pre-fabs were built in pods, cores, units and cells.  Some can be put up and taken down in a few days (before you spend the next few months “finishing” them).  I simply can’t understand the point behind a $300 a sq. ft. pre-fabbed house, and I’ve tried, honest. (Other than possible eliminating those nasty construction jobs that only immigrants want, at a time when it is most convenient to blame all the stinking immigrants for our woes.  Oh damn, I said it!)

I realize that we have grown fond of comfortable predictability in things like Star Bucks coffee and McDonald’s hamburgers.  But, ultimately, people want originality and individuality in a home.  Pre-fab and original, while not mutually exclusive, will never be playmates.  They have gotten over their differences in the past with the help of one thing, cheap-ass Americans that want to live on their own land and call their own shots.  Pre-fab futurists should look to these people to find their way.  What do penny pinching individualists want in tomorrow’s home?  What are they willing to give up to keep the life they want to live?

Make it efficient.  Make it smart.  Make it fly the finger in the face of the establishment.  But for God’s sake, most importantly, make it cheap.

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