Living Homes Retools For Lower Prices, Wider Distribution

Living Homes have been TreeHugger regulars, with their LEED Platinum ratings and great modern Ray Kappe designs. But a big complaint was that they were really expensive. They were also designs that were very much part of their environment, very California.

Now they have gone back to first principles, and come up with a simpler, boxier wood framed design that has some very interesting features, and comes in at a different price point.

Switching to wood construction has some big advantages in the prefab business. Modular home factories across the country have experience with it (and most have no work right now and are willing to talk, which they were not five years ago) and the state-by-state plan approval system is geared for wood construction. The engineering is straightforward. They understand it.

It is also easier to detail wood construction for colder climates than it is for steel, since wood is not as good a conductor.

It is also instructive to compare the plans of the first RK1 Living Homes design by Ray Kappe and the latest, the RK6. The steel structure permitted larger rooms and open spaces, but at a cost in transport and assembly. Look at the RK6 by comparison; it is two boxes per floor, about 14'-6" wide each, not too many jogs or too much complexity; this can go anywhere and be installed in a day.

Commenters are still going to whine that at $ 220 per square foot it is way more expensive than conventional housing, but once again, I will point out that sustainably grown wood costs 30% more than your clear-cut variety, formaldehyde free material costs a lot more than the usual stuff, high performance windows can cost five times as much as standard vinyl, it just costs more to use good stuff and detail it properly, and achieving these kinds of sustainability ratings does not come cheap.

Architect-designed modern prefab is a niche business at best, and the original Living Homes designs addressed a tiny niche within a niche. These new designs could take it mainstream.

See the neat configurator at Living Homes


More Living Homes in TreeHugger:


LivingHomes Awarded LEED for Homes Platinum
Living Homes: Modern Green Prefab
Wired Home by Livinghomes
The TH Interview: Steve Glenn, Founder and CEO of LivingHomes

Tags: Architecture | Designers