Housing Crisis: Green Cabins, Garden Sheds, Beach Hangs or Hobbit Houses?


$10K going once...fab reclaimed prefab auctioned on eBay. Photos by RCruger

The Reclaimed Space unit decorated by EcoFabulous on display at this weekend’s Dwell On Design conference was auctioned off on eBay and raised $75,100 for Habitat for Humanity. Lucky bidder. The 400-square-foot "rustic modern" structure featured 100-year-old reclaimed oak and pine, a full bathroom, a queen-sized Murphy bed, outdoor shower, porch, 85% recycled insulation, and retractable roof overhangs.

The outdoor area at the Dwell exhibition floor was a big hit. There were several outdoor structures and options from prefab structures to a shiny Airstream, as well as sustainable landscapers, outdoor furnishings, solar powered porch arbors, and eco-planters. IC Green’s converted cargo containers with sliding glass doors, billed as Eco-Cabanas and painted bright green instead of a SeaLand logo had a pricetag of $10K - what, no wet bar?

Imagine my surprise when I realized that the Modern Shed on display is created by John Akers, the same shed maker I wrote about in the Seattle Times several years back, when he built charming yard cottages and worked with found materials from fencing and house demos. His kits today range in size from an 8x10 model for about $7K to a small dwelling for $40,000. Eco-options include cork flooring, Trex decking and a green roof. Need a guestroom or home office space?

A fully furnished Shawu Tent by Exclusive Tents, presented a fancy canvas accommodation from Australia to Alaska and beyond, evoking a cross between some safari adventure and romantic retreat. An interesting architectural alternative for certain climates, they can handle high rainfall tropics and dry desert environments, and offer a variety of designs as well as eco-friendly lodges and treehouses.

Like some Charles and Ray Eames vision, the PieceHomes’ wrap house was erected inside LA’s Convention Center next to Dwell's Sustainability Forum speakers. Modern, modular and prefab at approximately $225/sf, there are a series of configurations, including towers and container varieties. They use green materials, energy-efficient tech and sustainable practices. Got a plot of land?

At Marmol Radziner Prefab's presentation, MRP admitted there's no prefab housing market or any other these days. But if the crowds around the booth were serious, they weren’t aware of any problem.


Model of a possible green apartment building at Opportunity Green booth.

If in the market, there's lots of options to research. Is renovating an existing property best, or a little house better or will an addition in the yard suffice? And which is the greenest prefab house? Of course, there’s always renting. One builder I ran into surfed the floors planned to environmentally retrofit his apartment buildings. I vote for more green landlords.

More on prefab houses:
What's New in Modern Prefab? (slideshow)
Prefab: Green or Greewashing?
Another Benefit of Modular and Prefab Homes
Ecofriendly Prefab Homes Debut in Turkey

Tags: Architecture | Green Building | Housing Industry | Recycled Building Materials | Small Spaces