Though it's not timed like the seasonal in-and-out of wasteful, disposable fashion, housing trends do eventually change along with the times. With a) an aging boomer population emptying the nest, and b) a growing number of urban-based millennials, plus c) more people looking to something more efficient to maintain and hopefully more tasteful than a monstrous McMansion, it makes sense that smaller homes are coming to the fore, be they self-built tiny houses, micro-apartments or high-quality prefabs.
California-based AVAVA Systems is one of these companies offering high-end, flat-pack, prefabricated small homes with an emphasis on ease of assembly, sustainable materials and seismic strength. The company's flagship product is the Britespace, which comes in three sizes: 264, 352 and 480 square feet.
They all use AVAVA's innovative framing system, which is not only strong but is relatively simple to put together, taking only a matter of weeks, rather than months, to completely build the home. Incidentally, the system was first successfully tested by founders David Wilson and Michael Kozel during the Burning Man arts festival in 2005, to show that it could be a better alternative to the 150-year-old stick framing system. The company explains:
The AVAVA framing system is designed to create the skeleton or frame of building with as few components as possible. A typical 264 to 480 Britespace home is assembled using only 16 bolts and no nails or adhesive. It allows for open floor plans and large window walls without the use of expensive steel assemblies.
Readily available engineered wood I-joists are combined with our patented connectors called Joist-Locks to create moment-resisting frames that support our structures for design gravity, wind, and seismic loads. This eliminates the need for traditional plywood shear walls or steel moment resisting frames. Our I-joist space frames also precisely set the geometry of our structures thus allowing for roof, floor and wall modules to be installed easily and taken apart easily as well.
The house uses structural insulated panels (SIPs), Marvin windows (the largest being 10’ x 16'), Jet Board and IPE siding, real oak flooring and all LED lighting; all materials are formaldehyde-free and low-VOC. With the addition of a solar power system, the house can be a net zero energy house.
Construction waste is significantly reduced with the prefab mode of building, and the company estimates that 50 percent less concrete is used for the foundation. Best of all, the home can be easily disassembled and erected elsewhere; this prefab can go where you go.
Of course, quality doesn't come cheap: the base price for the smallest 264-square-foot Britespace -- pictured above -- starts at USD $60,000, rising up to $90,000 if you add a kitchen and bathroom and topping out at $123,000 for kitchen, bathroom, and all the premium finishes and architectural options. The company expects that costs will be reduced as production scales up, however. While small homes may look the same on the outside, Avava's robust framing system and use of high-quality, sustainable and local materials may make all the difference in the end. For more information, visit AVAVA Systems.