Years ago, when the first LivingHomes were built, there were a lot of complaints from readers about how big and expensive they were, like " we should be concerned with mass greening and affordable sustainable energy solutions rather than meant to alleviate the eco-guilt of the wealthy." But most new technologies are like that, going for the early adopter rather than the mass market. Steve Glenn and LivingHomes were able to beat the price down with their RK6 model two years ago, but commenters still whined that it cost more than particle board and vinyl conventional construction. There is no way around it; limited run production of energy efficient houses built with quality materials always will.
But now LivingHomes is seriously pushing the cost envelope with what they call their "first affordable living home." It is designed in-house,
in collaboration with Make It Right, a nonprofit founded by Brad Pitt and architect William McDonough to build 150 affordable, sustainable homes in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, the neighborhood hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each C6 will help support the efforts of Make It Right.
At 1232 square feet, the base model comes in at $ 179,000, or $ 145 per square foot. On a house that small, that's cheap, particularly since the base comes with fiber cement cladding and Anderson windows instead of vinyl and vinyl, and cork flooring inside instead of vinyl and carpet.
It should be pointed out that this is not as cheap as it could be; That courtyard design increases the exterior surface area, with its cladding and insulation, considerably. Every room has cross-ventilation, and even the bathrooms all have natural light. It is also going for LEED platinum rating. This is not bargain basement design or construction.
Susan Carpenter writes in the LA Times:
Though prefab has long held the promise of design that's affordable, sustainable and efficient, it's a promise that historically has gone largely unfulfilled.
We are not there yet, because the price doesn't include land, which is hard to find and expensive. Individual purchasers still have to wend their way through permits and site preparation. But it is getting awfully close. More at Living Homes
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