According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of having a new house built in the U.S. was $305,372 in 2016. Clearly, this cost can vary A LOT depending on what choices you make, and there are A LOT of choices when you decide to build a custom home. More often than not, many people go far over their initial estimated cost as the process drags on. If you’re looking for a less expensive, easier to design, and more sustainable home, then a prefab modular home could be exactly what you’ve been dreaming of. Although there are very spendy options out there in the prefab world, we found eighteen that should all be less expensive than the U.S national average. And that’s just the beginning of the long list of benefits that come with deciding to go the prefab route. Learn more about the benefits of prefabs and check out these eighteen inexpensive sustainable homes almost anyone can afford so you can start researching your new (and smarter!) dream abode.
A prefab, or prefabricated home, is built offsite in a factory and then shipped to a building site in pieces to be assembled on the home lot. Prefab homes are more than just affordable — they come with a plethora of benefits for their owners and the earth!
It’s easier to gauge how much material is required for a prebuilt home since the same formula is followed for each model. This means that prefab builds result in far less materials waste than traditional builds. And since materials are stored in a factory instead of on-site, they’re less likely to be stolen, vandalized, or damaged.
Not every house could stand up to the long journey of being shipped to another site! Prefab homes require extra materials to reinforce the house frame for delivery, so they’re inherently much more durable than traditionally-built homes.
SHORT CONSTRUCTION TIME
By the time a traditional site is prepared for the building process, a prefab home will already be built. And since building takes place indoors, weather delays won’t pose any problems. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that most prefab projects are completely finished in around 5 months — sometimes in as little as 60 days!
LOWER AVERAGE PERMIT VALUE
The National Association of Home Builders, states an “average permit value of $76.80 per square foot versus $94.34 for site-built.” Average permit value is a more useful figure than price according to Paul Emrath, NAHB vice president for survey and housing policy research. “It is necessary to base the cost comparison on permit value rather than price, because about 80 percent of modular homes are custom built on the owner’s lot and therefore record a sale price, unlike site-built homes that are often built speculatively for sale at some point in the future.”
Ready to explore? Here are 18 awesome eco-options.
Note: Base prices as of the writing of this article are listed, but may have changed. Check with each manufacturer for current cost.
LivingHomes make use of healthier, more sustainable building materials and energy-efficientsystems and products — and they do it with some serious style! The C6.1 is LivingHomes’ first low-cost prefab. Comfy, conscious, and complete, the nearly 1,300 sq. ft. home features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and ample living and storage space. In this prefab you’ll find LEED Platinum level features and lots of storage, light, and warmth. BASE PRICE: $179,000
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom C6.2 is a compact model that fits perfectly on narrow lots, but still offers plenty of space and outdoor mobility at an affordable price. This home’s 8-corner layout offers more visual interest than rectangular models. It combines clean, modern design with LEED Platinum level certification and C2C (Cradle-to-Cradle) inspired materials. BASE PRICE: $159,000
Method Homes is a custom manufacturer of precision-engineered, modern prefabs that can be built to obtain credits for green building certifications like LEED, Living Building Challenge, Passive House, and more. The M Series represents Method’s most affordable prefab selection. It features multiple interior and exterior finish options, so the homes are fully adaptable for various sites, locations, and owner needs. BASE PRICE: $162,000
Blu Homes is known for their luxury prefabs, and the homes (including the Cabana) are typically on the higher end of the price scale. But the elegant design of Blu Homes is tough to beat! The Cabana is a modern, flexible and elegant “tiny” home, featuring smart size design, a glass Nanawall to let the outdoors in, LED lighting, and GREENGUARD-certified products. BASE PRICE: $190,000
IdeaBox is like the Ikea of prefab houses — the design possibilities are endless! The designers at IdeaBox are experts at using the prefab housing system to create cost-effective, sustainable, and imaginative housing. Each home is designed with sustainable bamboo flooring, and energy-efficient construction, and the Sage House is the perfect example. This 1,014 sq. ft., two bedroom wonder cottage is flexible, rugged, and spacious. While the Sage House isn’t big, it’s definitely not small! A large living space is anchored by a chef inspired kitchen. Large sliding glass doors open the whole house up. Two large bedrooms are opposite each other with access via simple openings in the wall, closed off with barn doors. For large living in a smaller, sustainable space, the Sage House is the perfect fit. BASE PRICE: $164,500
The design concept behind IdeaBox’s Haven House was heavily influenced by the uninhibited openness of older, warehouse-style lofts. And it’s certainly spacious! Three zones — living, sleeping, and working — combine to create an appealing blend of modernity and functionality. The bedroom is the perfect size, with generous space to move around and plenty of storage space. But it’s in the living space that the whole design truly comes together — the room is as huge as a modern cottage could possibly offer. The kitchen sits under a large window on the end wall, and the giant, 12-ft wide, three-panel sliding glass door with windows above provides the most dazzling view of the outdoors possible. BASE PRICE: $131,800
Hive Modular homes all adhere to sustainable design ideas such as building small and efficiently. The company values modern, yet efficient living, and they exercise the value by never over-sizing their spaces. In addition, the homes are built with high-quality windows, insulation, and other materials to ensure your home is green and environmentally-responsible. Hive Modular B Lines homes are affordable, stylish, and sustainable. Designed for urban infill lots as small as 40′ x 100′, these homes give the feeling of large living on a narrow footprint. BASE PRICE: $160 per sq/ft
While Cabin Fever’s remarkably affordable prefabs are not built to the highest sustainability standards, upgrades such as more efficient insulation and heating are available, so you can make your home greener over time. The studio-like Maxwell, Cabin Fever’s flagship model, comes in many sizes and layouts, from the 1-room studio to a 2-bedroom 2 bath model. The Maxwell home can be individualized to meet your specific needs. Cabin Fever cabins are available in any stage of completion, from shells to complete building packages. BASE PRICE: $29,900