Blu Homes is trying to make affordable, attractive pre-fab homes. And soon, they’ll produce more energy than they use.
Affordable, high-quality prefab homes have always been a dream not quite within reach. The market today is limited (only 2% of new single-family homes), and known for flimsy cookie-cutter models that don’t appeal to most mainstream Americans. But that’s slowly starting to change as premium factory-built homes become a more viable option for average property owners.
The company most responsible for this trend in the U.S. is Blu Homes, a Bay Area startup founded in 2008. Using its online software, Blu Homes allows customers to mix, match, and personalize their dream home down to the small details. From there, it takes care of almost everything else, including permitting (see its factory here). By developing an origami-like folding system that allows it to economically ship larger houses all around the country than can normally fit on a flatbed truck, it has been able to create higher-quality, for a larger consumer market. Its projects can be completed from beginning to end in as little as a few months with no contractors needed, as opposed to the often multi-year, time-intensive process of typical home construction.
While the homes are still expensive, Blu Homes wants to do for the factory model of home production what Ford did with the car. Higher volumes on its production line will eventually lower costs for everyone. Today, Blu Homes are more in the range of would-be Tesla buyers. Eventually, co-founder Maura McCarthy envisions something closer to the Model T.
In 2015, while doubling sales, the company has been able to lower its prices for the first time. While most of the homes it has installed so far have been in California and the East Coast, it is starting to penetrate middle America—selling units now in Michigan and Oklahoma.
“My five-year vision is a $350,000 Breeze house, that’s where I’m headed—and every other house is going to be pulled along with it,” says McCarthy, referring to the company’s biggest model, a three-to-five bedroom, nearly 3,000-square-foot home that starts at $495,000 today.
The Latest on: Net-Zero Houses
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The Latest on: Net-Zero Houses
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