Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Honey, the house is in the mail: Looking at pre-fabs

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Dear, I am going down to Ikea to order the house. Pick the nice Scandinavian one, Bob. There all nice Scandinavian ones he grumbles. You know the one I mean. The beige two story. Be sure to get all of the extras for the garden. Well, of course I am going to buy everything for the garden; all I was asking about is the shed. Should we have a shed or use the garage? Of course we need the shed. Honestly, you men do not know how to shop. Do I need to come with you? Sorry, dear, I didn’t hear you. I am going out the front door.

When he returns, he announces the flat pack is in the mail. We have to wait six to eight weeks dear. Are we going to put it together? Well, I am pretty handy. So we are hiring a builder then.

I was looking back over some plans from Archigram’s designs for pre-fabricated homes in the sixties. They were innovative designs meant to create well designed homes for the masses. I almost think that with today’s CAD-CAM technology, it would be easy to make some of their designs practical, although maybe not desired. The dream for the pre-fab home has always been to produce really good affordable housing. Many architects have taken up this cause in different ways. Looking back at some of the Bauhaus designs for worker homes can make you wonder what they were thinking. Beautiful lines with no appeal to how someone will live there lives.

The magazine Dwell has sponsored a contest the past few years to encourage the development of pre-fab homes. Over the course of the year, you can follow the progress of the home. With the end of the construction, Dwell and the homeowners open up the homes to the public view, and this has become quite an event. Dwell’s reporting is good, dealing with the positives as well as process pints that need to be improved. Architects, manufacturers, and builders in the United States have risen to the challenge, and the results are stunning works. The biggest problems are tied together: developing a building process that works more smoothly, and the cost. Currently, most pre-fab homes are costing around $260 per square foot, which is not really an affordable home. I have seen the price go up, but not many below that figure. When the building process is improved, the cost should come down to a more affordable range.

Enter Ikea. Ikea has teamed up with a Swedish builder to produce flat-pack homes. It has been reported that the homes come equipped with Ikea’s cabinets and furnishings for the interior and exterior. The homes are called BoKlok which means LifeSmart. They are very Scandinavian in design, so they may not appeal to everyone. Ikea has now started offering these homes in the U.K. The positive side of this is that with such a major force behind this style of house, prices should come down. In fact, Ikea’s price is really good. The negative aspect of Ikea’s involvement is how they will be selling the home. They want to maintain strict control over the homes, so you can only obtain them through one seller. If you wish to sell the home, apparently you will have to agree to go through that seller (this was according to one report, but I have not found that yet on the company site).

You may be thinking Ikea, so I could build it myself. You will still need a builder. I wait to see how these homes will be accepted in the U.S., but maybe this will be kick that we need to really develop this idea further.

« « The Art of Deconstruction, or Why I am concerned about the loss of a movie theater| The Harvest Will Be In: The Problem with Gutters » »

© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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