The terms “Container House design” and “prefabrication” don't often go together, but Lake|Flato Architects is trying the mix with a modular house.
The San Antonio-based firm — better known for its modern residences and for snagging the American Institute of Architects' coveted Architecture Firm Award in 2004 — is launching a new subsidiary company, Lake|Flato Porch House, to offer factory-built homes certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Architect-designed prefab homes are a relative rarity in Texas, but the concept has gained some traction on the East and West coasts.
The modules are being manufactured in Navasota, 70 miles northwest of Houston, by GroundFORCE Building Systems, and everything — cabinetry, flooring, windows, electrical and plumbing — is installed in the factory.
Modules are 17 feet wide, so they can fit onto a truck. But living rooms and bedrooms come in varying lengths that can be stacked on top of one another or placed together in varying configurations. Local builders who work with the firm will place the homes on their foundations, construct the porches and add exterior finishes.
“You still have to be able to personalize the design and adapt it to the site,” said Ted Flato, principal at Lake|Flato. “Each project is an attempt to come up with something new.”
The first Porch House is complete in Vanderpool, about 80 miles northwest of San Antonio in Bandera County, and a second is under construction now in Hebbronville, 155 miles south of San Antonio in Jim Hogg County. Others have been designed for sites in South Carolina and Baton Rouge, La.
Because it doesn't make economic sense to truck the modules more than about 500 miles, the architects have been in touch with manufacturers in Utah, Oregon, Maine, New Hampshire and Georgia.
The homes also can be designed as “net zero” with solar panels.
The Porch House puts a big emphasis on things the firm is particularly known for: porches as an extension of living space, a connection with the outdoors and placing a home on a piece of property so that it takes advantage of views, prevailing breezes and solar orientation.
“What Lake|Flato does particularly well comes into play,” said Lake|Flato architect Bill Aylor. “Yes, this is modular construction, but we're still applying our design expertise on how we can respond specifically to different sites.”
Although the word “prefab” can conjure images of trailer homes, the movement has taken off across the country as high-end architects have delved into a more affordable residential design. The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2008 did a prefab exhibition, “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling,” commissioning five architects to build prefab homes in a vacant lot next to the museum.
Sheri Koones, author of the 2010 book “Prefabulous + Sustainable: Building and Customizing an Affordable, Energy-Efficient Home” (Abrams), said prefab homes have some advantages over traditionally built homes. There's little waste that gets tossed into a dumpster, and workers are not traveling to remote sites during a months-long construction process.
“In some ways it's easier for houses built in a factory to be more sustainable,” Koones said. “And the weather has been so crazy all over the country, it makes sense to build a house that's in a protected environment.”
Lake|Flato first kicked the prefab idea around in earnest when the economy (and the architecture business) slowed down in 2008.
Designing and building a home with an architect is often a two-year process. But going with the modular design can compress that time period to between six and nine months, Flato said.
Depending on the number and size of units chosen, as well as interior finishes selected, costs for a completed and delivered Porch House will run between $150 and $225 per square foot, plus design services.
It's still a pricey product, but about half of what a traditionally built Lake|Flato Modular Home might cost. “It's a very affordable way to use an architect, but it's not going to work for everyone,” Flato said. “This is not for someone who doesn't care what their spaces are like.”
Although the excavation itself demands only fairly rough measurements, when it comes to lining out the footings, you'll have to muster all the accuracy you can. A Container House builder's level (wielded by someone who knows how to use it) will provide the best results, but you can get by with some wood scraps, mason's twine, a carpenter's spirit level, and a 100-foot measuring tape.
I'd suggest that you use the process of triangulation to ensure that your foundation layout is square. As you likely know, Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, discovered that the square of the long side of a triangle is—if the other two sides are perpendicular —equal to the sum of the squares of those other two sides. In building, we usually work with what is known as the "3-4-5 triangle," simply because it's so easy to measure.
To line out a foundation using 3-4-5 triangulation, first set a stake with a nail in its top at one corner of your proposed structure. From that stake, measure two sides of the house, eyeball a perpendicular corner, lightly set stakes at the two new junctions, and stretch twine between the three posts. Now, check the squareness of the right angle by marking the intersecting lines at points three feet down one string and four feet down the other. The shortest distance between these two marks should be exactly five feet. (You could work with a 6-8-10 triangle, or any other multiple of 3-4-5, and doing so would provide even greater accuracy.) Continue by staking the fourth corner and rechecking the triangulation (the process is time-consuming, but don't rush it!). Once you're satisfied with the layout's squareness, level the stakes by checking the string with the carpenter's level and adjusting the corner heights as needed.
Batter boards are simply frameworks, set beyond the foundation area, from which lines can be stretched to indicate either trench sides or centers. When you stretch the strings, compare them with your stake tops to see that they're level and in line, and then double-check the measurements before you start digging.
If your excavation was fairly level to start with, you may be able to cut the trench for the footings right into the exposed subsoil. Trenches should be cut with smooth vertical sides, and you should check for the correct depth from the lines. The bottom is normally 16 inches below floor level, but it may be deeper under door thresholds or where there is no berming (the bottom of the footing must be below the frost line). When digging, you'll have to remove the original stakes, so the lines stretched between the batter boards will end up marking the building's boundaries.
If, however, trenching isn't appropriate for your soil type, you'll have to form footings on the excavation floor with braced and anchored 2 × 8's. (Once the concrete has set, the boards will be removed.) In this case, your Granny House level will be 16 inches above the excavation bottom, and your base course (we'll get into that in a few more paragraphs) will be 12" deep.
You can probably pick up a small used bin for a few hundred dollars (or even free). Used bins are frequently available on craigslist or ebay. You could also put an ad in a local newspaper or on your local farm co-op bulletin board. There are companies that can move the bins to new Container House — ask around at farm stores to find them.
Prices of new steel grain bins depend on the diameter, height and region of the country, but costs start at about $7,000 for an 18-foot-diameter bin, not including the cement foundation slab or assembly.
The Japanese, except for those living on one far northern island, have always — to my knowledge — lived in unheated houses. To do this, they've developed many beautiful techniques for keeping warm techniques which make a Japanese home quite different from what most Americans might imagine.
Japanese houses, it is said, are designed to be comfortable in hot weather while Western homes are constructed for comfort during cold weather. This may be true, but the average temperatures in Japan cover roughly the same range as those of the United States. Match degree against degree, for example, and you'll find living in Tokyo very similar — temperature-wise — to residing in Washington, D.C.
The traditional Nipponese home and its inhabitants, in other words, have happily survived many centuries in a climate not very different from our own. And that house and the people who live in it have done so without central heat.
How can this be? Can unheated houses really be comfortable?
Yes they can. I grew up in Japan and was fortunate enough to always live in traditional homes. I love them dearly, in fact, and much prefer them to the centrally heated "ovens" so typical of our culture. Perhaps, if I describe a typical winter's day as we lived it in our Japanese house, you'll understand my feelings.
Basic carpentry and mechanical skills are required to convert a grain bin to another use. The number of doors and windows will be limited, as too many can weaken the structure. So plan ahead and check with an engineer if you have any doubts.
New steel Modular Home create low-maintenance structures, such as this office and apartment on a farm in western Kansas. If the steel is recycled metal, it’s even more eco-friendly. Owners Louise and Vance Ehmke say, “Our grain-bin office/scalehouse/residence is just cool. It turned out far better than our expectations. Everybody who comes here (including the governor) says it is one of the neatest things they have ever seen. The structure itself is clearly unique, but the rustic, high-tech interior takes it off the charts!”
Nicholas Kemp is an online educator and speaks and read fluent Japanese. After living in Japan for 10 years he returned to Australia and started his own online Container House business. He teaches Japanese with the help of his Japanese wife and has produced several multimedia rich products he help people read and speak Japanese.
This incredibly affordable modular container home is designed for customization, Something the designer wanted so that the owner would have some choices if need be. The container homes are made to store and retain heat conserving energy and can be modified to include a balcony and interior configurations.
Those that take the modular concept one step further and decide to use shipping containers as the basis for their modular may find even greater advantages - if they are careful.
Modular container buildings use the architecture of 40' x 8' and 20' x 8' shipping containers as the basic building blocks for their project. While standard modular building modules can be constructed to almost any desired dimensions and the modules attached to one another for a complete structure of any dimensions, container modular buildings are somewhat limited to 20 foot and 8 foot increments.
The other considerations are building codes. The local building officials should be consulted early in the design portion of your project and involved throughout the process. It is their job to k now that you are constructing a safe building that meets all applicable building codes. Some of these codes may prove to be problematic in your design process. For instance, in most northern climates the International Building Code (IBC) as adopted by most states will require an R-19 insulation package in the exterior walls, this means you need 5 ½ " of fiberglass insulation plus ½" sheathing or gypsum to accomplish the R 19 R value. Taking 6" out of an 8 foot wide room can start to become a lot of valuable real estate when you consider standard mattress sizes and the distances you need to walk around the sides of your bed.
It is been quite a topic on how many people would want to have these steel boxes for homes. But with the impressive angles they give when built and the awesome structures they have, they don't just guarantee fantastic living platforms, they also build-to-last spaces.
Another factor that will help the modifications to be made is the house's final blueprint. When it comes to modifications there are a lot of ides you could think of. These include going for installing solar panels or you may prefer soy-based insulation or better yet choose eco-friendly amenities. Or perhaps yet you may find it attractive to remove some panels so you can have floor-to-ceiling windows. There are so many ideas on how you can modify your place but the lesser the modifications to do the easier the whole construction will be plus you won't worry about going over your allotted construction budget.
Built tough from weathering corrugated steel, these incredible tough building blocks of international trade are designed to withstand stacking, stuffing and strapping and are reused over and over again. There is an estimate of over 18 million of these containers floating, riding and flying around the earth today, but the most recent sustainable design trend has found these Mobile Toilet revamped to contain a more delicate cargo: People.
The Container House provider will operate an intake center and program office. The service provider must provide intake services Monday through Friday during business hours, and accommodate both referrals and drop in clients.
The Mayor’s Office has improved the proposal for the Sand Island site to be used to house the chronically houseless. One of the main improvements include the installation of container units instead of the previous plan of providing a single main canopy on the property for up to 100 persons. Despite these design upgrades, the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery highlights several concerns with regard to safety and effectiveness for the proposed plan on ending houselessness. ·
First, there are enforcement issues based on the question of how the City intends to move people to Sand Island. In practice, we worry that methods may be by threat or force due to existing and new criminalization laws targeted at the houseless (Stored Property, Park Closure, Sidewalk Nuisance, Sit-Lie)? ·
Second, these container units will most likely not have built-in cooling abilities. The Sand Island site becomes very hot during the day and averages at least 90 degrees during the summer. Container units may “bake” under the hot sun, disincentivizing healthy, sanitary, or comfortable care. ·
Third, there is a lack of access to clean drinking water. There exists no infrastructure for clean drinking water access at the Sand Island site. Port-a-potties and portable showers will not address this lack of access.
Hale Mauliola will be a point of entry into Honolulu’s system of homeless services known as the Continuum of Care, and be a centralized location where homeless individuals can go for basic services, and begin the transition out of homelessness.
Homeless persons arriving at Hale Mauliola will:go through a standardized intake and assessment process to determine their specific needs,have a case manager assigned,have an individualized support program developed to determine a path to begin the transition out of homelessness, and be offered various housing and shelter options that may help them begin the road back to housing within the broader community.
The units will be provided at no cost to qualified residents. Persons who reside in these units must be engaged in case management and a service plan that will allow them to transition to housing or shelter within 60 days. People will NOT be allowed to pitch their tent or construct temporary structures at the Granny House project site.
The advantages of Container Container House are many: faster build time, less waste, and an indoor construction environment that provides superior quality control. But despite its appeal, many home buyers and builders remain skeptical that a prefab home can look as good as its site-built counterpart.
“As a designer, I believe prefabricated architecture can beautifully balance quality, experience and economic feasibility,” says the project's architect. “The architecture of this compact house is characterized by natural materials, space, openness and identity. It is a clearly recognizable property that you can make your own.”
The construction costs for prefabricated houses are always fixed in advance of construction. Most modular dealers and manufacturers offer guaranteed prices for long periods of time, even in a market of moderately rising material and labor costs. To secure this price lock, the customer needs to authorize their home to be built, sign-off on all plans and specifications, and have their order accepted by the manufacturer. This process greatly reduces the possibility of cost miscalculations and overruns later.
The home uses natural, acceptable abstracts for a high-end feel and a basal footprint. The skeleton is fabricated of solid FSC wood, which carries into the home’s interior, and solar panels are chip into the roof.
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Building a Container House will normally save you time compared with building a conventional stick-framed Granny House. Saving time on construction not only saves money, it also reduces the stress involved in home building. The faster you build your home, the sooner you will be able to enjoy it and dispense with the worries and preoccupations of Prefab House.
Well, Container House are much eco-friendly than conventional homes as well. Compared to site-built construction, modular construction creates less landfill trash, because the factories that produce them get better lumber, and waste less during framing, and some even use the bits they cannot reuse as fuel to heat the factories. On the other hand, most site-built constructions produce over 4 dumper loads of debris, and a great deal of wasted materials. Cannot believe? Just look inside a dumpster the next time a framing crew is busy at a job site near you. Overall it is very hard to get framing crews who are paid for labor only to care about the materials they wasted, after all the builder only pays for that.
What is more, modular homes offer more bang for your buck. Obviously, everyone likes a bargain, and modular homes are right up there as bargains go. Because modular homes are produced in a facility that buys materials in mass quantities, and the labor rate in the rural areas where modular factories are is much lower than in major metropolitan areas, they tend to be cheaper as compared to a home built to the same specifications in the field. Custom modular homes will be much cheaper than custom one-off homes built in the field if the finishes are equal as a general rule. That, however, doesn’t mean that modular homes are always cheaper, because there cheaper ways of building a home as well. As is typical with most products, you get what you pay for, and all things being equal, a modular will typically deliver higher performance than a site-built home of the same price, giving you the proverbial more bang for your buck.
Finally, you need to realize that when all things are considered, the modular process just makes sense. If quality, speed, performance, and cost are all better with modular homes, why would anyone choose to build the old-fashioned way. Obviously, modular home can give you better experience with more efficient cost.
The above are all benefits that modular homes can offer you. Nonetheless, everyone has their own preferences, you still need to choose the Granny House depend on your preference, as we as the financial situation.