Last year we made one huge mistake. We wrote that the second-best way to experience prefab homes without buying one is by getting up close with Google Street View. However, those curious about living in a prefab home have another no-commitment, low-cost solution that’s even better.
Airbnb has many modular, shipping container and prefab homes listed for short-term rental. Here are six places potential prefab owners should consider visiting to see how prefab homes look in person.
1. The NY Shipping Container Apartment, New York
When the owners of New York’s first shipping container house bought a vacant 20-foot-wide lot in Williamsburg, they didn’t plan on making history. After getting a project estimate of $300,000 with conventional construction, they chose shipping containers to save money. The 1,600 square foot apartment, made of six containers, cost $50,000 to build. Visitors can now rent the first floor of New York’s first (legally built) shipping container home through Airbnb.
2. Fly House, Palma de Mallorca
The Fly House, designed by Espai Fly Studio, makes the most of a tiny space. Besides two rooms and a kitchen, Espai used the containers’ surfaces to create outdoor areas including a patio. The design allows affordable customization and mobility. The possibility the owners would eventually desire to move meant Espai built the house with the capability to be disassembled, relocated, and reinstalled.
3. Little Box on the Prairie, Montana
This 700 square foot house was featured on HGTV’s Extreme Homes and was made from two converted shipping containers. While visitors can experience living in a prefab home, the view is the property’s real draw. It sits on a 10-acre plot of rolling grassland below the Absaroka Mountains, and the house’s simple design gives it an unobtrusive look beside its surroundings.
4. Silverlake House, Los Angeles
Another first on our list, this house in LA was the first modern prefab home on the West Coast. MEKA, the company behind the house, specializes in modules for construction built with the same dimensions as shipping containers. Shipping containers share many benefits with modular systems, but they have limitations. The house, which is 480 square meters, cost just over $100,000 with foundation work, roofing and assembly included.
5. Lotus Lake House, Grass Valley, California
The Lotus Off-Grid House in Grass Valley, California is an excellent choice for architecture buffs. It was designed by award-winning architect Michelle Kaufmann, who specializes in sustainable building and design with prefab. Many outlets have written about the property including Dwell, Sunset Magazine, and Inhabitat. It has “Build it Green” and “Keep the Sierras Green” certifications.
6. Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo
Your prefab home project probably won’t look anything like the Nakagin Capsule Tower. The building is the world’s only existing residence from Japan’s post-war Metabolism architectural movement. It serves as an early precursor to the modular high-rises of today, and recurring proposals to demolish it prove highly controversial. Most of the tower’s 140 pods are uninhabitable, and in 2007 residents voted to demolish the building and replace it with a modern one. Despite conservation efforts, it’s not clear what the future holds, so experience it while you can.