Going Mobile


I come from a place where homes are built from reenforced concrete and stone sidings, construction time will take about a year. I moved to a place where house constructions methods are called "sticks" "balloon frame". A place where homes could be just ordered out from a catalog, be assembled within hours after their delivery.

In the town I live in the housing market is very active. Houses are being sold and bought routinely, homes are torn down and mini-mansions are being built along side small nondescript small houses. On my street alone there are currently 3 active job sites. One had been completely raised to the ground, to the second house a massive addition was put on, and the third one caught my attention - the home was taken down, but the foundation was left in tact. A few weeks after, our street was closed down for the day, as trailer trucks delivered prefabricated parts of the home. At the end of the day a towering 3 story home had been added to the street.


I have to admit my initial reaction was shock and dismay seeing a home built at record speed is unsettling to say the least. After a few days as I was driving through my town I noticed a few more of these mobile homes being assembled. I was even approached by friend to make comments on some plans, and you guessed it, it was a mobile home plan. Even Dwell Magazine wrote up a piece about it in it's latest issue. Now that really caught my attention.


In 1908 Sears had started a mail-order home, so the mobile, pre-fabricated home is not a new concept. What is interesting to notice is the shift in peoples' idea towards the pre-fabeicated home along the years. From the initial excitement of this a modern way of building a home fast, to turing away from it as it were a cheap low-cost home, and now turning full circle back to it. 


I guess it has to do with many factors. We are just now seeing the spring of a reviving housing market, people have been hit hard, and are slower to part with money and many decisions being made at family tables want to eliminate the many of "unknown" factors. The finicky weather in the region can grind many construction sites to a holt, thus increasing the building costs and prolonging the process. Dealing with private contractors is intimidating to many people, who do you trust? The down side to pre-fabricated homes is that people feel they are limited with their choices, they can't leave their own personal mark. Homes will all look the same. It still suffers from this is a "cheap low cost home" reputation. 

On a larger scale, I feel mobile homes are the way to go these days. Like with the fashion industry, customization will become more and more available - thus eliminating the "they all look the same" fear. The known cost and time factors are huge at alleviating the unknown for many people. They can now focus on picking colors and kitchen cabinets rather than fighting with a contractor over hidden costs. Further more, this is the environmentally right thing to do, the martial waste is smaller, they can be re-used later on (maybe moving it to lower income areas), and they are now built to be energy efficient, the cleaner process allows for better quality control of the overall process. It sounds so easy I'm even tempted to try this myself. 

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