Written by Matt Hickman, Mother Nature Network
There’s a new modern green prefab company on the scene gearing up to produce sleek, factory-built homes that no doubt possess a couple of deceiving, shipping container-ish traits including, most notably, an easy-to-transport nature and rectangular form.
But when it comes down to it, these modular beauties are anything but shipping container homes. In fact, the folks at just-launched Los Angeles-based Connect:Homes make a concerted effort to distance their product from the retrofitted shipping container home fad, claiming that “[shipping containers] contain a lot of toxic materials, are very difficult to re-purpose, and really aren’t meant for habitation.”
Founded by architects Jared Levy and Gordon Stott, two expats from industry heavyweight Marmol Radziner Prefab, the mission of Connect:Homes is to “deliver modern homes that are affordable, green, and available wherever your are.” The company is placing a big emphasis on that last aspect, widespread availability, as Connect:Homes will be the first prefab company capable of delivering modular homes completely through the standard intermodal network. That is, the homes can be seamlessly delivered to installation sites virtually anywhere via rail, ship or the industry standard, truck, without any hidden costs or logistical headaches.
What’s more, Connect:Homes’ innovative, patent-pending modular system cuts delivery costs by as much as 90 percent, and the homes are 90 percent completed (the industry standard hover around 50 percent) at the company’s Southern California factory prior to shipping, meaning that less time, energy and resources are wasted during the installation process. Electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems along with exterior and interior finishes and doors and windows are all taken care of, leaving only module-line seaming, utility hookups, and a few other details to be tackled during installation.
Explains Levy in a press release announcing the launch of Connect:Homes:
“We did not want to be limited by geographic location. There is a growing global demand for affordable green, energy‐efficient homes, but until now there hasn’t been a way to sell homes to national and international markets. Connect:Homes will change that, delivering our homes from factory to doorstep anywhere in the country with the same ease as any other major commodity.”
In terms of geographic location, the lovely renderings released by Connect:Homes prove that the homes look good just about anywhere, from woodland meadows to uber-dramatic hillside perches to suburban lots. The homes themselves will be available in nine different models that range from the 640-square-foot, one-bedroom Connect:2.1 to the Connect:8.4, a 2,560-square-foot abode that spans two levels and includes four bedrooms. In the middle are the Connect:5.2 and Connect:5.3, two- or three-bedroom configurations that measure 1,600 square feet. Prices for the homes start at $145 per square foot/delivered to $165 per square foot/installed.
On the green front, all steel-framed Connect:Homes are designed to attain LEED Silver certification out the door, with Gold and Platinum certification — and net-zero energy status — a possibility depending on additional bells and whistles added at the installation site. Standard green features in each home include LED lighting, recycled glass countertops, a high-efficiency water heater, water-conserving fixtures including dual-flush toilets, FSC-certified bamboo flooring, EnergyStar appliances, zero-VOC paints, finishes, and adhesives, a whole-house ventilation system, low-E windows, high levels of insulation, a fully recyclable, heat-deflecting cool roof, exterior wood siding and decking made from FSC-certified cedar, and much more.
Rooftop solar arrays, rainwater catchment systems, a hot water recycling pump, sliding sunscreens, trellises and a few other features are optional upgrades. And, of course, Connect:Homes’ factory building process is a highly efficient, low-waste affair that eliminates the massive amount of construction waste (8,000 pounds!) associated with traditional building by 75 percent. The install process itself is estimated to take less than two months with minimal site disturbance or the need for a massive crane.
“Our goal was to give consumers the high quality home that they desired at a price point that they could afford. The conventional building process is inefficient and the prefab industry does not currently deliver on its potential. We knew there must be a better, smarter way to build modern, sustainable homes that people could actually afford.”
Right on. Head on over to the Connect:Homes website for plenty more info, images and a mighty informative breakdown of the process of buying a Connect:Home. And although the company has yet to complete an actual home, a prototype Connect: 2.1 will be on display at Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center from June 22 – 24. Be sure to check it out if you plan on attending this year. Post-Dwell on Design, the “pop up” home will also be open to the public somewhere in the L.A. area.
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