This past weekend I skipped out to the desert to view pre-fab up close and personal (as opposed to online or on the showroom floor). Blu Homes had, literally, unfolded three separate units to create a cozy retreat for the Disney family in Joshua Tree's rocky terrain. This was no Mickey Mouse operation, but a home that was green, energy efficient, and tricked out with the latest and greatest in gadgetry, from radiant heated floors to low flow fixtures. Factory built in San Francisco in only 8 weeks, from designs in their versatile Origins line, the units, 3 in all (two Origin Home units plus a stand-alone guest unit), were carted out to the Mojave desert by truck and set up to take advantage of five acres of mesmerizing landscape. (You can watch the home being set up here.) Sleek finishes, walls of windows and an L-shaped veranda that sweeps around one side of the house pump up the volume to glamorous, a far cry from the outdated notion of shipping container living, with its whiff of compromise and roughing it.
What sets BluHomes apart from other prefabs is that folding technology (for versatility) combined with a tough steel frame (for strength). As a result, the homes, though built narrow enough to be carted to their final destination via truck, can be unfolded out and up and still be strong enough to stand up to extreme weather conditions. If, like myself, you're a lover of high ceilings, BluHomes is for you — the ceilings on the Disney home clocked in at 12 feet, but they can go as high as 16 feet. Hoping for a large living room? They can unfold a home up to 25 feet wide.
Choose a floor plan and home size that fits your needs, then choose your finishes. An online 3-D model lets you see how each choice affects the final cost of your home. To make things even easier, that price is all in: it includes everything from building to shipping to set up and finishing. With prices starting at $135,000 in California (because of its strict building codes and permitting, the priciest state), this is definitely design within reach. To make this lifestyle even more enticing, Blu Homes has partnered with real estate agents to help you find the land and lenders to help with the financing. They can even help you manage the other parts of your project, from foundation to utility hookups. Prefabulous, wouldn't you say? For more information, check out Blu Homes' website.
(Images 6 and 7: John Swain Photography; All other images: Abigail Stone)