I received an interesting comment the other day on an old post called "Dwell homes…Prefabs empty promise?" It is from someone who is an early adopter and is currently building a nexthouse. It just shows that not everything is as good as it seems.
As an early adopter of NextHouse, I will say - with resolute conviction - that this is not “affordable” housing. I’m loving the house as it goes up, and it will be quite wonderful to live in in a few months, but it’s a pretty steep price. My rough calculation, based on current cost overruns to address design issues, is over $285/sq ft (we’ll be 3050 finished), and we already owned the land. The price does include demolition, but even still…
The big differentiator will be the builder. Our builder is great. But if someone hires a builder who doesn’t have experience with Empyrean designs and how this stuff builds out, or the engineering and geometry involved, there’s going to be a lot of trouble. The decks and roof will be different out of the gate for future nexthouses than for our own, and it’ll be based on what our builder saw that Empyrean didn’t.
The other big issue is that nobody seems to be ready to help people who are replacing existing houses to find good ways to reuse the existing materials. A lot of these new kit houses will go up as replacements. While the kit construction strikes me as less wasteful than site building, we’re still missing a big piece. We downcycled some of the stuff, which isn’t optimal, but better than the waste stream where the rest of it ended. The NextHouse roof system is probably the same as the old Deck Houses - filled with nails, so you can’t hardly reuse the mahogany ceilings and posts in a future building. And Dwell Magazine, with its focus on selling advertising of brand new products certainly isn’t doing anything to help its readers and the communities at large think about and solve this problem.
Just a random rant on a Sunday night….
Thanks Susan for sharing your thoughts and experiences.