The advantages of factory-built housing are many: faster build time, less waste, and an indoor construction environment that provides superior quality control. But despite its appeal as a way to build, many U.S. home buyers remain skeptical that a prefab home can look as good as its site-built counterpart.
Vallejo, Calif.-based Blu Homes has been working to dispel this bias for years. Founded in 2008, the company is known for creating skillfully designed homes with spacious living areas, soaring ceilings, and walls of glass that connect interiors to the outdoors. The firm’s six standard offerings range in size from approximately 633 to 3,655 square feet; floor plans can be doubled with a lower-level finished basement. Prices start at $195,000 and go up to $1 million, with a broad set of options and upgrades.
Customers love the fact that the company’s process takes about six to eight weeks for construction and three to five weeks of on-site installation, depending on the model. Working from a 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Northern California, Blu has built more than 200 homes in California, New York, and Colorado.
“We are trying to do something that is prototypically American—use imagination, insight, and a sense of community to build something we can be inspired by and can draw joy from,” says Blu co-founder Bill Haney.
Constructed as a customized version of one of the company’s spec homes, which has since been sold by a private developer, the 3,938-square-foot RUK Sidebreeze in Healdsburg blends modern architecture with sweeping wine-country views. Distinctive design elements not usually associated with factory-built housing include a cantilevered second story, an open stainless steel staircase, and a 12-foot-high glass-enclosed living space designed for entertaining. A flex space on the first floor can be used as an in-law suite, office, or artist studio, says Blu designer Stephanie Nixon.
The home’s three modules were built in its Vallejo factory, prepared for shipping, delivered, and craned onto the foundation. Once the pieces were set, the floor frame was bolted to the foundation at specific structural load points and the modules were seamlessly connected at wall sections. This well-engineered approach represents a new way of thinking about how homes are designed and delivered, says Haney.
“We looked at the history of home building and came to one clear conclusion: It was time for a radical change,” he says.