It’s hard to believe that the sleek contemporary house perched atop a hill overlooking New York state’s Hudson Valley was built more than 3,000 miles away in a former submarine factory on Mare Island, Calif. This “doesn’t look like a modular building,” said one jury member. It looks like a gorgeous custom home,” they continued, praising how clerestories and built-ins warm up the interior. It’s even more difficult to imagine that this house with 14-foot-high ceilings traveled 3,000 miles folded flat on the back of a flat-bed truck trailer. The Breezehouse, built by Blu Homes, is a modular house with unusual features. It is constructed with hinged walls so after it’s built, the walls can fold over the “wet wall,” where all the plumbing is housed, until it’s flat and narrow enough to travel across the country as tidily as a pile of plain lumber.
Blu Homes’ Breezehouse model, made of three modules put together in the shape of a capital I, allows lots of opportunity for light and shadow. It is the company’s most popular model, but it’s not always configured in the same way.
“We don’t build custom homes,” says Dana Smith, the company’s communications director. “We customize our own modules. We have eight designs to choose from and then there are thousands of ways you can personalize them, sometimes by configuring the modules together,” and sometimes by adding exterior details such as decks and landscaping.
The home has many green components. It was built with recycled steel framing, high R-value walls, and energy-efficient windows and doors. Its butterfly roof also can be outfitted with solar panels. Finishes are low-VOC, and there’s radiant floor heating, Energy Star–rated appliances, and energy-efficient lighting.
Every Blu Home is LEED Silver certifiable without additional upgrades, and hardwood flooring options are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and sustainably farmed. Each home is designed to maximize natural light using proper solar orientation and design. Factory construction, of course, reduces waste and on-site construction time.
This modular house in Copake, N.Y., was constructed on site as part of a 12-home site by developer Neil Costa with input from local conservancy groups.
Modular construction has its limitations because of interstate transport restrictions on size plus transportation costs. . The hinged walls make shipping this whole house across the entire U.S. feasible.