Bubil: Prefab and fabulous


Sheri Koones has been written about here in the past for her books extolling the virtues of prefabricated construction. Now she is back in print with “Prefabulous World: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Homes Around the Globe” (Abrams, $35).

Koones’ books are notable because, beside championing prefabricated and modular construction as the best way to achieve a well-built and energy-efficient house, she also showcases the latest trends in architecture.

While prefabricated houses can take any form, using any architectural language, the houses featured in this book tend to be what I call “millennial modern” — the warmer and curvier adaptation of the midcentury modernism Sarasota knows so well. But the thrust of Koones’ books, and this one in particular, is that a changing world of scarce resources demands a better method of construction. In her view, prefabrication is the answer.

“A crucial step in protecting our environment is to build houses that reduce the need for heating and cooling using fossil fuel,” she writes. “Building more energy-efficient houses in the United States and around the world can have a significant effect on the high consumption of fuel” in both the building and operation of the house.”

The main benefit of prefabrication, she notes, is that as the house’s components are built in a factory, there is less waste, and the parts fit tighter. The house can be built faster, at a lower cost and higher quality, than site-built houses, Koones writes.

The use of computerized saws in the factory makes the wood cuts more precise, she says.

“It is a superior way to build,” she says. “After Hurricane Andrew, FEMA determined that modular housing ‘provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing.”

The caveat to that evaluation is that residential building codes have been stiffened considerably since 1992. But the use of panelized wall systems and other alternative methods, she writes, continues to provide strong and green housing.

Koones’ other books include “From Sand Castles to Dream Houses,” “House: About It,” “Modular Mansions,” “Prefabulous: The house of your dreams, delivered fresh from the factory,” “Prefabulous + Sustainable: Building and Customizing an Affordable, Energy-Efficient Home,” and “Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home.”

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: May 10, 2014
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