Thursday, August 6, 2009

Is Prefab in Chicago Impossible?

Well, that's what I have been told by developers. My husband and I have been in love with modern prefab designs for years, but did not think it could ever be done in Chicago. We were actually thinking of relocating to Seattle --- well, for other reasons, really, but partially because they are sweet on prefab in Seattle. Not only do we love the modern design, but the sustainability features and cost are attractive as well.

Michael and I like clean lines and modern spaces. We had looked for homes that were "modern," but in our price range we could only find condos, and we really want a single-family home. There are many beautiful modern single-family homes, but they didn't fit our needs for several reasons: 1) they were over a million dollars, 2) they would have over 4,000 square feet of space, which is completely inefficient for two people who do not expect to have children, 3) they would often be attractive, but not necessarily energy efficient, and 4) did I mention that they are over a million dollars?

We toyed with the idea of buying an older home or two-flat and rehabbing it, but the expense and the inconvenience of living through it seemed overwhelming to us.

Well, lo and behold, I was able to find, through the help of some colleagues, an architecture firm in Chicago that has the same philosophy that we do. Square Root Architecture + Design is a local Chicago architecture and design firm headed by Jeff Sommers. Apparently he has this same prefab dream, and also is sustainability conscious, and has been working on a design for a prefab model for a while now. He and his staff have designed what they are calling the Urban C3 or U-C3 Take a look at the website and see what they're all about. We fell in love with it right away.

Square Root is ideally trying to design a model that not only is incredibly energy efficient, but also affordable. They are currently modifying the design to make the model as cost efficient as possible --- ideally the U-C3 baseline model will cost approximately $125 per square foot. Also, Square Root has designed the building to meet all the zoning and building codes in Chicago - no small task. I will continue to discuss this model in future posts.

So, long story short, Michael and I are signing on --- we want to build the first U-C3 in Chicago, and, as far as we know, the first prefab in Chicago. Our goal is to have this home built before the end of 2009! My hope for this blog is to highlight the process for anyone else who is interested in this type of architecture, so that they may learn from our successes and mistakes. More to come!

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