Pricing and Design Info for 6 Prefab Cabin & Cottage Firms
Prefab homes have become increasingly popular, with modularization allowing buyers to customize the layout and functionality of their homes, but at a generally lower cost than stick homes because of standardized components (the Ikea effect?). Designs are impressive, too. Long gone are the ugly, cookie-cutter looks of manufactured homes; you're far more likely these days to see contemporary styles integrating wood, metal, glass, composites, and other materials that speak to 21st-century tastes.
The prefab revolution has even infiltrated cabins, cottages and other small, typically one-room structures. Some companies are using shipping containers in a clever, postmodern riff on industrial styling. Others are exploring a full range of formats, from traditional (think log cabins) to the innovative.
In this article, I'll explore six U.S.-based companies that manufacture prefabricated cabins and cottages. I've tried to include relevant pricing and lead time information, as well as images indicative of each firm's design direction. I have my personal favorites, but I really am inspired by the thought given to each design's aesthetics, functionality, and easy of assembly (if there's any assembly required at all!).
A note about costs: Each firm's products are distinct from one another, and different from competitors' as well, so while it's difficult to pin pricing to some standard metric like square footage, I've provided pricing on some of these companies' popular models so you can get a feel for what you can expect.
Modern Cabana is a San Francisco-based, family-owned business that focuses on a small range of cabins that are relatively easy to assemble (assuming your carpentry skills are up to snuff):
- The base Functional Cabana, with a 10x12 footprint (120 sq ft is apparently the largest size a structure can have without requiring permits, in many US jurisdictions). It comes with cedar siding, 4 windows and a sliding glass door, maple interior, and an OSB floor. Price: $11,500 in kit form, or $14,700 assembled by the company if in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- The mid-level Upgraded Cabana, with a range of 5 footprint dimensions (8x12 to 12x25). With a similar type of construction as its simpler sibling, the Upgraded adds R-9 ceiling insulation and R-13 wall insulation made of recycled denim. Flooring is also made of bamboo instead of OSB. Pricing runs from $15,375 ($19,300 installed in the Bay Area) to $30,980 ($38,980 installed).
- The Studio adds bathroom and kitchenette fixtures, including Kohler bathroom fixtures, a tub, and tile, and KitchenAid small refrigerator and stovetop. The ceiling insulation is upgraded to R-23, and the windows are dual-pane, low-E, both useful to shield from extreme outside temperature ranges. In an interview with Jetson Green, the founder of Modern Cabana, Casper Mork-Ulnes, mentions that the Studio starts at about $57,500.
The company can also arrange for a foundation if one is needed. They also work with local electricians to manage the electrical hookup after installation.
NOTE: Modern Cabana was acquired by Blu Homes.
If traditional is what you're after, you couldn't go more traditional than Wood-Tex. They're designed and built by the Amish! In addition to horse barns and chicken coops (fancy some part-time husbandry?), the company offers prefabricated log cabins, cottages, and sheds. As you might imagine, with simplicity comes a decidedly postmodern design aesthetic and reasonable prices. The company is based in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York (Himrod, on Seneca Lake).
- Log Cabins: Wood-Tex has 7 basic cabin designs: the Adirondack (a narrower, deeper footprint) and Weekender (similar in many ways to the Adirondack, but with a wider layout and a broad front deck), both of which have a range of sizes up to 24 ft x 48 ft, as well as the Lanier, Cayuga, Keuka, Gatlinburg, and Woodland.
Prices begin at around $54,000 for a single-storied, 13' x 36' Adirondack model delivered to Rosebud, Texas, and about $181,000 for a two-story, 25' x 40' Gatlinburg. This includes simple tongue-and-groove flooring, insulation, and a finished interior, but without options like kitchen & bathroom, electricity, or additional windows or doors.
Note that if you're closer to their Himrod, New York, headquarters, prices will be lower.
- Sheds: The company 9 shed styles, from Victorian cottages, to poolhouses, with similar rectangular layouts and dimensions (6 ft x 8 ft, to 14 ft x 40 ft), but different designs and optional styling. The Colonial Quaker Shed will bring you back to 17th and 18th century America, while the Victorian cottage evokes an Industrial Era English look with its dormer roof and centrally-fixed octagonal window.
To give some indication on pricing, a 6 ft x 8 ft simple Garden Shed runs about $2,035 without options (give or take a couple of hundred bucks depending on your siding choice, Duratemp cheaper than vinyl), while a 14 ft x 40 ft Victorian cottage would run about $8,230 for a Duratemp-sided cottage, and about $2,300 more if you wanted vinyl siding. (Duratemp is 1/8" Douglas fir backed by 1/2" plywood; the costs above include painting)
The company also manufactures prefabricated garages, gazebos, furniture made from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs, and the aforementioned horse barns and chicken coops.
Taking a more contemporary turn, Traverse City, Michigan-based Craven Construction's Ready Structures (formerly Cottage in a Day) manufactures a small range (6 models, each with some layout variants) of small, attractive, eco-friendly prefabricated cottages. Square footage ranges from 182 to 750 sq ft, and prices, depending on layout, from $49,500 to $206,000 plus delivery, a price which includes installation (within Michigan; out of state can incur additional installation and permitting costs) and high-end, environmentally-friendly kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
In addition to the style demonstrating ample modern flair, Ready Structures' models pay attention to environmental friendliness:
- Bamboo flooring
- Structural insulated panel (SIP) construction (OSB over expanded polystyrene; typically an R-value of 13.8)
- Energy Star® windows
- Concrete pier foundation (low impact to home site)
As its former name implies, installation (for the smaller models, at least) can be accomplished in a single day, but there is still some lead time involved for fabrication of the home, particularly if there are any customization options.
Speaking of options: while the decks, kitchens, and bathrooms are standard (depending on layout choice), optional fireplaces, wood stoves, outdoor showers, stackable washer/dryer combinations, and additional kitchen features like a garbage disposal and dishwasher, are available.
Cabin Fever, with offices in Miami and Los Angeles, offers 4 dimensional variants of its Maxwell series, ranging from 320 sq ft (the Maxwell 16-20), up to 800 sq ft for the 2-bedroom, 2-bath 16-50. The simple, bungalow-style designs come with relative affordability: $29,900 for a bare-bones ("Shell-Plus") 16-20, up to $92,100 for a fully-outfitted 16-50.
Fixtures and appliances are from Ikea, but they can be upgraded, as can insulation (R-22 roof and R-17 walls are standard), the standard maple interior paneling and kitchen surfaces, bamboo flooring, and Duro-Last PVC membrane roof.
In addition to the Maxwell line, Cabin Fever offers the Zip (starting at $16,500 for the 120 sqft plan) and custom and commercial options.
With a nod to early 20th-century industrial designs, Reclaimed Space offers a range of modular cabin/cottage options made with reclaimed building materials—we're talking lots of corrugated metal surfaces, vintage fixtures with an original-looking patina (clawfoot tubs, anyone?), and plenty of unfinished wood. The visual nostalgia is still pretty affordable: an average of $150/sqft, for a range of designs starting with a small 196 sqft $34,000 with basic bathroom and kitchenette, to the 1240 sqft $198,400 Breezeway full size home with two bedrooms and one and a half bath.
By using materials from old homes, barns, and building structures that would otherwise be destined for landfill, RS claims that its products are environmentally-friendly. The homes are also assembled "drop-ready" at their headquarters in Austin, Texas, requiring just a few hours to connect to any utility (water, electricity, sewage) hookups, provided there's a slab foundation ready.
San Francisco-based YardPods has two main small cottage variants, based on materials: ST (light-gauge steel) or SP (structured insulated panel), the latter a bit of a better value and able to be shipped around the country (the former is limited to California buyers). Sizes range from 8' x 8' (64 square feet) to 10' x 12' (120 square feet), although they do offer custom footprints as well. There is a tremendous range of options available--from roofing materials and shape, to exterior walls, and power choices--allowing the buyer plenty of customization options.
Pricing runs at just over $3,600 pre-tax for a bare-bones, floorless small cottage delivered within the San Francisco Bay Area, to $8,500 pre-tax for a 120 sq. ft. model with a shed roof with cool roof membrane delivered to Los Angeles.
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Updated for 2016: Price per square foot for 20 prefab (modular) home companies' products, including Blu Homes, Proto Homes, ideabox (Ikea), weeHouses, and many others.