Hi, I'm Jason. I'm a software engineer living in San Francisco, and I love doing extensive research before making major purchases.
Prefab homes have become increasingly popular, with modularization allowing buyers to customize the layout and functionality of their homes 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 the traditional (think log cabins) to the innovative.
6 Companies Offering Prefab Cottages and Cabins
In this article, I'll explore six U.S.-based companies that manufacture prefabricated cabins and cottages:
- Blu Homes (formerly Modern Cabana)
- Riverwood Cabins (Wood-Tex)
- Ready Structures
- Jenesys Buildings Laneway Homes
- Reclaimed Space
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 ease 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.
1. Blu Homes (Formerly Modern Cabana)
Modern Cabana was a San Francisco–based, family-owned business that was acquired by Blu Homes in 2012. It focuses on a small range of cabins that are relatively easy to assemble (assuming your carpentry skills are up to snuff).
The Blu Homes Cabana offers the following at a $195,000 starting price:
- 605 sq. ft.
- 10' ceilings
- 12' and 6' sliding glass doors
- 1 bedroom and 1 bath
- LED lights
- Multiple flooring choices
- Multiple countertop choices
- Appliance upgrades
- Solar upgrade
- Siding upgrade
- Standing seam roof
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.
2. Riverwood Cabins (Wood-Tex)
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 (Riverwood Cabins)
Wood-Tex's offshoot, Riverwood Cabins, has 5 basic cabin designs:
- Homestead: 1 1/2-story, 2-5 bedrooms, and 1,791-2,726 sq. ft., the Homestead design is one of the largest Riverwood offers. Prices range from $231,174 (3bd, 2ba, 1,791 sq.ft) to $329,620 (5bd, 3.5ba, 2,726 sq. ft.).
- Legacy: The A-frame roofed Legacy also offers a larger footprint, at 1,600-2,305 sq. ft. and 2-4 bedrooms. With a cathedral-style great room, costs run up to $314,093 for a 4-bedroom, 3-bath 2,305 sq. ft. home.
- Riverwood: This ranch-style, single-floor dwelling with 2-3 beds and 792-1,508 sq. ft. is the most popular style offered by the company. Prices run from $116,586 for a 2-bd, 1-ba 800 sq. ft. model (the 792 sq. ft. model is slightly more expensive) to $174,930 for a 3-bd, 2-ba 1,508 sq. ft. model.
- Sportsman: The classic, modest 1-3 bed cabins, on a smaller 390-1,334 sq. ft. footprint, range from $68,936 for the smallest (1 bd, 390 sq.ft.) to $156,283 for the biggest (2 bd, 2 ba, 1,334 sq.ft; the 3-bd models are a bit smaller and cheaper)
- Weekender: The smaller Weekenders offer 4'-6' porches and 2-3 bedrooms. Costs range from $111,437 for a 2-bd, 1-ba 660 sq. ft. model to $152,304 for a 2-bd, 2-ba 1,376 sq.ft model (the 3-bd models are more modestly priced).
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.
3. Ready Structures
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.
4. Jenesys Buildings Laneway Homes
Canada-based Jenesys Buildings offers prefab homes and laneway houses, the latter which can be configured as modest cottages. The line boasts 3 designs:
- LE596: the standard E Cube
- LW596: Wings
- LS596: Sierra
All three can be expanded to double from their standard 400 sqft to 800 sqft, and the firm is also able to draw up two-story versions based on the same footprint.
The basic shell package begins at $42,600, adding $7,200 for shell assembly. The Shell Plus package includes the following for an additional $46,900:
- Shell Package as above
- Shell assembly as above
- Siding, wood soffit & fascia materials
- Interior doors & hardware
- IKEA Cabinets
- IKEA Wardrobes
- IKEA appliances
- Floorcovering materials
- Plumbing fixtures – shower, sinks, w/c
Turnkey Construction Services
Jenesys also offers turnkey construction services for an additional $118,700 that includes:
- Foundation, slab, utilities, roofing, drywall, electrical
- plumbing, HVAC, installation of finishes, cabinets, etc.
- painting, decks, Home Warranty
5. Reclaimed Space
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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Ryan OConnell from California on June 27, 2020:
barbara on January 28, 2017:
I am looking for a 2- bedroom prefab home in kentucky
Richard william on February 08, 2016:
I'm living in Texas and purchased a tiny log cabins from ulrichlogcabins it is really great.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on August 24, 2014:
Thanks, Paula - I will update the entry above shortly to reflect your name change. :)
idigwebsites from United States on October 15, 2013:
We've got a large lot with a swimming and been thinking of getting this for a small cabana/cottage house -- separate from the main house of course, and just near the pool. It'll be really cute. Thanks for introducing this. :)
FullOfLoveSites from United States on October 03, 2012:
It seems I want to live in all of the cottages! They will be perfect for a single person or a couple. Some look very stylish indeed. A wonderful hub overall. :)
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on September 10, 2012:
Carrie Lee: I agree. I think the designs also make a tremendous amount of use out of such small footprints, and there are a few options available if you have a lot of land. At any rate, they seem to be better options for many people's needs than stick-built homes.
Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on September 10, 2012:
Awesome article. Didn't know there were so many options out there! :)
If someone had their own land and really wanted to downsize to a simple, affordable life/home this would be perfect. Most units are small, however, if people got down to their bare needs it probably would fit one or two people just fine. Thank you for this informative article.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on May 06, 2012:
Yeah, they're impressive, and since they're made at scale, any design flaw is weeded out after a few iterations. Didn't know about the permit & utility complexity; I guess upgrading an existing home makes those parts easier. But, yeah, might be a convenient in-law unit option. Good luck with property search!
Camille Harris from SF Bay Area on May 05, 2012:
D and I are actually possibly maybe going to get a prefabricated home! The biggest challenge seems to be finding suitable land within our price range. We visited a prefab home up in Healdsburg last week and were seriously impressed by the quality. If the permit and utility process were easier, this might be a more attractive option. We'll probably end up doing a remodel, then plop one of the cabins above on the land as an in-law unit!
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on March 23, 2012:
Thank you, Gals! I think it's a terrific option, too, if you only need a little space, or something seasonal. The only thing that would dissuade me is if one design was overwhelmingly popular in the neighborhood.
Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on March 23, 2012:
I just love the cabana. We've been thinking about going this route for a piece3 of property we have on a little lake. It looks perfect. Thanks for sharing. Up, useful, interesting and awesome.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on February 16, 2012:
Thanks, Eiddwen and Xenonlit!
Xenonlit on February 16, 2012:
I have been fascinated with this idea, but this is the best article on the subject that I have seen! Thanks for the comprehensive information. Voted up and awesome.
Eiddwen from Wales on February 13, 2012:
A very interesting hub which I vote up.
Thanks for sharing ;take care and enjoy your day.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on February 05, 2012:
Thanks, TLL! I'm one of those people with a terrible cat allergy, and I agree, these cottages are perfect as a guest unit or "in-law."
TheListLady from New York City on February 04, 2012:
Wow - you have put together an absolutely amazing hub here. I love this idea for a bit of land that I want. And now I can just bookmark your hub instead of jumping all over the place. Even if I wind up with a more traditional house I would still like one of these as a guest cabin because so many people seem to have allergies to cats.
Thanks a few millions! And rated up of course.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 30, 2012:
Thanks, Simone! I agree that the RS ones are beautiful. On a tighter budget, I like the Cabin Fever ones, since they still have a nice contemporary look to them. The Modern Cabana ones are, to me, really gorgeous.
India Arnold from Northern, California on January 30, 2012:
@Simone~ LOL! Today, livelongers prefab cabins and cottages are far more doable for this old bird! But, my dad sure knew how to get us to join him on some crazy, yet amazing adventures! ;)
Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on January 30, 2012:
Gosh, these are AMAZING! I don't know if I'll ever own a place of my own, but if I do, I should like to own a very, very small cottage, so I really should consider getting something prefab like these! I think the ones by Reclaimed Space are my favorite, just because the used wood makes them seem less.... manufactured. Though ALL of these are pretty gorgeous. Hmm... guess I should start saving up. With $100,000, I see one could really get something nice!
Thanks for the gorgeous presentation of info, pricing details, photos, and bits of background on these companies and the buildings they sell. This was a really fun read!
Also, @K9keystrokes, DAAAAAAANG. You did the real thing! O_O
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 28, 2012:
Believe me, Cardisa, there are some days I wish I were in a cabin in a remote part of Canada myself! ;) Thanks for your comment!
Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on January 28, 2012:
I have always disliked pre-fab houses. Here in Jamaica the pre-fab concrete walls are thinner but I do see less of those and people are using what we know as the cement boards instead and when they are done you can't tell it's not a real block or brick building.
I am partial to cabins because one of my dreams has always been to live in a cabin in Canada.
michabelle on January 27, 2012:
Very interesting and affordable options. They're pretty attractive, too.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 27, 2012:
Thank you for your comments!
K9: Wow, I'm sure building your own brings with it substantial satisfaction of having built something from scratch, but...these prefab units can capture the same look at a fraction of the effort. :) HubHugs and shalom; thank you for stopping by for a comment!
Leah: Good point, although these guys don't have wheels. (They are brought to the home site, though, via truck) I wonder how many RV owners actually take their camper on the road, though? For those who don't and who are honest with themselves, these prefab cottages might be a better alternative. Thanks!
Edgar Arkham from San Jose, CA on January 27, 2012:
Very interesting article.
Leah Lefler from Western New York on January 27, 2012:
This is a fantastic guide! A lot of people in our area own land on the lake or on the edge of state lands, and a pre-fab cottage would be an economical way to provide some lodging. I really like the company using reclaimed materials - so many people out here purchase RV's and use those as temporary housing, but the pre-fab cottages are cheaper and more environmentally friendly!
India Arnold from Northern, California on January 27, 2012:
When I was much younger, our family built a log cabin from scratch. We fell the trees, mortared the gaps, even stripped the bark and poured the foundation by hand. My dad was really into his "frontier" stage of life (we just don't talk about his "outhouse" project). These prefabs are far more beautiful, and much easier to built, to say the least. This brings back some very cool memories for me. I have always secretly wanted a modern style cabin, and the fact that you show me a few Prefab versions, really rings my dinner bell! I love the studio cabana idea, what a great way to add flair and a comfort casual style to a home. I was really surprised by the low prices,...very surprised! Great hub my friend!
Cheers and a rustic Shalom!