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Green Live & Work

A case for modular homes as more than just a trend

Do you remember the days of Sears catalog houses (or do you remember your parents telling you about them)? You could pick a floorplan and your chosen home would be shipped to you. This method went quiet for decades but never quite went away. Today, factory built homes range from the ultra cheap to the ultra modern expensive.

The benefits of factory built modular homes have a growing segment of buyers flocking to custom designers, but Stillwater Dwellings claims no company was effectively meeting the middle ground pre-fab home buyer, so they took the challenge and are now well known for being able to customize, manufacture, deliver and construct a home above the foundation in as little as three months while producing 50%-75% less waste than traditional building sites.

Their designs range from $130 to $200 per square feet which offers eco-friendly design and top-grade materials and finishes that look similar to some of the extremely high end pre-fab homes on the market.

In case you’re not familiar, the way it works is you (the Realtor) and your client work directly with the general contractor to get the foundation and utilities laid while Stillwater Dwellings works with you and the client to pick a floorplan, get the custom design finalized, it is built in the factory over three to four weeks, shipped to the site and from crane to finish is another three to four weeks.

Their focus is sustainability and they claim their homes are healthier to live in and cost less to run than a traditionally built single family home. They use low VFC paints, dual flush toilets, recycled materials, energy star appliances and are all LEED certified.

The designs are contemporary but warm, attempting to relate to the surrounding landscape with warm materials rather than the cold industrial feel of many boxy pre-fab designs. Stillwater Dwellings Co-Founder Matthew Stannard said, “we are not trying to telegraph to the world that [the houses] were made in the factory; it’s not about looking like a box because it was made in the factory.”

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As sustainability becomes less of a hippie theory and more a part of America’s identity, Realtors will be faced with clients requesting less traditional methods like homes built in a factory with recycled materials. Consumers are more educated today than ever and are aware of the impact of every choice they make from the waste produced in standard building to the light bulbs used in their bathrooms. In areas where this trend becomes common place, agents will take on the role of land sales and project manager.

Have you worked on a pre-fab project or had clients inquire about them? Tell us in comments what it’s like in your neck of the woods.

AGbeat is not affiliated with Stillwater Dwellings.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Dixie Sanger via Facebook

    March 8, 2011 at 6:53 am


  2. jay Great Falls

    March 8, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Modular rox! A lot of people don’t realize how classy modular can be with acclaimed home designers like William Poole coming out with modular lines/floorplans. Here’s example:

    Now if that doesn’t open one’s mind to the modular route and its benefits I don’t know what will.

  3. braxton

    March 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I think they are great. Many people don’t realize that often they are better built than a house built on-lot. They seem to do well in East Austin.

    • Lani Rosales

      March 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Braxton, I agree. I wish demand would go up so pricing would come down, $200/sf is still a little high for my flavor, but in Cali, that’s no bad!

  4. Debra Sinick

    March 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Pre-fab and modular is back in a big, energy efficient way. The designs are great, now we just have to get the costs down so more people can afford pre-fab design.

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