If you’re in the market for a prefab dwelling—either as a full-time home or backyard unit—options are aplenty. What L.A.-based startup Cover wants to add to the equation is a tech-driven efficiency that makes the whole design and building process a total breeze for the customer.
As detailed in a new profile on the company over on Co.Design, Cover sees itself as more of a tech company than a prefab builder. Indeed, whereas a typical prefab buying process would begin with choosing one of a few model plans and maybe then consulting with architects to tweak the design for specific needs, Cover turns the whole design process over to computer algorithms. Co.Design explains:
Once customers begin the design process, Cover sends them a survey of about 50 to 100 questions to inform the design. It asks about lifestyle–how many people typically cook a meal and what appliances are must-haves?–and structural needs, like should they optimize one view and block another one?
The company also use computer modeling to optimize window placement, cross-ventilation, and natural light, making use of zoning, sun-path, and geospatial data. All of these parameters are then sent to a proprietary computer program that spits out hundreds of designs that satisfy the requirements supplied.
Here are a couple of key things to know about Cover’s prefabs:
- The company is specializing in the accessory dwelling unit, which is a secondary structure on a property with an existing single-family house. They can serve as guesthouses, in-law units, offices, yoga studios, and potentially a source of rental income.
- While the computer will churn out a whole bunch of designs, Cover dwellings generally have a minimal modern look with an insulated steel structure, glass walls, and built-in storage.
- When you order with Cover, the company takes care of the whole process, from coming up with a design, as described above (which takes three business days and $250), to acquiring necessary permits (two to five months, $20,000), to building and installation (12 weeks, final price contingent on the specific design). Some sample costs offered on the website are as follows: $70,000 for a guest room, $130,000 for a studio with a kitchenette, $160,000 for a one-bedroom unit, and $250,000 for a two-bedroom unit.