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How to build a prefab smart home from scratch

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Constructing our Home of the Future starts in a prefab factory in Austin, Texas

Welcome to Season 2 of Home of the Future, a six-part video series co-produced by Curbed and The Verge that chronicles the buildout of a prefab home in Austin, Texas—designed with cutting-edge technology, sustainability, and innovation in mind. The journey begins this week inside a prefab factory. Stay tuned for new video episodes on our Facebook page.

With key advantages like higher quality control and faster build time, prefab construction helped solve the postwar American housing crisis and is responsible for some of the most inventive modern homes today. So when Curbed and the Verge set out to build our Home of the Future, we knew we had to go prefab. But what exactly does that entail?

On this first episode, we’ll visit Austin-based prefab builder Evolution Building Systems, whose 265,000-square-foot factory is essentially a giant assembly line for houses. The company produces roughly 50 houses a year this way, spending just one third of the time it takes to build a house on-site. Factory construction also shields the house from extended exposure to the elements, which allows better materials to be used.

The process begins with pouring the concrete floor. From there, the house rolls down the line, picking up walls, wiring, plumbing, and more over a series of 17 stations. All told, you can have a completed shell of a house in as little as five to six days, during which everything is carefully monitored. This is what our Home of the Future will go through.

Now, efficient construction is one thing, innovative design is another. For the latter, we’re working with Austin firm Ma Modular.

“Modular design means these units can be configured in multiple arrangements—they can even be stacked to create multiple floors,” says architect and Ma Modular founder Chris Krager. “You could think of them like big Lego blocks, that an architect can use to create the best design for the needs of the homeowner.”

For our house, we’re going with the Luna floor plan, which will have three parts: A large module for the living room, kitchen, and dining room; a smaller module for two bedrooms and a bathroom; and a third module for the entryway that connects the other two volumes.

To see what all this looks like, watch Episode 1 of Home of the Future above. Do check back weekly to see how we flesh out the house with the latest technologies for comfort, convenience, and sustainable living.