clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 5 most impressive prefab homes of 2019

From stylish backyard dwellings to a sleek floating home

A small wood-clad prefab home with slanted roof sits on grassy plot.
A modern ADU offered by Abodu and pre-approved by San Jose, California.

Whether it’s Kanye’s dome prototypes or Ikea’s plan to design residences for people with dementia, prefab housing of all stripes continued to make headlines in 2019. For our year-end roundup of the best prefabs, however, we’re highlighting the most impressive designs that are available to order.

You’ll notice that a few of these picks are intended as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which have had quite a year, especially in California, where new laws are making it easier for single-family homes to add a backyard unit. As prefab construction is particularly well-suited for the job, we’ll surely be looking out for more sophisticated, ADU-friendly prefabs heading into 2020 and beyond.

A city-approved modern ADU

An airy living room has heigh ceilings, a gray two-seater sofa, pale wood coffee table, and a view of the kitchen area in one corner. Koto
A bright corner dining area with a small round table, two chairs, built-in bench seating next to a tall window. The area faces a large opening with sliding doors leading to an outside deck. Koto

In an effort to incentivize more housing stock, the city of San Jose, California, recently pre-approved a backyard dwelling from Bay Area housing startup Abodu so that residents can buy and install one in as little as two weeks. The 500-square-foot house, designed by U.K. studio Koto, costs $199,000 and offers Scandinavian modern style with stark white walls, pale wood floors, and the option to add a curated furniture package.

A full-size algorithm-designed backyard dwelling

House clad in timber in backyard. Cover
All-white dining room and kitchen. Cover

LA startup Cover first unveiled its tiny box of a prefab studio/office in 2017 with algorithm-driven design as its claim to fame. This year, the company made its offering more ADU-friendly by unveiling a full-on one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. The 436-square-foot, L-shaped design features an open-plan living and dining area, and a bedroom tucked into the back. The cost of design and build is $193,000.

The popular Koda house gone aquatic

A floating tiny home at a pier with other boats. The tiny home has a rectangular shape and large windows. Kodasema
A living area on a tiny house boat. There is a couch, chairs, tables, shelves, and a staircase leading to the top of the boat. Kodasema

Kodasema, the Estonian design collective behind the sleek concrete tiny home ogled around the internet, has taken its ethos to the water. The Koda Light Float, built from a timber and glass frame, can be docked on pontoons or hitched to a boat. Inside, you’ll find the same Koda DNA of an open living room and kitchen under high ceilings, with lofted sleeping quarters and access to an expansive wooden deck. Price upon request.

Prefab home, Greek island style

Small box dwelling with white concrete walls and windows surrounded by olive trees. Mandalaki
Inside of house with white cabinets and wall. Mandalaki

Though first debuted in early 2018, the Mediterranean-chic Monocabin finally found a U.S. distributor this year in BoutiqueHomes. The clean-lined, whitewashed house designed by Milan studio Mandalaki measures around 280 square feet and assembles from modular concrete panels. The two-room interior includes a built-in bed, cabinetry, storage, and ample windows. The price tag is $56,094, plus up to $6,500 for shipping to the U.S.

A tiny cabin inspired by the airplane

Tiny aluminum cabin in woods. Tree Tents
Interior of rounded cabin with large windows. Tree Tents

The Fuselage is perhaps the most imaginative prefab tiny home we’ve seen this year. With a tubular shape inspired by airplanes, the aluminum and timber dwelling measures 17 feet long and about 8 feet wide. The intimate interior gets pretty cozy with triple insulation, radiant heating, a wood burning stove, bunk bed, and convertible table/queen bed. We also love the atmospheric citrus wheel window. Pricing starts at around $34,000.