Updated: Feb 3, 2020
Thanks to our wonderful client, who documents each stage of building his new Stillwater home on a steep slope in California, we are able to share this excerpt with you.
“Stillwater Dwellings, my home designer/builder, describes their product as ‘Modern Prefab Homes’. But when I say ‘prefab’ to most people, I get that look of ‘so you’ll be living in a trailer or converted shipping container’. While I don’t actually care what people think about most things, as someone invested in this building type, I do feel the need to educate or update people’s thinking around modern prefab construction. Do all of Stillwater’s homes conform to a certain design style? Yes, and I feel that is at the core of their product – well-designed homes offering a specific look, but with many personalization options. Can you simply select a floor plan from their catalog of proven designs? Yes, but any of them can be customized to a great degree (I’m living proof of that). Are specific pieces of the home built in a factory and delivered to my site? Yes, and having pieces constructed in a controlled environment to exacting standards is a huge benefit that offers both quality and efficiency. Are specific finish packages offered? Yes, and there is a large group of people who want everything taken care of, but my experience with Stillwater has been one of using the packages as a base, and then really changing anything I want. For all intents and purposes, my project is a custom built home. But lately, I like to describe it as a systems built home.
Systems built is a newer definition that further muddies the water, but I also think adds clarity to the range of what is considered prefab. It is also a great description of the building technique used in my home – and leads most people to ask, “what’s that?” – opening the door to my evangelism. The components of a systems built home can be used across a variety of home designs within the style of home being built – making it efficient and lowering overall costs versus building every piece from scratch on site. While these components are built in a factory, they offer many ways that they can be used in a design – offering a huge degree of customization of floor plans and finish options. Ultimately, I feel a systems built approach offers the best of all worlds in that I get a design I love, the way I want it, offering both precision and speed over more traditional building techniques. And given the approval process of building in LA, I’ll take whatever time savings I can get.”
- Stillwater (soon to be) Homeowner