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Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home Hardcover – October 1, 2012
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About the Author
Sheri Koones is an award-winning author whose previous books include From Sand Castles to Dream Houses, House About It, Modular Mansions, Prefabulous, and Abrams’ Prefabulous + Sustainable. She lives in Connecticut.
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On the downside, nothing in this book is too in-depth, and there is an annoying tendency in the modern prefab industry to talk about their houses as being somehow affordable for most people, but I've never once seen that as a reality. As much as I'd love to believe that building one of these houses could be cost-effective, the only thing I can really find are examples of wealthy people patting themselves on the back and overpaying for energy efficiency and "non-toxic" building materials. I'd like to see more sources in this industry really get down to the nitty-gritty of the cost-efficiencies involved and rely less on what I see as empty eco-marketing .
The first and second steps need to be implemented when the home is constructed, if at all possible. A later retrofit of these aspects is far less cost effective, and often not practical. Renewable energy however, is very possible to add to an existing home, and typically less cost effective than the first two steps during new construction. With limited examples of exceptional energy performance available in the marketplace, as I read about homes in this book that are on the path to energy independence with a superinsulated building shell, efficient systems, and either renewables in place or plans for renewables, I found the common thread to be very satisfying. It's important to keep priorities straight and the book delivers.
This book was a good value to me for the inspiration I found. I saw several houses in which I would want to live, and I would enjoy seeing even more houses and more pictures.
For anyone looking to lessen the impact of building, maintaining, and living in a home, this book gives great insight into the rapidly increasing variety of designs, pre-fab building techniques, and choices available a potential home buyer looking for new, better, (sometimes) less expensive, ways to create a very livable home. No longer does manufactured housing mean a simple colonial house with 8' ceilings and boxy rooms.
As much as every pre-fab maker wants to standardize their product, almost no one wants a 'standard plan' house. Everyone wants changes, additions, modifications to suit their individual needs and preferences. Every customer wants, or depending upon climate and location, needs a different level of 'energy' or 'green' features for their particular home and site. Sherri's efforts to show the wide variety of designs and building techniques now available from pre-fab manufacturers and forward thinking developers is admirable.
For anyone looking to build or learn more about what's currently available in the pre-fab world, I highly recommend you start your journey with this highly informative, well written book.