When governor Jerry Brown signed a law that made Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) legal in California, it started a revolution in the ways that homeowners, builders and city planners think of small living. Homeowners’ applications for these small backyard buildings have skyrocketed after this regulatory reform in 2018. The goal for California cities is to increase housing stock in a region that has a very low density and a great need of housing. As a result, housing is not affordable.
Steve Glenn, the founder and CEO of Plant Prefab, approached us to design a prefab system with Plant’s design studio, LivingHomes, to cover a range of consumer needs and price ranges. The result is the LivingHomes YB1, the first line of homes from our collaboration, designed to showcase the design, quality of workmanship, flexibility and sustainability that LivingHomes is known for.
Design for prefabricated and efficient living is an opportunity to think systematically about buildings, rather than as a one-size fits all solution, and the adaptability, affordability and sustainable elements of the YB1 system make it a stand-out in the market. It is anticipated that the prefabricated ADU market will grow substantially in the next decade as consumers seek additional housing solutions for their relatives, and cities seek to increase rental housing stock by making the process of adding small homes to existing properties more convenient. Together, our goal is to respond to this trend in a novel way, building inspired living environments that are as creatively designed as they are groundbreakingly functional, and to make them attainable for urban dwellers of the future.
The structural system of YB1 allows for a wide range of internal layouts. It is based on a 4’ grid that is full height, allowing the homeowner to pick full height windows, clearstory or rigid walls all around the building. This allows for shaping light, privacy and cost needs very precisely. A unique feature of YB1 is that it allows for multiple roofline options: the home can be designed with a standard 8’ ceiling height and flat roof, a 10’ ceiling with a clearstory running the entire building, or a pitched roof that provides climate adaptability, neighborhood style integration, or adds a loft addition.
By using helical piles, pillars that are screwed into the ground upon which a structure can be built, construction of the homes can include a foundation, but it is not required. Pricing will have a range based on size, configuration, appliances and materials. Upon order, the home takes a few weeks for manufacturing and one day for installation with all electrical, plumbing, lighting, HVAC and appliances built in.
The design is cost-efficient and adheres to LivingHomes’ high environmental efficient standards, using materials like wood slats paneling, concrete and stucco panels. The model options are also responsive to climate. Flat roofs that allow for solar panels can be incorporated, which work well in southern regions; likewise, the design of pitch roofs assimilate well in colder areas and mountain regions. YB1 homes offer a wide range of creative building configurations — modules for full kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and bedrooms (or offices) will be available, and because of the flexible features, they can accommodate different sites, design interests and lifestyle preferences.