Traditionally, low-carbon housing has been a relatively high-cost affair, with its reliance on photovoltaics, gray-water systems and iPhone-controlled appliances. But a new kind of prefab house aims to put the highest environmental features and the lowest possible price under one roof. Last month, Santa Monica-based LivingHomes debuted its latest model, the C6, in Long Beach, California. The 1,232-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath house takes two months to construct and just one day to install on-site. Total price: $179,000 in most states. That’s less than half the cost of LivingHomes’ other models, according to the company’s chief executive Steve Glenn. “The two biggest cost categories in homes are materials and labor,” he says. “We got the C6 price down by sourcing lower-priced materials and by simplifying details so we needed less labor to construct the homes.”
This all isn’t to say that the structures skimp on style. Designed as part of a partnership with Make It Right, the nonprofit founded by Brad Pitt and architect William McDonough, the C6 homes were inspired by iconic developer Joe Eichler, who built low-cost modern homes throughout California during the 1950s and 1960s. With a focus on indoor/outdoor living, the homes feature multiple sliding doors to the backyard and courtyard, understated cork floors, wood ceilings, VOC-free paints, and, proving that no detail is too small, recyclable doorknobs.