by N. R. Mallery
a review of Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid by Sheri Koones
Some time back, Sheri Koones watched as a pre-fabricated house was being built. She was impressed by the speed and efficiency of construction. She was also impressed by the beauty of the finished product, but when she talked with friends about this, she found them disbelieving. It turned out they were thinking of very different construction from what she had seen.
She started writing about prefabricated housing that most people did not know anything about. These are beautiful, spacious, comfortable. They could also be expensive, even though they were built as modules in construction plants, instead of out in the field. Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid is one of several books she has written on these homes.
The fact that they were built of modules also does not preclude purchasers having homes that are uniquely their own, as many readers of Green Energy Times might know. The homes built in the controlled environment of Bensonwood’s plant in Walpole, New Hampshire were covered in GET’s June 15, 2014 issue. Most of them are entirely custom designed by architects for the customers who order them.
Shari Koones covers Bensonwood’s more moderately priced Unity Homes series in this book as one of over thirty designs she describes in some detail. Here, however, her interest goes beyond what is efficient and beautiful to what is highly efficient without sacrifice of appearance. This makes it really an inspiration. The houses she covers are not necessarily intended to be entirely passive, but they are all getting close to that goal. They are also approaching it in a way that is highly durable and practical in the long term because of the construction advantages of modular construction.
The combination of efficiency and beauty was not lost on actor Robert Redford, who wrote the book’s introduction. We live in a time when we need to find new and better solutions to the problems we have with pollution and resources protection. He clearly points out the fact that residential buildings account for thirty-eight percent of all of our energy use. If we can reduce that to the smallest amount possible, then we will have gone a long way toward preserving our environment.
Shari Koones tells us about one way we can save the environment and at the same time live more comfortably, in more beautiful surroundings, often at lower cost. It might possibly not be the only way of achieving those goals, but it is most certainly one of them.
This is a book that anyone who is considering building a home should read. Doing so will not only benefit the reader, it will very likely benefit all of us.