Amid LA’s housing shortage, enter the prefab — and stylish — home

The Sustainable Buildings Council's 1,240-square-foot home in the Arts District takes aim is cheaper and faster to build than traditional homes

Christian Johnston and ARCspace
Christian Johnston and ARCspace

A prototype modular home in the Arts District is getting attention as a potential way to address Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis.

The Sustainable Buildings Council’s 1,240-square-foot ARCspace prototype is faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly to build than traditional housing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is among those who have visited the home and expressed support for the design.

Perhaps the biggest challenge the mayor faces is how to address the city’s housing crisis, coupled with its growing homeless population.

Built by Sustainable Buildings Council — a group formed by filmmaker Christian Johnston — it is meant as a “living lab” and test case for the council’s prefab method.

It’s made out of four modules fabricated off site and assembled at the location. The on-site assembly took less than 48 hours, and cost around $150 per square foot.

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Prefab home construction is a growing movement in housing-strapped L.A. Some developers have turned to the method to increase the number of affordable units in the high-priced city.

Aedis Real Estate is planning a 98-unit supportive housing project built out of shipping containers, on Crenshaw Boulevard in Park Mesa Heights. Clifford Beers Housing is also working on one in South L.A.

Last month, prefab single-family home startup Connect Homes closed a $10.8 million round of funding.

ARCspace is built out of new materials, not recycled containers, which sometimes need to be cleaned of possible lead paint and hazardous chemicals.

Johnston says the modular design allows for growth and custom configurations.

“You have the ability to start small, then go vertical, horizontal, and then, if your housing needs shrink, you can take them off and put them in the backyard,” he said. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch