• Cozy. Charming. Traditional. Of the many descriptors that leap to mind, prefab isn’t one of them. Yet this island guest house, designed by Studio 29 and built by Method Homes, arrived on Orcas Island as four modules, and was put together with cranes in less than a day.

  • The modules employ traditional stick frame construction, most of which happens in Method Homes’ Ferndale, Wash., factory. The benefits of factory construction boil down to time and efficiency. Buildings proceed side-by-side, allowing for bulk purchase and economic use (and reuse) of materials. The company claims a material waste of less than 10 percent. Factory construction reduces exposure to the elements when sections are not yet finished, and limits disturbance caused by trips to and from the home site.

  • Modules are constructed side-by-side in the factory with standard “2 x 6” framing and plywood sheathing. Framing lumber is regionally harvested Douglas-fir. Clients can request FSC-certified lumber.

  • Modules take four to eight weeks to build, and arrive on-site 85 to 90 percent complete, with interior finishing, fixtures, windows and siding. The Buoy Bay modules arrived only partially sided, so workers could install the steel straps necessary for the building’s structural integrity.

  • Though barges and ferries carry modules to the San Juans, most of the time they’re shipped on flat-bed semis, one per truck. Method Homes uses Acc-U-Set Construction to deliver and install many of its projects. “They go just about anywhere we go,” says Peterson.

  • Acc-U-Set and Millican Crane Service work together to set the modules. Reps from Method Homes are always on-site the day of the set, too.

  • Modules are insulated and partially sided before shipping. The Obstruction Pass modules feature board and batten rainscreens and cedar shingles. Rainscreens are often used in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

  • The back side of the house includes a shallow pitch roof sited to optimize the 3.4kW solar PV array.

  • The cottage includes many Craftsman touches: beadboard ceilings; nooks and built-ins; knee braces; frame and flat panel wainscoting and classic Craftsman cornices.

  • The house includes an electric radiant floor, aluminum-clad windows, and Jenn-Air Energy Star-rated appliances.

Orcas_Dusk_Jeff_Hobson_web_list

Cozy. Charming. Traditional. Of the many descriptors that leap to mind, prefab isn’t one of them. Yet this island guest house, designed by Studio 29 and built by Method Homes, arrived on Orcas Island as four modules, and was put together with cranes in less than a day.

Topics: Bamboo, 1500 square feet or less, solar, Energy Star, aluminum clad wood windows, radiant heating systems, composite siding, prefabricated homes, Method Homes

The Guest House at Buoy Bay was the prototype that launched the Cottage Series, one of eight pre-design series offered by Method Homes. It’s located at the south end of Orcas Island, one of the San Juan archipelago off the Washington State coast. Architect Christopher Rost hopes his collaboration with Method Homes will open up opportunities in residential prefab.

“There are two factors limiting [the market] today,” he says. “The stigma of the mobile home and the emphasis on modern in high-end prefab.”

Working in the beautiful but fragile environment of Orcas Island prompted Rost to seek construction methods that minimized environmental impact; he also wanted to design structures that were flexible, expandable, and moveable. After briefly considering shipping containers, he concluded pre-fab was the way to go, especially for island construction, which is often characterized by hard-to access sites on steep slopes.

For a more detailed look at this project, please visit our Magazine Archive, and view our October 2013 issue.