These prefabricated hurricane-proof homes cost less than $200,000 to build
Dutch company Cubicco has created a flat-pack, modular, prefabricated, hurricane-proof home that can be built for less than $200,000. And it could soon come to the Caribbean and Florida.
The Cubicco home, which is made up of laminated wood and cork, is designed to hold up to the high-velocity hurricane codes in Florida's Miami-Dade County. That means buildings must be able to withstand 185 mph winds, have impact-resistant glass, and be elevated off the ground. Other parts of the home, including hurricane-rated windows and doors, layers of plywood sheathing, and insulation, give it additional hurricane resistance.The units can be stood on stilts, moved around and disassembled. Because the homes are prefabricated, building crews can simply get trained to assemble the Cubicco units, get the parts shipped to a desired location, and complete construction in a few months. The structures' modular design also means they can be combined into small villages or larger homes.
The homes have a few optional bells and whistles to increase sustainability as well, including a water reclaiming system, spots for solar panels on the roof, and open slats that allow for geothermal heating and cooling.
The price for construction is generally below $200,000 before finishes, flooring, and appliances, though it depends on square footage. The company says that units usually cost about $175 per square foot to construct.
It's a high-tech, almost IKEA-like solution to housing, a "future-proof" home that can withstand tropical storms and usher people toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
Cubicco is an appealing model on those islands for several reasons. First, the designs are built to be hurricane resistant, a definite plus given how badly Haiti was recently hit by Hurricane Matthew. Second, the prefabricated construction process is more convenient since some materials can be hard to come by in island locations. And third, the construction doesn't create a lot of waste, which is an important consideration in places without much landfill space."Disposal is very expensive in the Caribbean - when you want to get rid of a dumpster full of construction debris, it's kind of an issue," da Cruz says.
Da Cruz won't yet say where the specific developments are located, or how many units will be in each project. But he says the company expects to finish them in the next few months.
Cubicco is now focusing on large-scale projects like these, and has stopped selling straight to individual customers. Da Cruz says part of the reason is that consumers generally look for the cheapest housing available.
"Most people in Florida will come to us because they love the idea and they love what we're doing. But when it comes down to dollars and cents, they don't want to pay for it," he says. "They don't want to pay for the additional installation. They don't want to pay for the water reclaiming system. So it's the kind of thing that, if you don't care about the environment, we're not the company for you."
Cubicco's design has been approved under Florida's building codes for modular units in Florida (which pertains to everything but the foundation), but the homes cost more than traditionally constructed houses because of their sustainable, storm-resistant features.
"We are not affordable housing," da Cruz says. "We're a higher end product that can be achieved for relatively decent price per square foot."
So while some buyers in Florida are still ignoring climate warnings and snatching up weather- and flood-susceptible properties, Caribbean homeowners will soon get a new, more disaster-proof option.