Now that Massachusetts-headquarted Blu Homes has taken Northern California by storm with several completed and in-the-works projects including Healdsburg’s 2012 Sunset Idea House, the super-busy builder of affordable, green prefabricated homes is opening the doors of its first completed project in Southern California this weekend (Sept. 15 – 16) for tours.
Unlike a majority of the company's projects up north in Sonoma and environs, this home, located in the Mojave outpost of Joshua Tree, isn’t a next-gen Michelle Kaufmann design such as a Breezehouse or Glidehouse (as you may recall, Blu Homes acquired the assets of Kaufmann’s shuttered green prefab firm back in 2009). Rather, the remote desert retreat is based on Blu’s endlessly versatile, low-cost (starting at $135,000 in California and Canada and $125,000 elsewhere) Origin design. More specifically, the Joshua Tree house is two 18-foot-wide Origin modules joined by a site-built connector.
It’s also worth pointing out that the proud owner of Blu Homes’ first-ever Southern California installation is Tim Disney, filmmaker, grandson of Roy Disney, and great-nephew of you-know-who. A vocal supporter of prefab building, Disney also happens to be a board member and investor in Blu Homes.
In a recent Los Angeles Times article profiling the Joshua Tree home and the company’s expansion into Southern California, Disney provided some insight as to what makes Blu Homes stand out from the rest of the prefab pack. “The ceiling height is substantially higher, and there are a lot of windows, so it feels large, bright and airy. The Blu homes are relatively small, but the ceiling height changes one's perception of space,” says Disney. He elaborates on the home’s modest size: “There are all sorts of sociological studies that show people don't feel comfortable in big open spaces. Seriously, it's more rational to live in manageable spaces — less distance to walk from room to room, less cleaning, less energy. It just makes more sense."
Another biggie is something that I’ve discussed in detail in the past: Blu’s patented steel framing system and innovative folding technology that allows or a dramatically quicker, more efficient, and cheaper factory-to-site process. And on that note, Blu Homes recently opened its first California factory in Vallejo.
Lots more — photos, too — on Tim Disney’s dramatic, three-bedroom desert retreat and on Blu Homes expansion into SoCal over at the L.A. Times. And if you happen to be in or around Joshua Tree this coming weekend, you can register for a private tour of the home here.