During the bidding process of a recent potential new project, I visited the distributor of BLU Homes. You may have seen them on the same DIY show “This New House” where Brian Butler’s (Owner, BGB) house was featured. Seeing this product first hand is quite impressive. Not only do these homes fold up to be shipped in boxes, but more importantly, when they are put back together on site they are completely thermally broken, resulting in an extremely high performance home. When we were originally asked to be involved with a prefab house project I was skeptical, as my past experiences with Pre-fabricated homes have revealed a number of issues and flaws, but BLU Homes changed my opinion.
How do they do it? The sub-structure of the building is a steel frame with joints every 8′ or so where heavy duty hinges are welded on so that the full size house can then be folded like origami for transport. The roof structure is completed with the use of thermally broken SIPs with an R-value of R-38. Walls are then filled with Ecobatt insulation between light gauge metal studs, which are encased by two 1” layers of rigid insulation that wrap all vertical surfaces, giving the walls a total R-value of R-28. This is similar to how our DERs (Deep Energy Retrofits) enhance existing buildings’ envelopes, increasing their energy efficiency while decreasing the costs associated with heating and cooling. As you can see from some of the photos I took while walking the floor of the factory, once the layers of rigid insulation are applied, strapping is attached to create a drainage plain for moisture to be vented behind the siding. Pre-finished fiber-cement clapboard comes standard to clad the sidewall and Drexel standing seam metal panels shed water off of the horizontal plains of the units. Light pours though Therma-Tru fiberglass doors and Anderson 400 series casement windows. You can check Blu’s website for interior finish options.
Aside from being a highly performing home built in a controlled environment with local labor and materials, the really awesome part is that once the boxes are shipped on site, these units will be COMPLETED in 5-7 days! This is a really cool product, so when thinking outside the box, think of the home that folds up in the box.
On a side note, Blu Home’s manufacturing plant is located in the Western part of the state just outside the town of Springfield. While driving down to view the units in production, I was caught off guard while driving down 291 when I was able to see the down town of Springfield trying to pick up the pieces after mother nature’s wrath. Let’s not forget about these people affected just because we are 72 miles away in Boston. If you want to help please visit this link:
Or you can contribute $10 by sending a text to 90999 with REDCROSS in the message. The donation will be added to your cell phone bill.