For some people, the idea of prefab homes gives the impression of something you might live in because you have to, not because you choose to. Or, they’re lumped in with mobile homes in a sort of sub-home category. But are prefabs about to have their day? They are if Amazon has anything to say about it.
The company has made its first investment in a homebuilder, partially funding startup Plant Prefab through its Alexa Fund—which has typically been used for injecting money into voice tech—in a move that Architectural Digest called “game-changing.”
Indeed, Business Insider, among others, mused that this is the latest step in Amazon’s plan to “integrate Alexa into a home before it is even built and delivered to customers.” In a statement made by Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund, he said, "We're thrilled to support [Plant Prefab] as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers."
It's a new market “for Amazon and the Alexa Fund,” said CNBC. “The investment comes less than a week after Amazon launched more than a dozen Alexa-powered smart home devices, including a microwave oven and an amplifier that can be controlled by the Alexa voice assistant.”
So who is Plant Prefab?
Based in the Southern California city of Rialto, the company is known for its sustainable construction processes and materials, which they say have allowed them to build prefabricated homes in both their home state and in Utah 50 percent faster and with a savings of up to 25 percent.
“Plant Prefab has been designing prefab homes since 2016, when it was spun off of architectural and property development firm Living Homes,” said Fast Company. “It offers a series of ‘standard’ designs developed by big design names like Ray Kappe and Yves Béhar, as well as custom builds.
As for what the Amazon-funded homes may look like, well…we’ll have to refer back to the Plant Prefab site, where you can check out both their standard homes and custom designs, for now.
If you want to get a look at what some other modern prefab homes looks like—especially those that are helping revolutionize the genre and provide homebuyers with a viable, stylish, more affordable, and oftentimes more sustainable alternative to traditional homebuilding techniques, you can see some great examples here and here.
Written by Jaymi Naciri