Simplicity and affordability can come in stylish, as well as small, packages. That's the concept around which Method Homes' and Balance Associates, Architects' latest series of prefab houses is designed. Dubbed S-M-L for "Small," "Medium," and "Large," the series of three prefab houses offers 540 square feet to 856 square feet of interior living space for $98,000 to $148,000. The pint-sized prefabs are intended to be used as cabins, studios, guest quarters, offices, or even as small primary residences.

Method and Balance Associates, both based in Seattle, previously partnered to create the Method Cabin. Unlike the Method Cabin, all three S-M-L houses arrive on the home site already 95 percent finished, according to Method co-founder Brian Abramson—and within three months of purchase. Each house in the series is constructed as a single complete module, rather instead of several modules that must be joined on site. After preparing a foundation and setting the S, M, or L house in place, "You just hook up utilities and move in," Abramson says.

Like the Method Cabin, the S-M-L series is designed as a modern getaway with a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces, says Tom Lenchek, AIA, principal of Balance Associates. Large sections of floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding or folding patio doors provide visual and physical access to the outdoors, and optional decks extend living space outside.

S-M-L series houses can be connected to electrical grids or fitted with photovoltaic panels to generate their own electricity. Each home is pre-plumbed and wired for photovoltaic and solar hot water systems, and Method is currently in talks with a modular photovoltaics manufacturer about a possible supplier partnership. Other green features include high R-value blown-in cellulose insulation or a cellulose/spray foam combination, custom FSC-certified maple cabinets, high-efficiency windows, rainscreen siding, standing-seam metal roofs, low-flow plumbing fixtures, vegetated roofs, and Energy Star lighting packages. Sustainable upgrades and options include an energy-monitoring system, FSC wood framing and decking, bamboo or FSC wood flooring, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Method is pursuing LEED for Homes ratings for each of the models.

"We're pretty excited about this series," Abramson says. "Especially right now, we think it's a good solution for people looking for small spaces for cabins, studios, or offices." Visit www.methodhomes.net for more details.