Lake|Flato Architects’ status as a relative newcomer to prefab carries significant benefits. By entering the prefab world later than many of its peers, the well-established San Antonio firm was able to learn from others’ experiences before building its first modular home. Starting in 2009, the firm researched the history of prefabricated housing and talked to many of the industry’s current practitioners. “For the most part, the people involved in doing prefab housing are a very generous, information-sharing group,” says principal Ted Flato, FAIA, who heads up Lake|Flato’s prefab initiative along with associate Bill Aylor, AIA.
In September 2011, the firm launched its Lake|Flato Porch House, which consists of factory-built modular rooms connected by site-built elements such as porches, breezeways, carports, and terraces. “We’ve always been about connecting to the landscape,” Flato says. “These are houses as we’ve always designed them—they’re just done in a more efficient manner.” By limiting material, detail, and floor plan choices, Lake|Flato has kept the average cost of the Porch House to $150 to $225 per square foot. (The project won the top prize in the 2011 Builder’s Choice Awards, run by residential architect’s sister magazine, BUILDER.)
The firm has built two Porch Houses so far, both in Texas. Several more are in the works.
architect: Lake|Flato Architects, San Antonio
in the prefab business since: 2011
prefab homes completed: 2
prefab method: Modular
average construction cost: $150 to $225 per square foot