Prefabricated Luxury Homes
Vallejo-based Blu Homes is bringing modern luxury to prefabricated housing.
Prefabricated homes—or prefabs—are more likely to conjure up images of ramshackle mobile homes than residential paradises. But Blu Homes is changing that. Founded in 2008—in the middle of the housing crisis, no less—the company set out to radically revamp how our luxury homes are Built. Its solution? Prefabs.
Produced in factories—including one on Mare Island in Vallejo—then shipped in modules to the build site, Blu Homes dazzle with a bold, ultramodern aesthetic that’s undergirded by first-rate craftsmanship: Think reinforced steel or timber beams and durable Andersen 400 Series windows.
“If we wouldn’t want to live in them, we wouldn’t build them,” says Blu Homes’ cofounder Maura McCarthy. “These aren’t your granny’s prefabs.” And none of Blu Homes’ offerings exemplifies that better than its bestselling line, the Breeze house.
What draws people to this particular model? Perhaps it’s the spacious rooms and soaring ceilings, or the dramatic “butterfly” roofline that directs natural light into the living room. Or maybe it’s the windows (and there are a lot of windows) that make an already airy interior feel that much more open—sometimes literally, as showcased by the signature “Breezespace.”
The iconic breezeway, which features sliding glass walls on each end that span 16 feet, opens up to seamlessly connect the indoor living space to the expansive outdoor patios. It’s the perfect way to bring the natural beauty of California into your home—and to give your house party that extra panache.
“[The Breeze house is] more fun and enjoyable to live in,” says McCarthy. “It feels sexy. It’s like driving a Tesla in that way.”
Blu Is the New Green
The comparison to Tesla is an apt one in terms of more than just style. Blu Homes are among the most environmentally friendly houses on the market. Cutting-edge features include advanced thermal insulation that keeps the Breeze house cozy even during the chilliest winters; energy-efficient electronics, such as LED lightbulbs and zoned heating and cooling; and eco-friendly water fixtures like low-flow faucets that can save up to 50,000 gallons each year.
Just how sustainable is the Breeze house? A good way to measure a residence’s environmental impact is to look at its Home Energy Rating System score. A standard home built today has a baseline score of 100; a higher score indicates a less efficient house while a lower score means your home is doing the environment—and your wallet—some good. (The majority of existing homes have an average score of 130, or 30 percent less efficient than a new home.) Most Blu Homes, including the Breeze house, rate a 60 on the index, or 40 percent more efficient than a standard new home.
That’s before adding solar panels to the equation, which can reduce the score to a big, fat zero. In fact, the company plans that all future Blu Homes will achieve what is called net-zero status by 2018, coming out to annual savings of thousands of dollars for homeowners—plus the satisfaction that comes with helping out Mother Nature.
The Perks of Prefabs
Being green isn’t the only perk of Blu Homes. Because the houses are made in a factory, the company can simultaneously work on laying the foundation at the build site. That dramatically expedites the building process, and avoids complications that often hamstring construction, like weather and permitting. Once the house is ready, it’s shipped by truck to the site, where cranes then fit the pieces together in a single day. As a result, your new Blu Home can be ready to move into in 24 weeks or less, compared to an average construction time of two years for traditional homes.
And although they’re prefabs, Blu Homes offer customizable options. This individualization suits the variety of Blu Homes clientele, which even includes an Omani princess. Design the modern home of your dreams; build the kitchen that will be the envy of your neighborhood; fashion a spa experience for your master bathroom. You can even modify the number of all those windows to your liking. This might not be cheap—a Breeze house starts at $600,000—but you can rest assured that your Blu Home will be uniquely yours.
“This house shows visually, almost viscerally, that this is a luxury product,” says McCarthy. “When you walk in, it’s something you can see and feel. It’s way beyond a traditional home, and it’s way cooler. We would put it up against any house.” bluhomes.com.
In addition to the Breeze house, Blu Homes offers 15 other models to wow your neighbors. Here are three that stand out:
The three-bedroom, three to 3.5–bathroom Solaire is a two-story wonder that boasts the most natural lighting for a two-story home on a narrow lot. Its thin yet spacious design is ideal for crowded urban or suburban settings. Starting at $650,000.
Inspired by California’s pioneering past, the quaint three to four-bedroom, three to 3.5–bathroom Modern Farmhouse transports you to a simpler, more rustic time—while still providing cutting-edge comforts and innovations. Starting at $500,000.
Blu Homes’ smallest model, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom Cabana brings an elegant flair to tiny homes. Make it an in-law unit for guests or to rent out, or embrace your creative spark and create the perfect art studio. Starting at $150,000.
Open House Visit Blu Homes’ Model Home Village in Vallejo on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to tour the Breeze house and other models. Tours can also be scheduled Wednesday through Friday by appointment.