Home & Design | April 6, 2017 9:00 am

You Can Now Design Your Own Prefab House for $250

No architects required (sort of)

If this is the architectural version of the singularity, we can live with it. 

Let’s take two different problems one might encounter when building a home. Well, an “accessory dwelling unit,” if you can stomach the phrase. (“Essentially cottages, which range in size from one-room studios to two-bedroom houses.”) 

1: Prefab home designs are limited, and customization costs plenty extra if you want to accommodate personal preferences or ambitions. 

2: Fully customized homes — i.e., something made in consultation with an architect — will absolutely take into account, say, your desire for windows that only face south. (U-shaped house, anyone?) But it costs big bucks. 

Cover aims to be the bowl in the middle of this Goldilocks-ian dilemma.

Cover is an app that will run you through a series of up to 100 questions and spit out your new home. According to FastCo, “It asks about lifestyle — how many people typically cook a meal and what appliances are must-haves? — and structural needs, like ‘Should they optimize one view and block another one?’”

A Cover architect will visit the site; additional information (like zoning laws and other site-specific details) is similarly fed into the algorithm. Press a button and, more or less, out comes a custom building plan. The $250 fee does come with a big asterisk: the permitting process, which follows design, can go as high as $20K, and obviously manufacturing your home and constructing it will cost significantly more. But it’s still a cost-effective solution for someone looking for something more comprehensive than the typical prefab deal.