Middle Ground

Originally published in 
Adding less than $100,000 of improvements to an off-the-shelf prefab model resulted in a clean-cut structure at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada.
Modern prefab house in the Sierra Nevada mountains

All of Scott Palamar’s selections and customizations brought the total to $150,000 for the 640-square-foot home and surrounding land. “I feel like I struck on such a novel solution because I was able to afford a home tailored to my lifestyle,” he says.

Project 
Hybrid Home
Architect 

Impressed by the Rudolf M. Schindler house in West Hollywood and Craig Ellwood’s Case Study house, water feature choreographer and technology developer Scott Palamar wanted to build a minimalist prototype of his own. And despite his lack of architectural training, he jumped at the opportunity to experiment with a modular structure when he purchased a $5,000 parcel of land in the Eastern Sierra in 2004. “It was around the time prefab was undergoing a revival but was no longer pitched as an inexpensive option,” Palamar says. “Still, I felt it could be affordable if done the right way and I enjoyed the challenge of sticking to a limited budget.”

From Cavco Industries, Palamar ordered a $35,158 customized model with nine-foot ceilings, insulated walls, and double-glazed windows. Nicknamed the “hybrid home,” his new abode is a “happy medium between custom work and a prefab shell,” with value-added extras like a garage, an energy-saving water heater system of his own devising, and landscape design. “It’s an ongoing experiment,” says Palamar, “but that’s what I like about it.”

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