Michelle Kaufmann's new mkHearth is a semi-prefab house that evokes old-timey barns and vacation-destination chalets. Like all of Kaufmann's celebrity-architect-branded housing products, the mkHearth is a panelized, earth-friendly building that essentially costs the same as similar (if less sophisticated) custom-built homes, but due to efficiencies in transportation and manufacture, saves time (and ergo, money) from contract to construction and completion.
For most of Kaufmann's designs, the real cost savings come when developers build a passel of the same house in proximity, and pass the savings on to the end-user. So the game-changer with the mkHearth is the design: If you associate slanted roofs, walls of glass, and HardiePanel siding with 7-11s and urban elites, then you'll love the mkHearth. A traditional farmhouse style on the outside, with a modern emphasis on light and space on the inside–plus all the requisite green bells and whistles–it's something a suburban or rural developer, and his or her buyers, can feel good about.