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About a decade ago, Rane Wardwell and Jan Pratschke bonded over one thing: how short the construction window was where their projects were taking place in Invermere, British Columbia. Feeling frustrated, they found they shared a desire to make ground even when the weather wasn’t cooperating.
Wardwell founded Collective Carpentry in 2006, and Pratschke joined the team in 2013 with the spark of a new premise. Instead of solely focusing on traditional construction projects, they began exploring prefab design. Things started small, with the pair mostly using software to create panels for energy-efficient projects in their area. Over time, these prefab panels—which include wood, insulation, and weather-tight membranes—grew more complex, and recently, Wardwell and Pratschke purchased two fabrication facilities to meet growing demand.
Since, they founded Collective Homes, which builds complete prefab residences and ADUs. The duo has used the business to experiment with designs while delivering customizable homes without the constraints of long lead times—or the foul-weather delays that trip up traditional construction. Here, Pratschke and Wardwell share what they see as a better way to build.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve realized to date?
The first Collective Home was built in Bozeman, Montana, in 2022 with Eesome Builders, and the next few are currently in design and will be put up in 2024.
The amount of direct interaction we had with the clients on the Bozeman project was really rewarding because we accompanied them through their choice of design and modifications to suit their needs. We also had several post-occupancy interviews and filming opportunities. Our favorite thing to hear Andrea, one of the owners, say in a short film we produced about the build was "they just have it so dialed in." Their favorite thing about the high-performance building assembly is that they feel comfortable in the home without having to turn on the heat.
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What does your base model cost and what does that pricing include?
There are three base models and a total of eight standard variations available on our website, and in collaboration with local builders wherever clients are in North America. Collective Homes are designed in-house and optimized for the Collective Carpentry building system, a feedback loop of prefab optimization learned from 10 years of experience in design, fabrication, delivery, and assembly.
The cost is dependent on several choices, as well as the location of where the home will be located. All Collective Home packages include several amenities, including 20 complimentary design hours for minor modifications and a one-year warranty on all materials and labor provided by Collective Carpentry.
For a project within roughly 650 miles of Collective’s shop, prices range from about $170,000 to $185,000 for a 1,200-square-foot model, $225,000 to $245,000 for a 1,500-square-foot model, and around $280,000 for a 1,800-square-foot model. [All figures are in USD]. This includes design, panels, parts, windows, doors, and installation. For the full construction budget, clients can work with a general contractor in their area to assess costs for the foundation, services, and finishes, which are all installed on site by local trades. The homes' total budgets range from around $400,000 to $600,000. Buyers do have the option of purchasing additional design modifications, including adding a garage or an ADU.
What qualities make your prefab stand apart from the rest?
We think Collective Homes are suitable for homeowners who don’t want to spend the time or money on a custom home process, but who still want the quality of a high-performance home that’s often only available to custom-home buyers.
Collective Homes are modest in design, size, and cost when compared to other prefabs. We have sought to keep costs low by using in-house design resources as opposed to partnering with high-end architects. We are a small company, so the process is managed by a team heavily invested in the company’s success, and clients benefit from working with individuals who are passionate about what we do. We install our prefab work, so you get to meet us on site. And we still do many things by hand, so there is warmth felt in the craft and quality that comes with a Collective Home.
Where is the prefab currently available?
We are licensed and registered in seven U.S. states and three Canadian provinces: Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. But, we can ship to other states depending on the number of homes.
Is your design currently pre-permitted in any U.S. municipalities?
We have pre-permitted designs available through a close collaborator, Artisans Group, from Puget Sound, Washington—these are small 600-square-foot ADUs. The Collective Home designs are not pre-permitted.
Are there plans to expand to different parts of the country and the world?
Yes, we would eventually like to offer these homes across North America, but there are no plans for world domination yet.
How long can a client expect the process to take after they put down a deposit?
The process typically takes about six months to complete, from deposit to delivery. It can take longer, though, if custom design modifications are significant.
What aspects of an install do you manage?
We do not manage permitting or site work. Once the slab or main-level floor is installed, we begin our own installation of exterior wall panels, and later finish with roof panels and windows and doors. The roof and siding are done by a local builder, as is all of the interior finishing, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.
What aspects of the design can a client customize?
The client can customize everything for a price, but we recommend they only make changes to the locations of interior walls and the finishes of windows and doors—anything that will not impact the shape and size of the overall structure. However, we do have clients who make bigger changes, it just lengthens the process. One last thing to note: Finishes are chosen with the local builder and do not go through Collective.
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