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In Los Angeles, discussions around accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, can be more common than the weather—after all, everyone knows what to expect from the climate here. One company turning all that talk into action is Cover, a prefab builder making clean-lined units that property owners can add to their empty backyards.
"The founders, Alexis and Jemuel, met in architecture school and saw a clear problem: Traditional homebuilding was costly, time consuming, and unpredictable," says Alden Kramer, a business development specialist at the brand. "At Cover, we’re reimagining the entire homebuilding process from the ground up. We’re using software to streamline the design, engineering, and permitting process, and we’re building homes on a production line more like how cars are made."
Cover’s prefabs are built using a panelized system, which allows the company to complete a build in nine months or less, permits and drawings included, they say. "Think of it as life-size Lego blocks that form the floors, walls, windows, and roofs of a home," Kramer says. "These panels arrive from our factory waterproofed, insulated, structurally sound, and pre-equipped for plumbing and electrical connections. The home can be assembled on-site in about a month, without the need for a crane, and with the precision and quality that’s normally only found in ultra-high-end construction."
Here, Cover shares what to expect when hiring them for a backyard build in Los Angeles.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve realized to date?
One of our favorite projects is a backyard home we built in Brentwood to bring a family closer together. Amid the pandemic, Claudia Buchanan and her family sought a living arrangement that would provide both togetherness and independence for her mother, Alice. Opting for our prefabricated accessory dwelling unit, the family was drawn to our emphasis on flexible, speedy, and sustainable design.
Their Cover backyard home features two bedrooms and one bathroom alongside an open kitchen, living, and dining area. There are expansive windows that connect to a deck where Alice and her family enjoy their coffee together each morning. While the ADU provides privacy, the family still enjoys close interactions, making the most of their new living space.
What does your base model cost and what does that pricing include?
We recently launched two fixed floor plans, the Cover S1 and S2. The first is a 580-square-foot, one-bed one-bath unit that starts at $369,000. That price includes architectural and engineering drawings, permitting, site work, utility hookups, case-by-case demolition, and of course, the manufacturing and installation of the Cover.
Before we sign a contract with our clients, we lock in the pricing up front. You can expect the Cover to be move-in ready, complete with an HVAC and ERV system, built-in appliances, built-in storage, floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors, a walk-in shower, and more features.
What qualities make your prefab stand apart from the rest?
Our panelized building system means we can build in backyards where cranes just wouldn’t work. All we need is four feet of access space.
We also have the kind of design detailing you’d normally only find in ultra-high-end homes. For example, all of our windows and sliders are truly floor-to-ceiling, meaning they have minimalist frames and are flush with the floor, wall, and ceiling.
Is your design currently pre-permitted in any U.S. municipalities?
We are currently in the process of getting pre-approved plans in Los Angeles.
Are there plans to expand to different parts of the country or the world?
We’re only serving Los Angeles at this point in time, but we do plan on expanding to serve other regions soon. Our approach at Cover has always been to do a few things extraordinarily well. That means that while we do have global ambitions, we’re incredibly focused to start, and are currently only delivering designs in Los Angeles.
How long can a client expect the process to take after they put down a deposit?
Customers can expect to wait six to nine months for a Cover S model. This is subject to change based on the number of available units we have at any given time. After permitting is complete, our team is on-site for two months: one for the foundation and another to install the Cover.
What aspects of the design can a client customize?
The Cover S models come with fixed, premium finishes and appliances. This enables us to deliver them faster and at a reduced price point. Our Cover Custom offers incredible flexibility, particularly in regard to layout. Our panelized system allows us to create thousands of custom configurations.
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