Factory-built homes back in vogue

Many buyers attracted by energy savings, beauty, convenience

Remember the tight, cute "kit" cottage you saw at the annual Home Show (one of five clustered in the featured vacation-home area) that would fit just perfectly on the wooded lot you've always wanted in the mountains? It seems that builders and manufacturers always are urging consumers to dream -- whether it be a stately primary residence or a precut timber home composed of hand-milled Montana logs trucked directly to your site. More and more dream homes have gone inside -- at least for all or part of the construction phase -- as curious consumers research and locate the new creative designs, energy-efficient features, often lower costs and environmentally controlled production of prefabricated residences. And, the finished product absolutely demolishes the preconceived notion of a "kit." Modular, manufactured, structural insulated panels and other types of "prefab" housing are reaching a growing segment of new-home buyers yet they are very different in the way they are bu...