Though prefab houses have started to increase in popularity, the concept is certainly not a new one. Sears & Roebuck, through it's Modern Home program, sold mail order homes for over thirty years at the start of the 20th century. And though Sears was the most popular home seller at this time, other companies such as Aladdin in Bay City, Michigan also made their mark. Central Michigan University has an online archive of these home catalogs for those curious. And these Flickr albums include not only Aladdin catalogs, but also Sears Home catalogs and many others for your perusal. Finally, if you think that you might live in a Sears home or you've seen one in your neighborhood, here are a few tips for successfully spotting them (Previous Prefab Posts).
Shipping containers could be 'dream' homes for thousands. Yes, the design isn't great. They should have a contest for a version that would keep the cost the same. Esthetics don't have to be expensive.
Building with the Intermodal Steel Building Unit: It's cheaper for overseas shippers to dump the containers in the United States rather than return them to their place of origin. Tampa Armature Works with St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services Inc. have started recycling them into affordable, hurricane-resistant housing in St. Petersburg, Florida. Bob Vila was there to document it (flash video). Previously on MetaFilter, a brief history of the steel boxes.
How to use your prosthesis (quicktime). Ed Van Den Brouck hosts the first in our "how to use your prosthesis" series. apologies to Julian? Also cool architecture.
BoKlok: Flat-packed boxes + alan wrench = home! With these relatively attractive six-plexes, Ikea seems to have made a reality of Le Corbusier's dream of mass-produced housing.
The Modern Modular. Resolution: 4 Architecture is redefining prefab housing with its thoroughly modern-looking modular designs. Their premier design just won the Dwell Home competition sponsored by Dwell Magazine. Nice profile in today's WSJ.
Aladdin Houses. I was told when I bought my house it was one of these, but this is the first time I've run across information about the company. These were houses built from a kit, like the Sears Houses that more people seem familiar with. This site has lots of old catalogs scanned in -- as near as I can figure out, this one is mine. I can attest to the fact that they hold up pretty well. You can still buy prefab homes of course, but they lack the ye-olde excitement of age.