With its traditional post and beam construction, the barnlike home two blocks from East Hampton's Main Street looks like it's been there for decades.
In fact, the 3,500-square-foot home wasn't even built on the property. It was constructed in a factory in Grantham, N.H., and then delivered to the lot on Toilsome Road in 2010. Called Laurel Hollow, the house by developer Yankee Barn Homes was featured along with 49 other traditional and ultramodern structures in the recently published "Prefabulous World: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Homes Around the Globe" (Abrams, $35).
FACTORY-BUILT: Connecticut-based author Sheri Koones, an expert on prefabrication, aimed to show how homes built in a factory can look just as beautiful and magazine cover-worthy as traditionally constructed homes -- but without the Dumpster out front piled high with debris.
Koones lives in an energy efficient home she built 14 years ago on North Street in Greenwich, Conn., a major backcountry road dotted with large mansions. It was built with lots of sustainable materials, including reclaimed wood, bamboo floors and energy efficient lighting.
"Had I known what I know today, I definitely would have done a prefab house," Koones says. "A lot of the factories that are building prefab today are taking energy efficiency much more seriously."
Take the building process for Laurel Hollow. Fabricating the panels in a factory means that significantly fewer materials are wasted than in traditional construction and excess materials, which are locally sourced, are recycled instead of thrown out, explains designer Jeffrey Rosen, the creative director at Yankee Barn Homes, which has been in business since 1969.
After the lot is cleared and the foundation is readied, the panels are shipped to the building site and the home is typically up in seven to 10 days, so materials are not compromised by being exposed to the elements.
"The home goes up similar to a barn raising: timber structure first, then infill panels and windows," Rosen says. "We are building a number of houses in places like Martha's Vineyard, where the house can be trucked over easily, up and enclosed quickly, shortening the build times tremendously."
Yankee Barn Homes uses wall and roof panels containing a rigid foam insulation with a high R-value, a measure of insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it. Laurel Hollow also has a high-efficiency natural gas boiler and hot water radiant heat in the basement floor to lower heat use, among other energy saving elements, and was constructed using Sustainable Forestry Initiative-certified lumber and paints with zero volatile organic compounds.
EFFICIENCY AND STYLE: The home doesn't sacrifice style, however. The 2½-story living room has reclaimed yellow pine wide-plank floors, and the lighting fixtures are made of antique Swedish tin farming buckets hung upside down. The countertops in the cook's kitchen are made of eco-friendly quartz, which complement the stainless steel Energy Star-rated appliances.
Yankee Barn Homes offers an in-house design department that can design from something they currently build, work on a new design or work with a client's architect.
"While we were traditionally locked into a specific architectural look, we have expanded our abilities to create any architectural style one can dream of," Rosen says. "We offer traditional barn-style architecture to shingle-style homes to flat-roofed moderns."
Other homes featured in the hardcover book include a prefabricated timber frame and panelized house in Bavaria, Germany, which sits on a cliff below an ancient castle, and a house on Dangar Island in Australia, which had to be shipped by boat.
"Prefabulous World" includes a foreword by actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, who writes about the efforts that countries around the world have taken to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. "Although much of the work I have done has been focused in North America, environmental threats know no boundaries, and all countries must work to reverse the results of global warming and halt the decimation of our land in the name of energy," Redford writes.
Koones, who has also published "Modular Mansions" and "Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid," among other home and style books, wasn't able to visit all 50 homes in the book, though she was easily able to travel to East Hampton and was wowed by Laurel Hollow's classic beauty.
"Today, modular companies tell me they can build almost anything," Koones says. "I thought the builders, and the architects and homeowners could learn a lot from this."