Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve streamlined and optimized the building process, allowing us to provide a level of efficiency, quality, and predictability that’s almost impossible to achieve with on-site construction.
Speed: When building on-site, vertical construction can’t begin until the foundation is completely finished. Plant builds in parallel with site work, in an all-weather facility, shaving months off the construction timeline. Many additional efficiencies are achieved through our patented Plant Building System™, which uses advanced digital modeling to create precise shop drawings, material lists, and other deliverables that on-site builders create through manual and iterative processes. We also have the ability to complete inspections and 90% of the finish work right in our factory, drastically reducing delays and labor hours. Your project can be finished faster with Plant.
Quality: Plant’s factory production processes and material standards provide a level of quality assurance more akin to manufacturing than construction. We start by creating a complete digital model of your project, which our engineers use to plan and coordinate all structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing elements (ensuring no surprises or workarounds in production). We use this virtual model to produce a detailed bill of materials (ensuring no delays or sub-optimal substitutions), precise shop drawings (ensuring that the project is built correctly and efficiently), and even material cut lists for utmost accuracy and efficiency. In production, our highly-trained staff follow exhaustive quality control protocols, which include repeat inspections to ensure that all work meets our strict workmanship standards. The components built in our factory must satisfy all local code requirements and as well as stringent state-level factory-built housing code, and be independently inspected and approved by a state-certified agency. Such precise engineering, strict process rigor, and multi-level verification is unheard of in site-based construction.
Cost control: Site-based construction is known for ballooning costs due to the many factors that are out of your control throughout the lengthy building process. Weather, subcontractors, mistakes, damaged materials, inspections, and vandalism can cause significant time and cost overruns. With Plant, most of these liabilities are eliminated altogether; our factory production processes provide much less uncertainty. By controlling more of the process we are able to provide far better cost control and predictability.
Learn more about specific benefits for architects and developers.
Yes. Our flexible Plant Building System™ enables us to prefabricate almost any design, in any style of architecture, for any climate zone.
If you hire us as your architect, we’ll tailor your design to your specific local climate and code requirements. If you bring us plans from another architect, we'll build to their exact specifications. In either case, you'll benefit from the quality of our Plant Building System, which produces strong, durable, airtight wall and roof assemblies, engineered to meet or exceed all local code requirements for snow load, thermal performance, and more.
Yes. We are a leader in fire-resilient design and construction.
Fire resiliency is determined by a number of factors, ranging from the site plan (creating a defensible space around the home), to the structural components of the home, to the materials used to build the home, and the building assembly itself. These factors, and many more, are determined by you, your architect, and project engineers based on your design goals and your area’s local code requirements. Plant will build your home using the framing, roofing, windows, doors, and siding materials specified by your architect.
You can hire your own architect or work with our in-house studio. As a California-based company, we have extensive experience designing and building homes in wildland urban interface (WUI) zones. Our knowledgeable team will guide you through the design process, advising you on the most fire-wise features and materials. Even if you work with an outside architect, you will benefit from the quality of our Plant Building System™, which produces strong, durable, airtight wall and roof assemblies for a tight building envelope that prevents embers from infiltrating the home—one of the most critical elements of fire resiliency.
Yes. All new construction, whether factory-built or site-built, must meet the same seismic code requirements defined by the local municipality where the project is being built. No permits are issued until a licensed structural engineer has reviewed and certified that the structure is engineered according to the specific municipality’s seismic code requirements. A local enforcement agency must also review and approve the plans for code compliance. Plant builds to these approved plans.
Generally, yes. If a foundation can be built on the lot, we can install prefabricated components on it. The bigger consideration for us is the accessibility of your property for the delivery of the prefabricated components (by truck) and installation of the components (by crane). We assess this for you as a part of our feasibility analysis.
In California and most other states, prefabricated homes have the same rights and legal protection as site-built homes. That is, they can be installed anywhere and cannot be excluded from a community because they were built in a factory. There is no title disclosure requirement for prefabricated homes, and the resale value of the homes we've built have been comparable to high-quality site-built homes.
Note: Cities can and frequently do make exclusions for manufactured/mobile homes, which follow entirely different (far less stringent) code requirements. See “Is a factory-built home the same as a manufactured/mobile home?”
Our current factories in Southern California allow us to serve Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Though we can technically ship anywhere, the further you are from our factories the more you’ll spend on transportation fees. For locations beyond about 500 miles from our factories we've found that we are only cost-competitive for high-end projects shipping to areas with very expensive local labor.
We will be building additional factories in the future that will allow us to serve more areas. Please join our email list to stay in the loop.
Process & Timeline
Your project timeline will depend on where you are in your homebuilding journey: Some clients come to us with finished plans and are ready to build, while other clients come to us with a dream and a napkin sketch. We love both!
For a detailed timeline, see our process explanations for:
No. Plant manages the production of all prefabricated components. A local general contractor will manage component transportation, installation, and applicable site work (like building a foundation and performing final finish work after installation).
If Plant is your architect, we will bid your project to three local general contractors to ensure that you receive an equitable deal from a reputable resource. If you are working with your own architect, they will typically support you with this process. We can make recommendations or referrals if needed. In all cases, we will coordinate closely with your general contractor and architect throughout your project.
Factory-built housing follows a bifurcated permitting process:
The portion of the project that's built on-site (like the foundation) is reviewed and permitted by the local enforcement agency. Same as it would be for a site-built project.
The portion of the project that's built in our factory (typically everything above the foundation) is reviewed and permitted by a state-approved Design Approval Agency.
Plant manages the permitting process for our factory work and your site general contractor manages the permitting process for their site work.
A state-certified agency comes to our factory to inspect each project and ensure that our work meets all applicable code requirements.
We don’t provide financing, but we can walk you through your financing options and refer you to a lender who is experienced in financing prefabricated construction projects.
Building with Plant can be financed the same way as a traditional (site-built) construction project: You can secure a construction-to-permanent loan (also known as a "rollover" loan) that starts as a basic construction loan and converts to a mortgage after the end of construction. Or, you can secure a construction-only loan that’s replaced by a mortgage once you receive your certificate of occupancy. In either case, your lender will disburse payments to Plant as the construction of your project progresses. Loans are typically issued for 65% - 70% of the expected appraised value of the home, or 80% - 100% of the construction cost.
Note: Plant builds much faster than a site-based contractor, so our payment disbursement schedule is shorter. Some banks are familiar and comfortable with this accelerated timeline; others less so. If you need help finding a lender who’s experienced in financing prefabricated construction projects, we are happy to make referrals.
Payments to Plant can be made the same way they would be paid to any contractor. Each Plant contract includes a payment schedule that defines when funds are due, and lenders typically perform an inspection with Plant prior to releasing funds.
Note: Plant builds much faster than a site-based contractor, so our payment disbursement schedule is shorter. Some banks are familiar and comfortable with this accelerated timeline; others less so. If you need help finding a lender who’s experienced in financing prefabricated construction projects, we are happy to make a referral.
Yes! We designed the first home to achieve LEED for Homes Platinum certification, and have since completed dozens more LEED Platinum and Gold-certified projects. Every one of our LivingHomes is designed to meet LEED for Homes Platinum and net-zero standards, and in 2021 we introduced three Passive House LivingHome designs. Suffice to say, sustainable design and construction is our passion, and we are thrilled to help you meet your health, sustainability, and carbon reduction goals!
Note that the LEED for Homes certification program is administered by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and Passive House certification is administered by Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) and Passive House International (PHI). These organizations charge fees for certification. We can discuss your options and help you decide which program is right for you.
Your health and wellbeing, and the health and wellbeing of our factory employees, is at the forefront of everything we do. From materials choices to construction methods, health and safety is our top priority.
When we first began designing homes, the best-available program was the LEED for Homes program, managed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). It’s a great program, but because it’s a point-based system that encompasses many different elements of a home’s design and construction, it doesn’t provide the level of focus we were seeking on health, specifically. So we developed an even more strict environmental health and sustainability program, called Z6, to guide our work. When you work with us to design your home, this is the program we follow.
Every LivingHome we design is a healthy, energy-efficient home with excellent indoor air quality that was built with minimal impact on the planet. Some key features include:
Zero VOC paints, stains, and sealants
Mold-resistant, noncombustible drywall
Vents that automatically expel mold-causing humidity
Ample natural daylight
Open floor plans for excellent cross-ventilation
Minimal ductwork to reduce dust and allergens
Spaces that bring the outdoors in
Learn more about our rigorous Z6 environmental health and sustainability program.
Yes! In fact, that’s why we founded Plant (see “What’s the relationship between Plant Prefab and LivingHomes?”). Our patented Plant Building System™ allows us to prefabricate just about any architectural style, from a Cape Cod to a futuristic-style dwelling like Luke Skywalker’s home in Tatooine. (We haven’t received that request yet, but it would be our greatest honor!)
If you’re working on a custom design that you’d like us to prefabricate, submit a project inquiry. And be sure to introduce your architect to us as early as possible in the design process, so we can help familiarize them with our Plant Building System.
Absolutely! We offer an ever-growing collection of LivingHomes, created by world-renowned architects and designers.
We’re one happy family! We founded a residential design studio called LivingHomes in 2006. A decade later we expanded the business into Plant Prefab, so we could build any style of custom home for any architect. The LivingHomes team became the Plant Design Studio, and “LivingHomes” became the name of our product: the custom homes we design, as well as our award-winning standard home designs.
No. Factory-built homes, site-built-homes, and manufactured/mobile homes all follow different code requirements:
Site-built homes follow code requirements set by the local municipality.
Mobile/manufactured homes follow HUD code. HUD code is far less stringent than most local codes for site-built homes.
Factory-built homes follow code requirements set at the state level. Plant adheres to California's strict Factory-Built Housing (FBH) code, which accounts for the fact that factory-built homes are transported by truck with heightened requirements for vibration and wind shear. FHB code is far more stringent than HUD code and often also exceeds local code requirements for site-built homes.
Building materials are different, too. Unfortunately, mobile/manufactured homes use inexpensive, inferior-quality building materials that are notoriously unhealthy and generally have staggeringly poor energy performance. Site-built homes can be built to any standard, but many commonly-used materials include formaldehyde, adhesives, retardants, and other chemicals that off-gas carcinogens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Plant vigilantly sources materials that minimize and/or avoid such health risks, and we meet or exceed California Title 24 building energy efficiency standards. Our rigorous sustainability program, Z6, ensures the health and safety of the people who inhabit our homes and the workers who build them. Our LivingHomes are also designed to meet net zero and LEED for Homes Platinum standards, ensuring excellent indoor air quality and energy performance for the life of the home.
Plant offers a number of distinct advantages that distinguish us from other prefabricated builders:
We build custom, architectural homes designed by any architect. Most prefab companies build standard homes that they design. As a client, you select one of their models and then choose from their list of finish options. You generally can’t customize the floor plans or elevations, or use different finishes or fixtures, and you certainly can’t bring in an entirely different design created by another architect. Plant’s factory and processes were specifically designed to efficiently prefabricate unique designs from outside architects, with full customization.
We do high-quality construction. Most prefabricators are focused on low-cost production of their standard models. Plant only builds custom, architectural homes. Our clients and their architects have high standards for quality fit and finish, and Plant’s operations were designed to meet these needs. We’ve been prefabricating custom, high-quality homes for some time now, and we’re proud to say that we’re doing it better than anyone else.
We do healthy, sustainable construction. Most builders don’t consider the carbon footprint of their building methods or the health impacts of their materials choices. On a traditional jobsite, 30-40% of materials are lost to waste. In a typical home, many building materials include formaldehyde, adhesives, retardants, and other chemicals that off-gas carcinogens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Health and sustainability is core DNA for Plant. Our rigorous Z6 standards ensure the health and safety of the people who inhabit our homes and the workers who build them. Our LivingHomes are built to meet net zero and LEED for Homes Platinum standards, ensuring excellent indoor air quality and energy performance for the life of the home. Learn more in “What makes Plant homes healthy?”
We have an ultra-efficient, patented building system. Most factories build with either modules or rudimentary panels that offer limited finish options. Plant developed and patented a new way to prefabricate homes utilizing a combination of modules and panels, customized for each specific project’s design and lot conditions. This Plant Building System utilizes our own, specialized Plant Panels and Plant Modules to ensure that every home we build is constructed in the most efficient way possible.
Yes! Our primary show home is in Santa Monica, CA, and we have an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) show home on display at our factory in Rialto, CA. We offer regular tours of both. Learn more and reserve a guided visit on our tours & events page.
We have an entire gallery of completed projects, and we also offer tours of our factory in Rialto, CA and our show home in Santa Monica, CA. Visit our tours & events page to learn more and request a tour.
No. Our building blocks are Plant Panels™ and Plant Modules™, specialized components that we designed and patented specifically for custom housing prefabrication. You can learn all about them on our Plant Building System™ page.