Custom Prefabrication: Urban Sensation

 Architect Brett Zamore, principal of Houston-based Brett Zamore Design, customized a modular/prefabricated plan to create a three-story modern manufactured home.

Prefab custom home with sculpture stairway

A sculptural stair provides separation between the living and kitchen/dining spaces without compromising natural light or sight lines (Photo: Max B Photo).

December 16, 2021

Project: Haines Kit 04 
Architect: Brett Zamore Design, Houston
Builder / Client: Zachary Haines, Color Houses, Houston

Sited on a 50-by-100-foot lot near downtown Houston, this home is a kit of parts, the design customized to suit the needs of a young family. Architect Brett Zamore, principal of Houston-based Brett Zamore Design, worked with the client—a builder, who used the prefab project to hone his own professional skills—to customize a modular plan to create a three-story modern home steeped in the Southern vernacular. The entire structure was prefabricated, from the framing package to the window and door systems. 

Exterior of prefab custom homeThe 4-by-8-foot pop-out that signifies the entry also provides space for a main-floor half-bath (Photo: Hawkeye Photo).

“Our houses look completely custom, with singular design qualities, designed to fit within historic as well as modern neighborhoods, or rural sites out in the Hill Country,” Zamore says. “The unique move in this project involves opening to the street while allowing for privacy by placing indoor-outdoor living on the second floor.” He adds, “There’s also a little bow back to the street with the asymmetrical gable-end overhang.” 

Prefab custom home with accordion glass door divides balcony from interior  A full-width accordion door allows the compact living room to extend onto the recessed balcony (Photo:Hawkeye Photo).

Just below the protected balcony, a garage faces the street, with a recessed side entry signaled by a second-floor pop-out. Behind the garage, separated by the foyer leading directly to the stairwell, is a private en suite guest room. Public spaces are located on the second floor and connect to the balcony via a glass accordion door, while the top floor has three bedrooms, two baths, and a laundry. 

Prefab custom home kitchenThe owner/builder eliminated a peninsula from the original kitchen design, instead filling the U-shaped space with custom cabinets (Photos: Max B Photo). 

For Zamore, key benefits of prefab are that it offers home­owners a more affordable option for working with an architect on a custom home, and it’s a green process, decreasing construction waste because designs are based on standard lumber sizes, and reducing a building’s carbon footprint if you work with factories close to the jobsite. 


When designing projects for more distant locales, the firm prepares detailed plans and specifications to prefab standards, minimizing the potential for miscommunication during manufacturing, Zamore says, while using stock material sizes means even substantial modifications to base plans don’t really cause scheduling delays. “We modify plans to fit site constraints or client needs, or we combine separate modules linked with a corridor,” he says. “Working within these standards reduces our time considerably, so more people can access an architect-designed house.”

Shelley D. Hutchins writes about residential construction, design, and sustainable building.

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