Vancouver architect Tony Robins develops prefabricated home system

Vancouver architect Tony Robins has launched his own 20,000-square-foot factory to produce the buildings he designs. Centering the construction process within a factory, Preform Construction – the company Robins has formed with partners Marc Isaac and Ryan Spong – is making sound logistic, economic, and green sense. The latest four large houses that Robins has designed are on island properties where it can cost at least 50% more to build due to additional costs such as accommodating trades in hotels, and shipping concrete on ferries, among other things.


The prefab houses are split into modules of up to 60 feet long and shipped by truck or barge, then assembled on site. They come finished right down to the drywall being painted, and the light fixtures and appliances already in place. “The prefabrication model has proven itself elsewhere, but I haven’t seen anyone shipping the final product so completely like this,” says Robins.


The company’s first venture, shipping a “Living Unit” comprising a single module to the BC Home Show, proved there needn’t be a drywall crack in sight. And it took the team two months from design sketch to delivery, one month after opening the facility. For a large house, the normal construction time will be cut in half. Whilst the modules are being put together on their steel frames, the foundations are being formed. It is also cheaper by an estimated 15% for a local siting, due to factory efficiencies.


“The millworkers walk across the floor to site measure, rather than making a day trip up the coast or into town.” The 500-sqaure-foot one-bedroom module is green and smart, with R50 blown insulation in the walls, a green roof, grey-water use for the toilet cistern, and an instantaneous hot water heater (above the bathroom) for the taps and in-floor heating. The temperature of the module can also be changed remotely from any computer. It also feels surprisingly spacious, due to its 10-foot ceilings and the clever use of light and space.


Whilst the unit clearly lends itself to installation on a recreational property, the soon-to-be-legal Vancouver laneway housing is an obvious future market.


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