Real Estate

First look: A prefab home designed by computer algorithms


It looks like the MacBook of prefab homes

In the spring, LA-based startup Cover captured the imaginations of prefab home fans with the promise of sleek, efficient backyard dwellings designed by computer algorithms. Lest you thought that was too far-fetched, the company has just now unveiled its first installed design.

The completed unit, clocking in at 320 square feet, was designed as a music studio and office for an Oscar-nominated sound editor. Just like early renderings indicated, the dwelling looks like a simple white box, belying the more intricate technology that went into the design process.

Cover, which employees not only architects and designers but also software and manufacturing engineers, starts each design with a survey of 50 to 100 questions for the customer, whose specific preferences, needs, and logistic restraints are then fed into proprietary algorithms to generate custom floor plans within three days.

“We focus on the quality of the spaces and the little details—like the way light reflects off surfaces, how a door handle feels or the framing of the view,” said Cover co-founder and CEO Alexis Rivas in a press release.



In this unit, those details include seamless built-in storage, as well as faceplate-less outlets and light switches that blend into the home. The company is also calling their glass walls “true floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors” because they forgo frames and rollers.

Designed to meet Passive House standards for energy efficiency, the unit features an air-tight envelope and radiant heating and cooling. According to Cover, the steel structure is 27 percent recycled and 100 percent recyclable.

Though this first design is a tiny studio, Cover’s technology can also accommodate one- and two-bedroom units with full kitchens and bathrooms. This unit cost around $110,000 for the homeowner, in line with previously reported price estimates of about $70,000 for a guest room, $130,000 for a studio with a kitchenette, $160,000 for a one-bedroom unit, and $250,000 for a two-bedroom unit.



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