The L41: A Tiny, Energy-Efficient Prefab Home

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The L41 home lives large with tons of built-in storage and dual-function designs.
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A full-size kitchen is key to making the L41 feel like a larger home.

Though his homes are small, Michael Katz’s goals are big. “The major objective of the L41 home is to play a part in mass-producing houses that are so affordable that, before the end of this century, all the people in the world can have proper shelter,” says the Vancouver, British Columbia-based architect. “Affordability, mass production, quality, high design and sustainability is the L41 home manifesto.”

Katz uses assembly-line technology to create delightful, energy-efficient homes that most prospective homeowners can afford. Based on a 220-square-foot studio module, the expandable, stackable units are also available as a 290-square-foot one-bedroom unit or a 360-square-foot two-bedroom unit, and can stand alone or be stacked and combined into almost limitless combinations for multi- family dwellings. Artist Janet Corne co-designed the homes with Katz to ensure a design that’s “delightful, livable, even downright luxurious,” Katz says.

Katz plans to have the units on the market this summer. Though prices are being finalized, he says studio models will cost less than $60,000.

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The Good Stuff

• The L41 generates and stores solar electricity on-site through photovoltaic and solar thermal heating and cooling cells on its green roof.

• The home’s main construction material, cross-laminated timber, is made by laminating and gluing beetle-kill pine (literally pine trees killed by beetles) under high pressure into panels strong enough to substitute for concrete. Katz says in British Columbia alone, more than 35 billion cubic feet of beetle-kill trees–enough to build 100 million L41 units–are available.

• The exterior is made of durable, waterproof zinc panels. Zinc requires less energy to produce than most other metals, and it’s often made with recycled material.

• The front porch connects to the home via a three-panel sliding-glass wall that retracts into an outdoor storage closet.

• When possible (based on location), geothermal heating and cooling systems will keep homes comfortable year-round.

• Radiant coils in the ceiling provide heat. A heat-recovery ventilator keeps air fresh and improves efficiency.

• The kitchen includes a two-element induction cooktop with a slide-out mini overhead fan, a convection oven that doubles as a microwave, a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer tucked below the counter, and an Asko washer/dryer single unit.

• A one-person work space features a quartz countertop with storage shelves above.

• In the studio version, the living room sofa converts to a double bed. A window screen blocks light and doubles as a projector screen.

• The bathroom has a dual-flush toilet, floor drain and handheld shower that stretches for easy cleaning.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368