Features & Essays

Pre-Fabulous

A luxury prefabricated home makes for a modern mountain getaway.

YOU MIGHT SAY THE BURGESSES’ NEW HOME TOOK THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED.

When it was Colorado bound, being hauled from southern California in a convoy of six flatbed trucks, it ran into a literal roadblock.  Roadwork had closed off the planned route, so the house had to be rerouted.

     “It was unseasonably warm last November, and Colorado Department of Transportation decided it was going to cram a few more projects in,” says Brandon Weiss, the man in charge of this parade. “It was not on our radar when we checked the shipping logistics. We had to overnight the trucks until we could coordinate it.”

     Rerouting the house only put it a day behind schedule—which is nothing compared to the delays and cost overruns that traditional construction encounters on a routine basis.

     In fact, the house’s nontraditional nature—its construction is prefabricated—is part of the appeal.

Like all prefabs, this mountain house isn’t your typical structure. It was built assembly-line style in pieces in a factory and then shipped to the construction site to be assembled. In most cases, these factory-built homes arrive nearly complete. With a dearth of skilled trades people in Colorado and nationwide as well as a focus on efficiency, prefab homes are growing in popularity with people like Jay Burgess.

Burgess and his family live in NoCo. Last year, they began looking for a Winter Park parcel on which to build their second home, a weekend retreat and homebase for their many recreational interests. His daughters are Nordic racers, they have four dogs and the whole crew loves both summer and winter sports. They found the perfect site just outside of Tabernash—with easy access to trails and unencumbered views of the Continental Divide—to match their lifestyle wants.

They just needed the house.

“I didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to find a local contractor and coming up with a design,” Burgess says. “You hear so many nightmares about projects never staying in a budget or getting done on time and all that. So I researched styles [of prefab homes], and we liked the European and Scandinavian style. That’s how we found Dvele.”

Dvele, a California-based luxury modular homebuilder, is hoping to revolutionize prefabricated homes.

They offer eight different floor plans and seven design packages, which allow homebuyers to select different colors and materials to apply to their floor plans. From built-in ubiquitous wifi to circuit-by-circuit energy monitoring, Dvele homes are built for tech-savvy, green-minded, connected homebuyers. Sensors in the wall monitor moisture and condensation and collect data so dwellers can track their energy consumption. Every home is built to Dvele’s standards for health and efficiency, often with benchmarks stricter than LEED and green building certifications.

No, these are not the prefab homes of the 1970s.

“The technology is life enhancement and quality of life on one side, but it’s also quality of building,” says Weiss, who is Dvele’s chief innovation officer. “We use the data to learn what we can do to improve that building and future buildings.”

The Burgess home was not a standard project for Dvele. Burgess wanted bells and whistles: a walk-out basement, garage, deck and sports room. They also moved the house from its original platting to take advantage of the views.

“One of the things specifically about this project was taking advantage of the location,” Weiss says. “We looked at the slope of the land and determined that there was a spot that would open up the back of the house to that view of the Continental Divide, and they wouldn’t see the neighbors on either side.”

With a simple, clean interior design and countless floor-to-ceiling windows, the natural beauty surrounding the home lures the eye from inside out. It’s a view that “doesn’t get old,” Burgess says. Those windows—and the privacy and peace just beyond them—are what the Burgesses love the most.

“Our privacy is amazing,” Burgess says. “We rarely run across anyone. We both own our businesses. We interact with people all week long. It’s nice to go up into the mountains and sit on your deck and just not see anything or hear anything.”

Burgess was there when the trucks arrived from their journey. He watched as his mountain retreat was assembled like a giant set of Legos, a crane stacking the massive blocks on top of the foundation under a bluebird Colorado sky.

Nearly a year later, there are no hints of the home’s trek from factory to mountain valley. Its seams have been patched, and the pieces of house have become one.

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