Homb, sweet Homb

Homb Elevation RearI must confess to a blatant bias against manufactured homes. I have my reasons. Rather, I have one certain 12-by-60 foot reason. When I was 9 years old, our family of eight squished inside one of those long, narrow, aluminum tubes like human toothpaste. It was a temporary thing. Builders were busily clearing out the matchstick walls and smoky rubble of our house.  My 5-year-old brother had discovered the power of fire the hard way.

Skylab Architecture rendering

One the plus side, I enjoyed near star status during show-and-tell when I presented three plastic statues of saints melted into practically miraculous configurations from the sheer intensity of the heat of the house fire. One geeky science girl inquired if the popcorn in our kitchen had popped. Excellent question. Alas, we’d had no kernels in our cupboards at that time, and were unwilling to set ablaze the house a second time to test her hypothesis.

Our temporary digs smelled like a combination of new car and old cats. Very old. As in, possibly deceased inside the walls. And as much as I love new vehicles and living felines, I did not care to reside in either. Ditto for any prefabricated home.

Last week, I changed my mind about living in a factory-made home (although I remain steadfast on the cars and cats issue) after getting a peek of a Homb.

Skylab Architecture of Portland and Method Homes manufacturers of Seattle teamed up to create  100-square-foot triangular modules that can be put together in different ways to create a unique building. The first Homb in Northeast Portland looks pretty darn interesting. Although I missed the formal tour, I saw some of the pie-shapes on delivery day while out on a walk, and have since shamelessly peeked through the windows on a few occasions. This is my job. I do not recommend this Peeping Tom approach to anyone especially as the house is now, or soon will be, occupied and I’m certain the new owners would not be happy to see noses pressed up against their living room windows even if you were to wave in a friendly manner and mutter something about press cards and media coverage.

The place looks very chic and angular in a super model sort of way. It consists of 28 triangular units that were delivered to the site and snapped together in place. OK, more complicated than “snapped together,” but you the idea. The cost is approximately $160 per square foot. There will soon be an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) out back for a grand total of 3,930 square feet. Writer Brian Libby, a frequent contributor to Oregon Home, interviewed architect Jeff Kovel of Skylab and wrote about it in 2010, and recently posted about the finished house on his personal website, Chatterbox.

My only complaint on this particular Homb is that it fits in the neighborhood like a triangular peg in a square hole. But after all the spanking new replica craftsmen and cottages going up in the area, it’s nice to see someone dare to be different.

It’s also nice to have my preconceived notions completely smacked down by the prefabricated.

Vivian McInerny is managing editor of Oregon Home.