When Chris Krager, AIA, started ma modular, he envisioned building prefab houses across the United States. “We developed ma as a way to do what we do locally elsewhere,” says the Austin, Texas–based founder of the design/build firm KRDB. That was in 2007; since then, he’s adjusted his expectations. While Krager still plans an eventual national expansion, for now his focus with ma modular is on building a controlled number of prefab houses in central Texas, and building them well. “I realized I’d have to be patient with this process,” he says. “We developed a business model that was smaller, and then we can roll it out bigger.”

2011 proved a good year for ma modular. The company completed four prefab homes, working with two different factories. Krager has been able to hold the homes’ average prices to $150 to $160 per square foot, and for him that’s a key point. “A lot of the [prefab] stuff that’s out there—people love it, but they can’t afford it,” he says. “To me, that’s the potential in modular housing.” He concentrates on designing modules that are easy for factories to build and repeat, using familiar, time-tested materials and techniques.

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architect: KRDB, Austin, Texas

in the prefab business since: 2007

prefab homes completed: 6

prefab method: Modular

average construction cost: $135 to $200 per square foot (includes design fee)