Taking Cover Under A Modern and Affordable Shelter

by Jack Sommer

The home architectural design world is not immune to digital disruption. Cover is a new startup company that offers inexpensive yet beautiful home designs, construction documents, and manufacturing cost options - all for $250. This is a fraction of the tens of thousands of dollars and the many months that a traditional architectural firm may take for such work.

Now, being that it's so much dramatically cheaper, you might be thinking the designs must be awful cookie cutter boxes. However, Cover's team comes from a luxury building design background and are experts in pre-fab homes and computational software design, so they are able to customize each home - which usually are one to two bedroom units.

So how do they do it then? To start a project, you answer 50-100 questions about your lifestyle and living patterns to provide information to make the build bespoke. They might ask about what appliances are must-haves or question about view requirements. Your answers build the base floor plan, in combination with Cover's own algorithmic software and other data inputs - such as the sun's path on site location to determine window placements or ratio of solid to opaque surfaces that affect temperature and light, to maximize energy efficiency.

Cover separates itself from other prefab companies by bringing their sophisticated customization abilities into their floor plans, which usually only custom-build contractors can do. Another difference is the level of precision their manufacturing techniques offer, with software used from the aerospace and car design industry, to create the perfectly sized building materials that snap together like Lego bricks. Not only does this reduce cost, but it makes the physical construction easier too. Finally, the biggest unique point of difference from other prefab companies is that these building parts are waterproofed and embedded with electrical wiring and plumbing.

The Cover process is not only affordable, it's fast. The design stage takes about three days, the permitting and site survey takes between two and five months, and construction takes 12 weeks. In as little as five months, you can get your Cover unit. But, it's only available in LA (for now).

*Originally covered by Fast Company.