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Seattle-designed prefab backyard cottage runs completely on solar power

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The goal is an environmentally friendly, reliable build that costs less than conventional construction

Stone Solar Studio’s living room.
Andrew Pogue/Courtesy of Node and Wittman Estes

Prefab—or prefabricated—homes can be an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to buying a new home built onsite. And sometimes, these modern houses can be super gorgeous.

Seattle-based prefab company Node specializes in modern, sustainable, space-efficient floorplans, including a series of modules that could become studios, backyard cottages, or a primary home. This brand-new concept is designed specifically as a detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU)—the technical term for a backyard cottage—and runs completely on solar power.

The one-bedroom cottage is 670 square feet, and includes one bedroom and a three-quarter bathroom designed with low-flow fixtures. The kitchen—along one wall of an open living room—is compact, but equipped, with a cooktop, wall oven, and dishwasher.

The plan was first realized by Wittman Estes Architecture, the firm that designed Node’s earlier modular homes, for West Seattle homeowner Karen Stone, who wanted a rental unit in her yard (it’s currently a vacation rental). The home, dubbed “Stone Solar Studio,” is the first DADU in Seattle with zero-energy certification from the International Living Futures Institute.

Architect Matt Wittman of Wittman Estes says that “a system of components, the entire home can be shipped almost anywhere and assembled in days.”

The lower-cost nature of a prefab home is especially pertinent, as restrictions around accessory dwelling units could be about to loosen up. Revisions to the city’s laws governing ADUs passed city council committee earlier this month, with a likely vote from the full city council soon.

The company didn’t provide a price point for this ADU—its the first built of its newer Trillium series—but fully-featured homes in its Madrona series could run up to $150,000 when we covered it. Node also assists with permitting and utility needs.

Locally-sourced cedar planks have been treated with the shou sugi ban technique—a Japanese wood-preservation method that involves charring—for a maintenance exterior.
The home’s entry and dining room, with light brought in by floor-to-ceiling windows.
A compact kitchen includes custom carbon steel shelving designed by Wittman Estes.
Solar panels line the entire roof to gather enough power for the entire place.
The floorplan also includes a craft room and storage.