SANTA ROSA (KPIX) - It's been 17 months since the Tubbs fire devastated entire neighborhoods around Santa Rosa. Now the rebuilding has begun, but some fire victims are choosing a construction method that promises to get them home sooner.
"It came right over the top…right over that ridge, all the way into town," said George Nostrant about the Tubbs Fire that consumed his home in the hills northeast of Santa Rosa.
He knew he wanted to rebuild but said there was one thing at the top of his wish list, "NOT spending 3 or 4 years of my life building."
So, Nostrant turned to a company called Hybrid Prefab Homes in Santa Rosa. They customize predesigned floor plans, build them in modules in a factory and deliver them to the site.
Nostrant's new 3,000 square foot home arrived in 4 pieces, with cabinets and fixtures already installed. Finish work is almost complete and he expects to be in the home in just a few months.
"If you know what you want or know what you had and want to replicate it, it makes it pretty easy," said Nostrant.
The company's Managing Partner, Marchin Radomski, says besides costing about 20% less than traditional construction, prefab houses offer something that appeals especially to traumatized fire victims: the chance to put the disaster behind them quickly and get on with life.
"Most of them are actually living on their properties so every day they look outside and they see what's not there anymore," said Radomski. "And they really, really want to get back to whatever that home may be."
George says of the 100 homes that burned in his area, only 30 are being rebuilt. The rest of the victims have left. But he's staying because he doesn't want to give up the amazing vista of Sonoma Valley from just beyond his back deck.
"I wish I had more live trees around but the view is still great, so we're happy."
Radomski says prefab homes average about 8 to 14 months to build compared with 2 years in the traditional method. And he says there is another reason why speed is important. Many fire victims are facing a 2-year time limit for insurance claims to be paid.
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