Our house is “prefabricated” by Deck House, Inc. of Acton, Massachusetts and built in 1981 by a local contractor. At least seven thousand Deck Houses have been built in the country, most of them on the East Coast.
After World War II, architects, industrialists, and consumers were interested in employing mass production to build better, more economical homes. In 1959, Deck House was founded by architects William J. Berkes and Robert Brownell, both of whom previously had experience with Carl Koch’s early prefab corporation Techbuilt. Berkes observed that houses in the Northeast often were built into hills and reconfigured the single-family house into a then-radical split-level design to take advantage of this.
The bottom floor of a typical Deck House has bedrooms for children and an exit onto the lower part of the hill so that they could run out into the yard to play at will.
Eliminating the attic upstairs allows the living areas and adult master bedroom, both located upstairs, to have soaring cathedral ceilings. I’ve always thought that low ceilings produce low spirits, so this works for me.
Deck Houses are not constructed in the factory and hauled to the site, but rather are kits of parts hauled to the site and erected there. Construction eschews the typical American balloon frame for post and beam, allowing the interior to be freely configurable and permitting walls to open up to large glass windows and open floor plans. The most distinctive aspect of the house, however, and the reason why it is called a “Deck House” is the 3” thick tongue and groove structural cedar decking under the roof and supporting the upper floor. The rear deck is also 3” thick structural cedar, albeit not tongue and groove.
There are at least seven Deck Houses on Highland Avenue in Montclair, built between the 1970s and 1980s. We bought this house in 2011 and have extensively restored it, painstakingly removing solid stain from the mahogany siding, as well as modernizing the kitchen and bathrooms.