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Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Caption from LIFE. $5,000. Tired of competing for campsites on weekends, John and Janet Smith finally built a vacation house on the Pend Orielle River near Spokane, Wash. From a magazine they ordered a $25 set of plans by Architect Robert Martin Engelbrecht of Princeton, N.J., then made adapatations—exposed beams and wood instead of plasterboard, a larger kitchen. By picking up bargains—such as hand-split shingles at half price—and doing the work themselves, the Smiths wound up with a handsome $12,800 house for only $5,000.John Dominis—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Prefab Vacation homes from 1970
Caption from LIFE. $5,000. Tired of competing for campsites on weekends, John and Janet Smith finally built a vacation h
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John Dominis—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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These Vintage Prefab Vacation Homes Will Make You Long for the Woods

Jul 14, 2015

Prefabricated homes are on the rise. Thanks to the recession and an increased interest in green building techniques, easy-to-assemble structures of all shapes and sizes appeal not only to those looking to save a buck, but also to those who prioritize the use of eco-friendly materials and creative design.

But this is not the first time the out-of-the-box house, first offered in the early 20th century by companies like Sears, has enjoyed a boost in popularity. Back in 1970, when an increasing number of Americans were looking to build vacation homes, prefab structures offered an affordable way to take the American dream to the next level. LIFE’s John Dominis traveled around the country photographing the range of styles cropping up in forests and lake shores, from a bird-watching hideaway in North Carolina to a geodesic dome in the desert of Arizona.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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