The Van Tamelen House, Wright’s first prefab building for Erdman’s company, attracted the attention of the New York Times (December 21, 1956) and House and Home (December 1956), bringing orders for nine more. Here, he used horizontal boards and battens made of Masonite and redwood. Ribbon and corner awning windows pivot outward to light the interior.
Erdman’s factory prefabricated the exterior and interior wall panels in eight-foot sections and manufactured precut floors, roof trusses, cabinets, and woodwork. Excluded from the package were the materials needed for the foundation, fireplace, and mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems. In the end, the high cost of the site work, which included the installation of windows, wood trim, and interior walls, along with the cost of the prefab package, $20,000, and Wright’s substantial design fee, brought the total expense close to that of a normal custom-built home, thus limiting the popularity of the Erdman houses.