Latina Architect Makes Prefab a Dream Come True

Rocio Romero’s contemporary prefab LV kits (especially once the finished house is plunked down on a perfectly scenic piece of land) are a modern architecture aficionado’s dream come true.

Born in California and of Chilean decent, Romero is a Berkeley grad with a degree in environmental design and a master’s degree in architecture.  Her work has been on display in national and international museums, including the Walker Art Center, MOCA, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Triennale di Milano.

She says her business started with the design of her parent’s vacation home in Laguna Verde, Chile in 1999; i.e. the name LV Designs. 

“The project was over-budget and I realized that there must be a way to do things better.  I’d studied prefab, and I recognized it would have been a more efficient and cost effective way of doing their house—as they say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’,” she says.

By 2002, Romero’s business became official. She also took more control of the process and began to have her prefab kits manufactured in a factory near to her home in Perryville, Missouri. That gave the young architect more control over every aspect of her product.  LV homes are not completely constructed in a factory and simply plopped down. The kit is assembled on site, in the same way as a stick built house is—allowing her houses to qualify as new construction and, therefore, for a traditional mortgage.

Romero’s prefab houses are a niche business, attracting both high-end and middle of the road folks looking for a solution to getting a quality, sophisticated, and contemporary house while staying within a budget. But it’s her exquisite design acumen that sets her business apart from others.  Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize architecture critic of The New Yorker, has said of Romero, “Romero’s designs stand out for their clarity, simplicity, and grace.”

The cost of the kits themselves and the building of the house can vary a great deal. There’s the initial cost of a piece of property, the kits range in size and price from $6,900-39,500 and the cost of building by square foot ranges between $175-$275.

Romero’s professor, Hector Pérez, from her days in architecture school at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), says “She was an early arrival to this process. I admire how she’s embraced the movement. She’s come up with a very refined product.”

Pérez goes on to explain that the real selling point of modern prefab is the building time it saves on a new house and the aesthetic without the design fees.

Romero suggests the house look out onto a wonderful landscape. 

“They’re meant to be connected to, and integrated with nature. They’re an open design with lots of large windows and doors. So it would make more sense for this type of design if the house weren’t looking out onto a freeway for example,” Romero says.   

Being a woman of Chilean decent, Romero says her culture has played a role in her designs because she’s sensitive to a Latin way of living—celebrating family and joy. “In Chile, modern architecture has been very popular for a long time. When I was little I was exposed to it, this aesthetic has been part of the mainstream for a long time. Minimalism is in my heart,” she says.

This year is a return to the old days of bang-up business for Romero. So far, 11 of her modern style houses have sold. 

Rebekah Sager is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif.

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Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.