A number of prefabricators appeared during the thirties and enjoyed a flurry of attention in the years just after World War II, largely due to the severe housing shortage and liberal government subsidies for research and development. They emulated the automobile industry's methods of production and marketing. Even though prefabrication never replaced conventional home-building, standardized building materials and assembly line methods became the norm after the war.
The government conducted a great deal of research in prefabrication techniques, some of these quite innovative. The first large scale application of those techniques were in mass housing projects for World War II conscript houses and barracks in war production sites and military bases. William Levitt's assignment laying out some of these barrack communities would prove useful to him after the war.
"In the past 5 weeks, I have met with more than 30 groups from industry, labor, veterans, and Government. I have listened closely to their recommendation; and I have examined the principal available data.
Two sobering facts emerge from this study in bold relief. First, there is an urgent need for some 3,000,000 moderately and low priced homes and apartments during the next 2 years. Second, we can meet this need only by bringing to bear the same daring, determined and hard hitting team work with which we tackled the emergency job of building the world's most powerful war machine 4 years ago.