Prefabricated homes or “prefab” homes are constructed in a factory before being transported and put together on the dwelling site. Prefabrication involves modular construction to manufacture these parts and ship them to the site of assemblage.
Prefab homes are also referred to as modular homes or panelized homes. Prefabrication is more convenient than standard housing in many ways. Assembling pre-manufactured parts cuts down on the extra costs and construction time. Builders are less likely to encounter weather issues and the production of the parts increases the efficiency of construction and customizes the final product. Prefabs save time, money, labour and ensures a high-quality result. Prefab houses also vary in design and may be customized to the homeowner’s needs.
The first known prefabricated building was said to be a castle being moved as a type of ‘kit’ as early as 1160. The 16th century brought about the invention of prefabricated homes in India and prefab homes became popular in the US in the early 1900s also due to abundance of timber. House kits became sought after in the United States and companies like Sears, Roebuck and Co. and The Aladdin Company made it possible for the middle-class to build homes. Prefab homes provided housing for veterans returning from World War II thus increasing sales and usage until the US government issued the HUD code for standard housing regulation in 1976.
Assembling certain prefab homes is as easy as placing the completed sections together once they are transported to the site of construction. Assemblage is usually conducted by professionals and the home remains static after it is assembled on the site. Make sure that you understand your customized dwelling and the quality of the specific structure before you invest in it. Many prefabs are designed to handle natural disasters and technological advances have made it possible for prefabricated homes to survive in various terrains and climates. It is still important to understand the environment of your site to ensure that you will have the correct type of foundation for your dwelling. Prefab foundation parts vary from stilts to floating slabs and steel grade beams. Some prefabs may require ‘pinning’ the foundation to the ground and other modular homes residing in areas with high seismic activity will need stabilizing pilings. Disaster-proof prefabs differ greatly depending on the needs of the homeowner and the environment, therefore it is important to understand the specific parts needed for your site. The construction of the parts may take a few weeks but your prefabricated house could be assembled in as little as three days.
There are some concerns when it comes to prefab sites. Firstly, the homeowner must own the land where the house will be assembled and the site must be in a zone that allows manufactured housing. The neighbourhood may also have specific requirements and your prefab might not fit into this aesthetic. It is of utmost importance to check the regulations and requirements of your desired site before buying land and designing your home. There are some stigmas around prefabs due to trailer parks and other issues with taxation. Suss out the area before investing in it – the best prefabs reside on a well-chosen site.
Prefabricated houses are less restricting than regular housing, allowing the homeowner to customize their home with different features offered by the manufacturer. Not only do you save money on materials and labour but construction time is cut down from months to weeks. Inspections are conducted at the factories, ensuring quality parts for assemblage and if your prefab is designed to be disaster-proof then the lifespan of your home is increased significantly. There are some issues with prefabricated homes. For example, the more you modify your home, the more expensive it becomes. Some key systems may not be included in the initial quote and you may end up paying for extra plumbing and electrical work. Certain prefabrication offers may be limited to areas that are easily accessible and your desired site may not be optimal for assemblage – depending on the manufacturer. It is safe to say that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages when it comes to prefabricated houses. Finding a legal and accessible site and spending more time on planning your home is certainly worth how much you will be saving as well as gaining a resilient and personalised modular home.
A manufactured home requires as much maintenance as a standard house. One needs to level the house every year, check the gutter system to protect the roof and foundation from water damage, check for any peeling and cracking and caulk around the vents, doors and windows of the house. The roof must be coated annually and checked for broken shingles. Vinyl must be cleaned with bleach or other detergents to combat mildew and the frame must be analyzed for any damage that could lead to corrosion. These areas can be treated with zinc chromate. Vents and filters must be cleaned regularly and vinyl wallcoverings can be cleaned with regular detergent. Maintaining a prefab won’t cost more than the maintenance of a regular home and the cost of the house itself averages at $200 per square foot. Prices will vary depending on the type of prefab home you want but you could easily pay between $100 000 and $200 000 for large eco-friendly modular home.
A building plan for prefabrication involves a lot of discussion with the manufacturer and significant preparation of the site. Builders must be paid beforehand which may require a special construction loan. Pre-cut kits can be pieced together by the homeowner whereas modular homes and panelized homes need professional construction assistance. After selecting the right type of manufactured home, the next step is to ensure that you qualify for a mortgage loan for modular housing. Once that is complete, it’s time to find the correct site and purchase your land. You will need to find a prefabrication manufacturer as well as a general contractor who will assist you with the site for your home. Once your building permits are secured you can start planning and scheduling accordingly. After the site’s interior fixtures are installed, the last step is to have your prefab delivered and assembled.
Many homeowners are leaning towards prefabs as a greener housing option. Whether your prefab house is a kit, a panelized prefab or a little hobbit home, you will need to be adequately prepared and plan your modular home for efficient prefabrication.