Gone are the days when homes are built brick by brick. Today, many real estate companies are offering homeowners cost-efficient methods of building a home. That includes buying a prefabricated home – a specialist dwelling option wherein the home components are manufactured in standard sections off-site in advance and then transported to the building site for construction. 

From its humble beginnings in the early 20th century, prefab homes have had a rich long history and continue to provide cost-efficient and sustainable housing. Many households all over the world, especially in the US and in Australia, are choosing prefab homes over standard homes not only for lower cost and shorter construction time but also for their style. 

Prefabricated homes come in all shapes and sizes. Before buying and building a prefab home, it’s important to know the different types and choose the best one for your lifestyle.

1. Modular Homes 

As its term suggests, modular homes are comprised of one or more “modules.” With modular building, the dwelling is constructed in separate box-like modules that are then secured together to form a whole house. 

The modules are built in a factory and then transported separately on flat-bed trucks to the building site where the actual construction takes place. Each module is fully-outfitted with interior fittings, including plumbing, doors, closets, stairs, and electrical fixtures, making the assembly a little faster and easier. 

  • Construction time: Building a modular home usually takes roughly three to four months. There are little finishing touches needed. 

  • Size and aesthetics: Modular homes traditionally have a sleek, modern boxy look. Modules are built in squares or rectangles, then stacked or assembled on site according to predetermined building plans. Today, many manufacturers are stepping up their game by combining modular builds with panelized walls or roofing that modifies the boxy appearance into almost any home style.

2. Panelized Homes

A panelized home also called “open wall package”, is another popular type of prefabricated home. While modular homes are composed of box-like modules, panelized homes are composed of panels. 

Panelized homes are made up of three major components: engineered floor system, interior and exterior walls, and the roof trusses. Each panel, like a whole wall, for example, is transported to the building site which will then be constructed into a dwelling. Panel building is completed by laying down the floor and lowering each wall panel into place one at a time. 

Unlike modular homes that are outfitted, panelized homes require more finishing work on site, including painting, and installing stairs, flooring, and cabinetry. 

  • Construction Time: The estimated build time of panelized homes is three to five months. Compared to a modular building, on-site build time is longer in panel building. It would take a week to assemble the panels on site, and an additional month to complete the interior work. 

  • Size and aesthetics: Since the homes are built in panels, they can be made on-site in a wide range of styles with fewer limitations. Unlike modules, which are often less than 16-foot wide, panel building allows for wide open spaces and high ceilings.

3. Kit Homes (Pre-Cut Homes)

Kit homes, also called “pre-cut” or “ready-cut” houses, are cut to design specs in a factory, and then shipped as a kit to the site for construction. The parts, including lumber and framing materials, are already numbered and cut to fit its specific place in the house, thus reducing the need for measuring and cutting. 

Kit homes are often designed for enthusiastic homebuyers who want to get their hands dirty and build their homes on-site by themselves. Kit home companies in Australia, for example, encourage “owner building” wherein the “owner builders” use the parts, materials, and instructions provided by the kit home manufacturer to construct their own home. Kit homes are comparable to an IKEA furniture, which allow the homebuyer to build his/her home either alone or with the aid of a general contractor. 

  • Construction time: Build time ranges depending on whether the homebuyer does the work alone or with the help of a contractor. A minimum of five months is the average building time, although it could be longer. 

  • Size and aesthetics: The size and look vary depending on the type of kit you choose. Most kit homes look like log cabin homes, and once they’re built, they are indistinguishable in quality and appearance from homes built using traditional methods. 

4. Shipping Container Homes

Now that we’re done talking about shipping homes from a factory to the building site, let’s talk about actually living in a shipping container.

The name says it all – these funky homes are made literally from industrial steel shipping containers. Container homes are pretty much like modular homes, which are box-like and can be stacked and pieced together like Legos. Aside from converting it into tiny, stylish homes, shipping containers make great offices and quirky eateries too.

Shipping containers, however, are not generally designed for residential use. If you love the look and feel of container homes, better check out a few modular manufacturers who have redesigned shipping containers specifically for residential and commercial use. 

Today, innovative architects and designers continue to change the way people look at this factory-built housing by offering designs anyone can configure, customize, and call their own. 

Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a daytime writer for PAAL Kit Homes, a renowned construction company that specializes in manufacturing and supplying top-quality steel-framed kit homes in Australia. She loves writing articles focused in real estate and interior design.

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