What is a Prefab Home?
Prefab homes are gaining popularity. Those looking to save building costs by researching alternatives typically start by asking: what is a prefab home? Understanding how prefab homes work, including their advantages, limitations, and the available prefab home options, will help you determine if buying a prefab home is the right decision. This article will answer those specific questions and provide an overview of the considerations for buying a prefab home.
What are Prefabricated Timber Homes?
Prefab, which is just a shortened version of the word “prefabricated,” simply means that a home was manufactured off-site in separate sections and shipped to the final location for full assembly. There are two primary types of prefab homes: modular and kits. All modular homes are, by definition, prefab. However, all prefab homes are not necessarily modular. Modular homes are usually about 70% built when delivered to the home site and often use a light steel frame construction with cheaper building materials. Quality, high end prefabricated timber homes can be beautifully crafted and feature stunning designs.
There are several key differences between mobile homes (often called “trailer homes”) and prefab homes. As opposed to a trailer home, prefab homes are not completely assembled before delivery. Prefab homes also use an entirely different manufacturing process and significantly higher quality materials. High end prefab builders like Logangate Timber Homes actually use real lumber for an authentic look and feel. While trailer homes are constructed on a chassis for easy transportation, prefab homes are usually built on stronger foundations (including poured cement or block foundations), giving them much more stability and resilience to severe weather.
What is a High End Prefab Home?
Non-modular, high end prefab homes are typically made with higher quality materials and more reliable construction techniques. This greater attention to quality results in more durable, sustainable, customizable, longer-lasting and attractive homes. You can see examples of high end prefab homes built by Logangate here.
How do Prefab Homes Work?
Prefab homes are built at the manufacturer’s location and shipped in pre-assembled portions to the final home site. These portions, often called panels, are specially engineered to fit together easily and precisely. Before the building process even begins, the manufacturer should partner closely with you to assess your preferences, needs, budget and timeline.
Although some people with the proper tools and knowledge do opt to build prefab homes themselves, most buyers use a local general contractor or construction company to complete the assembly of their prefab home. A general contractor or similar resource will also be needed to help with projects like plumbing, electrical, and interior finishing. The typical time required for a complete prefab home build is approximately four to six months.
Because prefab homes are offered in standard kits, the manufacturing process for the entire house can be standardized without sacrificing quality. High-quality prefab homes will incorporate excellent materials and construction methods, like the renowned post and beam design. The post and beam construction method, used by Logangate Timber Homes, has been relied on for centuries due to its strength, stability and unique ability to showcase the natural beauty of timber.
Advantages of a High End Prefab Home
There are significant advantages to choosing a high end prefab home. Whether or not these advantages apply to you depends mostly on your specific tastes and overall budget. Five of the most widely applicable advantages are listed below:
- Prefab homes are often chosen because they are faster to construct and require less labor and materials than custom stick-built alternatives.
- Prefab homes can be less expensive than traditional homes. In comparison to the cost of building a high-end traditional home, which can easily be $400 per sq foot or more, high-end prefab homes can cost as little as $250 per sq foot. Additionally, prefab homes have little to no cost variance during their manufacturing and assembly. Because the material costs are predetermined and the homes are specifically designed for easy assembly, the total building costs can be precisely estimated and controlled. Lower building costs can allow homeowners to focus on getting a dream property that suits their needs.
- Depending on the manufacturer, high end prefab homes are often more sustainable and environmentally friendly than traditionally-built homes.
- Many manufacturers offer customizable options for their prefab homes, allowing you to personalize aspects of the home to your liking.
- Most prefab home manufacturers provide all the drafting services you will need. You will save thousands of dollars since you will not have to hire an architect.
- The strength and durability of high end prefab homes are often preferred in locations known for severe weather, or for hill-side locations that would make traditional building difficult.
Prefab Home Limitations
There are some limitations to what a prefab home can offer buyers; especially if budget is not a primary concern when building. Some important limitations to consider include the following:
- While prefab homes offer a significant range of flexibility and customizable options, traditional homes can truly be built with 100% custom specifications, tailored precisely to the homeowner’s preferences. These preferences can include unique architectural layouts, one-of-a-kind carpentry flourishes, or other special features that require the help of experienced designers and contractors.
- Traditional and Prefab homes have stronger resale value than modular homes as they are often the first option home buyers seek.
- Any quality of prefab homes will still require access to all of the same utilities required by traditionally built homes, including gas, electric, water (city or well), and things like a driveway and walkway, etc. The cost of adding these amenities and utilities will likely be higher in a rural setting.
When to Consider Buying a Prefab Home
With custom home building often entailing the long and costly process, many buyers are wondering: should I buy a prefab home?
Most prefab home buyers share some traits in common, including the strong preference to avoid long, stressful building timelines; a strict budget; a focus on sustainable living and the desire to live on a larger or more rural property that is less developed. Concerns about exceeding your budget are especially relevant now as the cost of building a custom home is the highest it has been in recent years.
Another key consideration for if now is the time to consider buying a prefab home is if you have purchased a piece of property and want to either replace the current dwelling unit or start from scratch. Prefab homes can be an easy way to accomplish either of those goals for your next move.