Is A Modular Home A Prefabricated Home? Everything You Need To Know

Once you’ve made the monumental decision to build your new home, the next step is reviewing the various building options available on the market. While examining the different building types, you might ask if a modular home is a prefabricated home.

We understand that choosing to build a modular home can be a daunting task if you’re unsure of what a modular home is and how it fits into the prefabricated housing world. This article will detail everything you need to know about prefab or modular homes.

What Exactly Is Prefabricated Construction?

Simply put, prefabricated homes are houses made of built-in panels or sections. Unlike traditional houses, prefabrication allows various housing elements to be fitted on site after being built in a workshop or factory.

Prefab housing revolutionized the housing industry because it allowed dependable homes to be built with less labor, time, and money. But how did this housing invention come about, and how are prefabricated or modular homes changing in the 21st century?

The History

Prefabricated housing utilizes building techniques that date back to the Mesopotamian civilization. Although prefab homes have been used globally throughout history, the first prefab home manufactured for the general population was the “Manning Portable Cottage” in 1930. This prefabricated cottage was made of numerous components and then shipped to its destination, where British immigrants would assemble it. 

Over the years, prefabricated homes have become more popular. The many different floor plans and styles met the budgetary needs of all classes. However, interest declined during the 1990s because the designs available did not match the needs of the changing housing market. These homes were considered standardized, and people wanted variety and a house that didn’t look like all the others. 

The Future

Fortunately, the 2000s brought a renewed interest to the prefabricated housing industry because of the advent and development of advanced robotics, BIM, 3D printing, and automation. These have been used in the  world’s tallest modular building, project De Zalmhaven, which will be the world’s tallest skyscraper, and the Philippines Clark International Airport Terminal. 

With the modern technology at the disposal of prefab construction developers, more people are turning to prefab housing for many reasons. Production deadlines are shortened, and costs are reduced by 20% to 50% because fewer resources are needed. Many believe that modular construction generates far less waste than traditional construction. By producing less waste, a building’s carbon footprint is reduced.

Moreover, when 3D printing technology is paired with prefab housing construction, fewer raw materials are required to produce structural components. Prefabricated houses are becoming more popular because they allow for a more efficient, streamlined integration of smart tools and systems. Modern technology enables prefab housing developers like Century Home Builders more freedom to create homes people want to own. 

Is a Modular Home a Prefabricated Home?

A modular home IS considered prefabricated. Still, it is not the only type available. 

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The main housing elements of a modular home or prefab home are built off-site and transported to a buyer’s location. Unlike stick-built homes, modular houses are always produced in warehouses or factories.

They are constructed indoors so that issues that often plague on-site home building (like the weather) don’t hamper the building process. This is why producing a modular home is faster and more cost-effective and why it’s a subset of the prefab housing category. 

modular homes are a type of prefabricated homes

What Are Three Types of Popular Prefabricated Homes?

We want to share a few of the different prefabricated homes below. Hopefully, our explanations will help you understand prefabricated housing options to decide which best suits your wants, needs, and preferences. 

Modular Home

A modular home is a type of house constructed out of pre-assembled modules. With a modular home design, completed rooms are configured together to create your desired floor plan. 

Modular homes come in various designs and floor plans and can be single-story or double-story. A real-world example of modular homes is shipping container homes built off-site in a factory.

Modular homes have become incredibly attractive in recent years because they offer tremendous adaptability. Homeowners can create unique designs, but they can also add or remove rooms at any time. This prefab home can also be incredibly energy efficient and wind-resistant, with many modular homes outperforming stick-built homes. 

When a modular home is built, it is constructed to meet local building codes, so you can often place a modular home on a residential lot within a town or city. Additionally, you won’t need to worry about zoning requirements. You will be able to obtain a construction loan for it easily. Depending on your state, you will also likely be able to get standard homeowners insurance. 

Manufactured Homes

A manufactured prefabricated home is similar to a modular home in that it is constructed entirely in a factory. Yet, unlike a modular home, a manufactured home is built and placed onto a semi-permanent or permanent chassis with wheels and a trailer hitch. Wheels are added to a manufactured home to transport it to a site, and often people choose to leave their manufactured home on wheels. 

A manufactured home usually has a steel frame, but sometimes wooden frames are used. Before 1976, manufactured homes were known as mobile homes, but they now adhere to strict building guidelines, and this term is no longer used. Manufactured homes often come in three sizes: single wide, double wide, and triple wide.

If you purchase a manufactured home and choose not to place it on a  solid foundation and remove the wheels, you will likely need to install side skirting around the base of your new home. This skirting will hide the wheels and help the home look more like a traditional house. 

Unlike modular housing, manufactured homes follow the Housing and Urban Development code for construction standards instead of local codes. This means construction workers often do additional work to a manufactured home to meet local code standards. 

Additionally, obtaining construction loans and housing insurance is more difficult if you want to build a manufactured home and place it on a residential lot. Manufactured homes are usually only allowed in specific areas because of zoning regulations. 

Panelized Homes and Home Kits

Panelized homes and house kits are prefab homes that usually include wall panels, a roof, and floor systems. These homes are built and assembled at a factory and delivered to a homeowner’s site. They are more cost-effective to ship than transporting entire modular units.

In recent years this type of home has become incredibly popular with DIY housing enthusiasts who want the experience of building their own house from a panelized home kit. With this type of prefab home, the foundation and flooring are laid first, and then each completed wall is lowered and installed. 

How Long Do Prefab Homes Take To Build?

Most prefabricated homes like panelized, modular, and manufactured can be constructed faster than traditional stick-built homes. A prefab home can be built within four to six months, half the time of conventional home construction. However, the timeline will depend on many different factors: 

  • Whether you use a standard or custom-designed home
  • How long it takes to prepare your build site for your prefab home
  • The size of your completed home
  • The time it takes to create a foundation or modules and panels
  • How long it takes to obtain the appropriate building permits

If you want a more in-depth look into how long it will likely take to build a modular home and have it move-in-ready, you will find the below information interesting:

  • Designing your modular home: Between one to 12 weeks.
  • Purchasing land and receiving building permits: Six to nine weeks.
  • Preparing your residential or farm plot: around one week. 
  • Building a foundation: Between three to four weeks. 
  • Building your home modules: Approximately one to two weeks.
  • Installing or setting up modules: Around four weeks. 

The best way you can keep the construction of your modular home on schedule is to use an experienced team from a company like Century Home Builders.

What Materials are Prefabricated Homes Made Of?

Now that you know how long prefabricated homes (modular homes in particular) take to build, you might wonder if their faster construction time means they are made with inferior materials.

You will likely be pleased to learn that prefabricated homes are usually made with premium quality materials. We will discuss the three major material choices for constructing a modular home: 

Wood

One of the most commonly chosen prefab home construction materials is wood. This material is best for temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent modular houses. There are many key benefits to a wood-framed prefab home:

  • Significantly lighter than steel and concrete: Wood is the most lightweight material you can choose to build your modular home. If you select a wood-framed prefab home, your builders will have an easier time assembling your home, which will make the process faster.  
  • Incredibly durable: Wood is one of the most durable construction materials. Your prefab home will last many years if you choose a wood frame. Additionally, if you’re planning to build a double-story house, you can now use wood because of the advancements in construction and housing technology and engineering. 
  • Recyclable, eco-friendly, and sustainable: Wood has lower toxicity levels and is more sustainable than steel and concrete. It is recyclable and, in some instances, reusable. Ultimately, building a wooden prefab home is better for the environment.
  • Provide better insulation: Wood provides better insulation than steel or concrete. The cellular structure of wood allows it to retain heat energy better, keeping your house warm. You benefit from reduced energy waste which means you pay less on energy bills. 

Concrete

Concrete prefab homes are not as popular because they are more restrictive. If you want to build this type of home, you will need to ensure you’re happy with where you want to live because a concrete prefab home is a permanent structure. 

Often these homes are reinforced with steel or fiber, so they are incredibly long-lasting if maintained. It’s usually more common to see prefab homes built with concrete and other materials like wood and steel. 

The most significant benefit of a concrete prefab home is that it’s solid. Concrete tiles and reinforced concrete walls ensure that your prefab residence can weather a nasty storm. However, concrete prefab homes can be more expensive and are often more labor-intensive because they take longer to sculpt and erect. 

Steel

Another popular prefab home material is steel or metal. If you want to build a large home with intricate detailing and shape work, you should consider constructing it out of metal or steel. Prefab homes made from steel tend to last a long time, and they have several benefits.

  • They are easy to take down and transport: It might not seem like it, but steel-framed prefabs are easy to take apart and transport to a new location. The frames on these homes are easily bolted and fitted together, so they are easy to take apart. If you like to change your living space often or want to add additions later, a steel-framed prefab home is likely the best choice.
  • Fire resistance: A big advantage of a steel prefab home is that it is noncombustible and fire-resistant. A steel-framed prefab home is often safer than a wooden-framed prefab home. If you ever experience a fire in a steel home, you’re likely to sustain minimal, easily-reparable damage. 
  • Steel is shapeable: Wooden and concrete prefab homes have advantages, but both material choices are not easily shaped. Steel is robust and versatile. You can use this material to construct attractive home designs like arches and rounded features. If you have decided on a custom-built prefab home, steel may be best for a truly unique home.

Do Prefab Homes Last As Long As Stick-Built Homes?

One of the most common questions people ask when debating between building a prefab home and a stick-built home is if a prefab home lasts as long. It will largely depend on the quality of the materials and workmanship used in its construction, location, and design. 

However, most prefab homes last as long as stick-built homes, with some lasting even longer. The average lifespan of a prefab home is 35 years or more. Prefab homes last as long as stick-built homes because they are constructed in a factory away from bad weather. Additionally, prefab homes tend to have tighter seams than traditional houses, extending their lifetime. Moreover, prefab homes are specifically built to withstand travel, and their structures are generally stronger than stick-built homes. 

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Consider Century Homes For Your Next Modular Home Build

Is a modular home is a prefabricated home? The answer is YES—It is a type of prefabricated home. Modular homes can be built out of various materials and last as long as or longer than a traditional stick-built home. If you choose a reputable modular home building company, you can have a move-in-ready house in less than six months.

At Century Home Builders, we have an experienced team who can build a prefab home you will be proud of owning. Our professional prefabricated home building team can answer any questions about modular homes to ensure you choose the best home for your needs and wants. Get in touch with us to begin your modular home journey.