Apr 07 , 2022

What is a Prefab Home?


What is a Prefab Home?

You have probably heard of prefabs or prefab homes, and you are wondering, ‘What is a prefab home?’ A prefab home is a short form for prefabricated home. Prefabricated homes are buildings made of pre-made building components that are manufactured off site, transported and assembled on site.

What are Prefab Homes?

Prefab homes are houses made in the factory and transported as a unit to the site or assembled piece by piece on site.

Traditionally, buildings are constructed in systematic stages and every component is created on site. If there are any fabrications to be done like steel fabrications or making of doors and windows, they are also done on site. There are however smaller components that may be assembled on sites like doors and cabinets. With advancements in technology, this system is slowly being replaced by prefabrication. In this system of construction, all building components including wall panels, slabs etc. are made in a controlled environment at the factory and brought to the site to be put together into a building.

Prefab homes have become increasingly popular because they result in standard buildings and a shorter construction period. Learn more about the types of prefab homes, the average price of a prefab home, and whether a prefab home would work for you or not.

Types of Prefab Houses

1. Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are the types of the home entirely manufactured in the factory and transported on a flatbed truck in one piece to the homeowner’s land. These homes are placed on concrete foundations, piers or masonry crawlspaces. In the United States, these homes are regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations 24 CFR 3280 and must conform to the HUD code.

2. Modular Homes

Modular homes are the type of prefab homes where large modules are outfitted with fittings such as plumbing works, cabinets, and electrical fittings in a factory, then transported and assembled on site. The modules can be installed side by side, on top of each other or end to end. These modules are then joined using inter-connections to form one complete unit.

The house is set on permanent foundations and considered a permanent home. Modular homes are considered real property, just like traditional homes.

The size and design of these homes vary and are unrestricted but the houses have to comply with local building standards.

The construction time of modular homes is usually three to four months.

3. Panelized Homes

Panelized homes are also known as open-wall packages. The houses are built of floor, wall and roof sections which are pre-made individually and put together on site.

The construction process begins with structural element construction and when the entire shell is done, the panels are then brought on site and fixed to the skeleton.

Unlike modular homes, the interior fit-outs of panelized homes are done on site after which interior finishing is done.

Building codes of the local state have to be met at the factory where the panels are being manufactured.

4. Pre-cut Homes

Pre-cut homes, also known as kit homes or catalog homes are a version of panelized homes with even smaller pieces, measured and cut to size. Kit home panels are so easy to assemble that a homeowner can do it himself or herself eliminating the need for a contractor.

5. Container Homes

Container homes are made of industrial steel shipping containers. The shipping containers are reinforced on site where concrete footings and columns are built to support the weight of the containers. All fit-outs and interior finishes are done on site once the containers are installed.

The standard size of shipping containers is 40feet by 8feet and 20feet by 8feet. To achieve sizable livable space, more than one shipping container is used. Container homes are growing very popular across the world and with each passing day there are technologies to make the homes functional, comfortable and stylish. Multi-level container homes can also be built by stacking the containers. Usually, container homes have a compact modern design.

6. Mobile Homes

A mobile home is typically a house on wheels, like a trailer. These can be pulled by a vehicle to any location. These homes can be placed permanently or semi-permanently on a property. A group of mobile homes sited on lease land is what forms a trailer park.

What is the Average Price of a Prefab Home?

All prefab homes vary in price depending on factors such as design, location, size, complexity, insurance, taxes, and manufacturer among other factors. But one thing is for sure, they are all cheaper than the traditional on-site built houses. It is estimated that prefab homes are cheaper than traditional houses by 10-20%. The prices of prefab homes are calculated per foot and do not include the price of land.

In 2022, you can buy manufactured, mobile homes, modular or panelized homes at an average price of $400000.

Shipping containers are the cheapest of prefab homes. They could cost as low as $10000 and fitting out the container with basic amenities and finishes may deprive you of up to $35000. Larger and more distinguished container homes are more expensive costing up to about$ 150000.

Regardless of the average price of a prefab home of your choice, you can choose a house financing from prefab home retailers and specialized home lenders in case your savings do not make enough for the fabrication process. It is easier to get financing for prefab houses with permanent foundations just as it is with on-site built homes.

Would a Prefab Home Work for Me?

Prefab homes can work for anyone who desires a prefab home. After all, who doesn’t like lower costs and faster construction time?

Prefab homes however and as mentioned earlier, can be affected by certain things as the lay of the land. Every location has different building permits and zoning requirements. For this reason, you should do a background check on the area you intend to build your prefab home, and check the zoning requirements to see what is permitted by both the local area council and neighborhood. You also need to make sure the building meets local building codes.

With everything in check, you are good to go.


Prefab homes are no doubt cheaper and less hectic to build. They also offer a considerable range of design variations that you can choose from to bring your dream of being a homeowner to reality. Whether you choose a manufactured home, modular home, container home, precut home or panelized house unit, remember to consider such things as building and zone requirements, your budget, and most importantly, what package you are being offered by the retailer include. All that said, prefab homes are worth considering.

What is a Prefab Home?

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