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Building a Prefab House

Views:40     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2020-05-22      Origin:Site

Don’t let the term “prefab home” scare you away – today’s prefabricated homes, are downright fabulous. Not only do they provide home buyers with a custom, energy-efficient building solution, they’re also typically more affordable than traditional stick-built homes. While the total cost of a prefab home is highly variable based on size, amenities, and location, you can expect to pay between $180 and $220 per square foot – an amount that often includes the home’s interior fixtures and amenities.

Essentially, prefab homes are homes that are constructed in a factory before being shipped to a building site in pieces, where they’re then assembled on-site in a matter of days. This makes them a widely-accepted form of new construction that isn’t subject to the same zoning restrictions that frequently limit the placement of manufactured and mobile homes. In other words, prefab homes must meet the same building codes as traditional “sticks and bricks” construction, so you can build a prefab home practically anywhere.

Also, like traditionally-built homes, prefab homes typically qualify for construction and home loans, so you don’t have to have the total home cost on-hand. And in some cases, prefab home manufacturers are prepared to help you find appropriate financing to get your home construction started.


Types of Prefab Homes

There are several different types of prefab homes.


1. Modular Homes

Modular homes consist of one or more modules that are built in a factory (according to the state and local building codes where the home will be built) and then transported separately to the building site, where construction is completed. Each module usually comes fully-outfitted with interior fittings – plumbing, electrical, doors, closets, and stairs – so there’s little finishing work to be completed when the home is assembled.


Build times from the point of order to move-in are roughly three to four months. 


2. Panelized Homes

Panelized homes are built in panels – a whole wall, for instance – then each panel is transported to the building site and is constructed into a home. Typically, panelized homes require more finishing work than modular homes, as the interior finishing work, such as painting, installing cabinetry and stairs, and installing flooring, must be completed on-site.


Factory build-time is still similar to that of modular homes (about 6 to 12 weeks), but on-site build time is longer. It might take a week to construct the panels onsite, then it could take an additional month to complete the interior work, depending on the schedules of the subcontractors. Total build time can be estimated at three to five months, give or take, depending on subcontractor schedules.


3. Pre-Cut Homes

Pre-cut homes are “kit” homes, such as log cabin kits or dome homes. The homes are cut to design specs in-factory, then are shipped as a kit to the building site to be constructed on-site. Some pre-cut homes are panelized homes, but not all panelized homes are pre-cut homes.


One factor that sets apart pre-cut homes from panelized homes is that pre-cut homes are often designed for the motivated home buyer who wants to construct the home on-site themselves using the materials and instructions supplied by the manufacturer. The kits come with a detailed list of instructions and parts, much like a piece of Ikea furniture. The home buyer then works to piece the home together, either alone or with the help of a general contractor.


The basic difference between a panelized home and a kit home is intention – most panelized home builders intend for the panels to be pieced together by their company on-site, while kit home builders have no such intention, unless construction is an add-on feature. Also, not all pre-cut homes come with full walls or ceilings pre-manufactured.


For instance, some pre-cut log cabin homes simply provide the pre-cut logs and framing materials ready to be assembled on-site. These tend to have the longest on-site build times, which range drastically depending on whether the home buyer completes construction him or herself, or if he or she enlists the help of a contractor. Total build time can be estimated at a minimum of five months, although it could be much longer. 


4. Shipping Container Homes

Shipping container homes (homes made, quite literally, from industrial steel shipping containers) have made a splash in the media because of their funky and creative designs. Much like modular homes, shipping container homes can be stacked and pieced together like Legos to create homes, offices, and funky eateries, such as Container Bar in Austin, TX.


However, before you settle on shipping container building, just be aware that it’s not the same as building a prefab home. Shipping containers may be sturdy and strong, but they aren’t designed for residential use. This means you need to check your local building codes to see whether there are more restrictions for building homes using shipping containers. And unless you’re quite handy with a welding torch, you’ll likely need to hire an architect and general contractor to figure out exactly how to construct the home. These are still on the fringes of modular building, which means there are more hoops to jump through.


If you love the look and feel of shipping container homes, there are a few modular manufacturers who have redesigned the shipping container specifically for residential and commercial use. For instance, QINGDAO VISTA CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING CO., LTD. is a modular home manufacturer that uses the standards of a 20-foot shipping container to design its modular structures. For this reason, the homes are actually built to withstand worldwide shipping.


5. Flat Pack Container Houses

Similar to the combination of Pre-Cut Homes and Shipping Container Homes Complete the processing of various panel modules and pillars and other structural parts at the factory, and package them into a unit and transport them to the construction site. Customers can install it themselves. Usually a 20FT flat pack container requires two workers to install for 8 hours. You can choose whether to complete the installation of power system and water system in the factory. And whether it is equipped with door and window, furniture.


Size and Aesthetics

The sky’s the limit when it comes to prefab home size. There are tiny modular structures.


One reason modular homes have become so popular is because they meld nicely with the small house trend. Building a house of any size is never cheap, but those who want to keep costs and energy expenses low can opt for a tiny, pre-built modular home that requires much less in terms of foundation and utilities expenses, and can be constructed much faster than a stick-built home.


If you’re interested in building a prefab home, you really aren’t limited by aesthetic. You may just have to choose a particular type of prefab home based on your style preferences.



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