When you hear prefab, do you automatically think a “trailer on wheels” or a mobile home? Does your mind tell you substandard or cheaply built? You are not alone.
I hear it all the time when people ask me if we are a prefab Company and I tell them yes. I also ask them what the word prefab means to them. Let me explain what it really means.
Prefab is explained in Webster’s dictionary as a prefabricated building or structure. If you also break down the word you see the prefix of “pre” which means before like pre-1960 in history. The word “fab” means to assemble or fabricate. So if you really break it down, prefab means to build something ahead of time. So let’s explore this.
If we are talking about a building or structure, it can mean dozens of applications but let us concentrate on the 3 most common building types that are prefabricated, namely panelized homes, modular homes and manufactured homes.
Panelized homes are basically taking a stick framed home or building and pre-framing the wall sections, usually in a enclosed building, and sending our the walls in panels to the website. The walls generally do not include wiring, insulation or drywall and therefore are called open panel walls. Most if not all panelized wall sections are sheeted ahead of time. The benefits are numerous over stick framing and can include less waste, more accuracy, no delays for weather and allow you to frame a typical home in sometimes half the time as stick framing. The added bonus is the banks consider them stick framed for owner/builder loans. The drawbacks are usually reluctant framing crews who want to stick frame instead, you still need to hire a Contractor or coordinator as the project still has to be completed to turnkey.
Modular homes are getting more popular these days and for good reason. They are built to the same standards as a regular home in your neighborhood and even exceed the quality in some instances. A modular home is typically assembled in a large enclosed facility and would come out in @ 5-7 sections, ready to be craned together on site. Modular homes have most of the structural done ahead of time and allot of the finishing like drywall, already attached. Plumbing, electrical, heating chases are already in the walls and are finished being installed on site. It can take 30 or so days after assembly to finish the drywall, add cabinets, flooring, plumbing fixtures and any exterior finishing that needed to be completed. Obviously the benefits are that most of the work is done ahead of time and the fast completion time once on site. Most, if not all, modular Companies have crews available to complete your home. The drawbacks are restriction on design as this style of fabrication usually requires a gable roof in order for the structure to come together. They can cost more per square foot, once completed than a conventional build and you may be restricted on finishing choices. Keep in mind that Modular projects require 5-7 loads by a truck so shipping can be prohibitive the further away from the plant you are and access to your building site can be an issue. It may be prudent to check with your Bank and land use to confirm their policies on Modular use.
Manufactured or mobile homes are not what they used to be. Gone are the days of 2×4 exterior walls and little or no insulation. They too are prefabricated in an enclosed, environmentally controlled facility and most are now constructed of 2×6 exterior framing and conform to local building codes. The styles are allot more appealing and vaulted ceilings as well as a stylish master ensuite in not uncommon. Manufactured homes predominately come in 2 sections, already completed, including cabinets and flooring installed and can be set up and finished out in 2-3 days. The other benefits are you order a home and all you have to do is wait for it to show up and all manufactured home dealers will quote setting up on your site so you just move your furniture in.
The restrictions to manufactured homes can include plan selection, access to site, bank policies as well as whether you can put this style of prefab structure on your land. Some cities and Counties do not allow them in certain areas. Manufactured homes have been known to depreciate in value but not in all areas. Check with a Realtor or Dealer to get the facts.
Prefab homes and structures can include Commercial building, recreation cabins, as well as churches and schools. It is getting increasingly popular and acceptable in North American building society every year and I hope that I was successful in helping to change your thinking about the word prefab and what it really implies.