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The limitations of prefab homes in NZ

Building your new home is an exciting step but it involves making a lot of decisions. To ensure your project aligns with your needs, it pays to know everything about your chosen building method – the good and the bad. 

To help you make an informed decision about your new home, we believe in being open and transparent about every aspect of the prefab method. By addressing the potential problems of prefab homes, we ensure that our customers know exactly what to expect during their building journey with us. 

In this article, we outline the potential drawbacks of prefab homes and situations when a prefab may not fit your needs. If these limitations apply to your situation – that’s okay! Ultimately, we want to ensure your new home is exactly what you’re looking for. To answer any doubts you may have, get an honest breakdown below. 

What is a prefab home?

Prefabs are a type of transportable home that is built off-site in a specialised factory. When the house and interior fitout is complete, it is delivered to the final location on a truck, secured to the foundations, and connected to site services. At this point, the house is as durable and comfortable as a conventionally built home. 

The key advantages of prefab homes

  • Efficient
  • Minimal disruption to the building site
  • Durable
  • Faster build times
  • Low maintenance

Our efficient building techniques allow projects to be completed much faster than a traditional home while also reducing material waste. 

When not to choose a prefab

We understand that prefab homes aren’t the perfect solution for every project. It may be worth considering an alternative way to own a new home if one or more of the following situations apply to you:

Traditional character features

If you want a home with character features, a prefab home may not be the best solution. While you can customise the finishes, colours, and materials, prefab designs tend to have a modern appearance. Traditional elements, such as custom skirting may be incorporated, but this will add to your costs. Changing roofs from gable to mono, or from a regular ceiling to a racking ceiling, may be possible, depending on the house, the site, and your budget. 

Some of our house plans have elements that hint at traditional character, such as verandahs and gable rooflines. For example, the Cottage 2, Villa 3, and Oxford 3. If your heart is set on adding more of these features, you can ask about a custom design

3 bedroom prefab home nz

Large floor plans

If you are planning to build a large home with more than one story, a prefab house can be adapted to fit the desired layout and requirements. However, they must meet the New Zealand Transport Agency load regulations.

At Genius Homes, we will ensure all the transport requirements are met and any necessary permits are obtained. Most of our houses require a special delivery permit, which we tailor to the relevant location and delivery route. Unless it is a tiny cabin, no prefab would be less than 4.5m wide. 

Our modular Benmore design may be the right fit for you, or contact our sales team to discuss our other options if you are set on having a larger home. By building the layout in multiple modules, we can deliver the home in separate loads and achieve a larger floorplan. This will incur more delivery costs but could be worthwhile for the additional space. 

Visit Genius Homes' 4+ bedroom house plans here

Restricted delivery routes 

If your building site can only be accessed under a low bridge or narrow stretch of road, delivering a prefab may be a challenge. This will depend on your chosen house plan and your delivery route options so ask our team for a site visit to find out for sure. 

We’ve delivered to sites all over the South Island — you’d be surprised at what can be achieved.  

Narrow site access

Building a prefab home requires a suitable site, which involves a site consultation early on. If the site is extremely steep, there are low-hanging wires, or trees encroach on the accessway, the truck may struggle to get your home to its final destination. 

However, our team may be able to design your home to accommodate this. Simply ask us for advice today. 

Houses on stilts

As a general rule, a prefab can be modified to work on a stilt foundation, but consideration must be given to the extra foundation costs and crane costs, as well as problematic access for cranes and trucks in most cases. Before ruling out the possibility completely, we recommend booking a consultation with one of our advisors to help you understand the options available to you.

First home buyers

Even though prefabs can be more cost-effective on some sites than traditional building methods, especially in remote areas, many first-time buyers may find it difficult to obtain prefab finance. Unfortunately, banks can be hesitant to lend to buyers when the house is being built off-site because there’s no security for the loan. Generally, they won’t loan any money until the house is on the building site and securely fixed to the foundation. 

Fortunately, financing solutions for transportable homes are increasing. At Genius Homes, our partnership with BNZ means more buyers can access funding that suits the prefab method. Our prefab method also allows us to offer fixed-price contracts, which will improve your chances of financial approval. 

Get started on securing your first home loan with Genius Homes by clicking here

Extreme customisations

Most prefab and modular home companies offer a range of floor plans to choose from, with a select few customisations you can choose from. Unfortunately, the extent of these customisations is limited. While you can make changes to your cladding, windows, roof, and interior fitout, changing the exterior dimensions or adding a second story will be more of a challenge. 

If you want to add a bedroom or extend the home slightly, speak with the Genius Homes team for advice. 

Prefab homes NZ

While it is worth taking the above limitations into account, prefab construction is an innovative way to build a new home in New Zealand. If you choose the prefab method, it's essential to work with a reputable builder. At Genius Homes, our design and build process is streamlined and stress-free. See the key stages outlined below.

Building a houseInitial consultation

Our consultation team discusses your needs to design a house that’s tailored to your needs. 

Home build processProposal and design sign-off

We provide a proposal with CAD renders and the total costs.

Prefab homeColour selection and council consent

We send the paperwork for council consent while you select colours, fittings, and materials. 

Prefabricated homesConstruction

Our team builds the home in our fully enclosed warehouse. This includes flooring, framing, windows and doors, plasterboard, insulation, cladding and roofing.

Building a house nzInternal fit-out

We complete the interior fitout, including wall linings, floors, paint, kitchen, bathroom, electrics, and plumbing.

New build homesSite works and delivery

Your home is delivered to your section and connected to the site services. We’ll complete final touch-ups, add decking, and complete a quality inspection.

If you want to learn more about prefab and modular homes, sign up for our email newsletter, see our frequently asked questions, the full catalogue of house plans, or our full explanation of the prefab process at the link below.

Download the ultimate guide to choosing a prefab home

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