Modern Prefab Homes Explained

by Genius Homes

Prefab homes have come a long way since they were first introduced to the market. From the early days, when prefab simply meant a house was built from pre-constructed panels, to the modern prefab home known today which is delivered in its entirety to site the history of prefab begins much further back than people realise!

The first mention of a prefabricated building was between 1160 and 1170 by Wace as confirmed by Pierre Bouet, where he spoke of a castle transported by Normans in 'kit' form. Skip ahead to the 21st century and we are now seeing prefabricated buildings as a common form of construction. Modern architects are adapting to the prefab construction process as it’s becoming a smarter way to deliver well-designed and mass-produced modern homes at a lower cost and more efficiently than an onsite build. 

What is a prefabricated home?

When you hear the term prefabricated (often shortened to prefab), it refers to the type of construction process, rather than a specific style of house. 

Unlike traditionally built homes a prefab house is built within a factory before being delivered to its permanent location. Prefab homes can come in many shapes and sizes, in fact, many people can not tell the difference between a prefab home and a traditionally built home thanks to the advanced manufacturing processes and modern, cutting-edge designs that we are seeing today.

Prefab homes are becoming more attractive thanks not only to homeowners, but also building companies and architects alike as new and innovative ways are found to make them as stylish as possible. These houses are able to be built cheaper, faster, and more sustainably than onsite homes and with modern construction challenges in mind this has resulted in some of the brightest minds seeing prefab as an innovative solution to the world’s housing problems

The reason why this construction process is more affordable is due to it being built indoors. Costs are saved as weather conditions are less likely to affect performance and wear and tear of construction equipment and efficiencies can be more tightly controlled as the process becomes more like a tightly controlled manufacturing facility than a building site.

What are prefab homes also referred to as?

Modern prefab homes can be a combination of many different build methods and can go by very different names. In an attempt to make a particular prefabrication method stand out it’s often given a new name while still, fundamentally, being a prefab. These include:

  • Modular Homes
    These structures are made of multiple sections that are constructed off-site, but the sections don’t come together until they’re at the final building site. This can be a good option if access to your site is limited, or roads are narrow. You will still have tradies on site and whereas it's quicker than assembling the building on-site it's a small variety from a full prefab. Some of our larger designs, like the Waimakariri, are modular in that they’re built as separate pods which are connected on site. This is how we can prefab such large homes with modern layouts.

  • Transportable Homes
    These are built entirely in a factory and delivered to your site as a home that's pretty much ready to live in once it arrives. This involves minimal disruption and, because they're temporary homes (often on wheels or steel skids) that can be removed again at a later date. Consent rules for these homes vary, as they're not a permanent dwelling. If you're looking for something a little more permanent to call home then you may want to consider a prefab home, rather than a transportable. While a transportable home is designed to be removed from a site with ease, a prefab home, like ours, is not able to be easily removed once it’s on site. 

Benefits of building a prefab home

Most manufacturers of prefab homes set up building facilities in areas where materials and labour are more affordable and accessible, this helps lower the costs for the buyer. In addition to this building time is much shorter, which also lowers costs and tradies are going to a factory near where they live, rather than driving to a location, which they’ll charge as a cost. If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of prefab homes then check out this article.

How are prefab homes transported to their location?

Modern prefab homes are built and sent all over the country, it is quite impressive to think a brand new 4 bedroom home can be delivered on the back of a truck (or trucks) before being delivered brand new to its owners. 

Delivering a prefab home can come with some complications, which is why it is important to factor your location before setting your heart on a prefab home option. For example, here at Genius Homes, we are located in Timaru, a township in the South Island of New Zealand, this means homes built in our factory can only be delivered to locations in the South Island only. This is because we deliver the homes ourselves, thanks to our experienced in-house truck drivers. So if you’re looking to build a modern prefab home in the South Island of New Zealand, talk to a member of the team!

Transportable home to site - Genius Homes

Some questions to consider if you’re thinking of heading down the prefab house construction route include:

  • Could a large truck enter through my driveway, or is it too narrow? If you’re in doubt we can use software to check and let you know if it’s possible or not. Our trucks are surprisingly flexible!
  • Does my township sit in a remote area that is only accessible through narrow, windy roads? We can deliver to most small towns so let us know where your site is and we can work with you to help answer this question. 
  • Is there another dwelling in front of the location I would like to site a prefab home? Might the other house need to be moved before a new home can move past? We’re unable to crane our homes over other buildings so talk to us about whether it will be possible to access the spot you’re looking to place the home 

If you would like to know more about the transportation of a prefab home we have created a thorough blog explaining everything you need to know about transporting a prefabricated house around the South Island of New Zealand. 

Are prefab homes customisable?

Prefab house plans can be customised to suit the customer with many more options available than you may have thought! Whether you’re looking to change the floor-plan to include a larger bathroom, a media room or perhaps an extra bedroom, the options can be broad. There are some restrictions but, as always, a quick chat with a specialist can help you answer the last of these questions.


If you’re interested in seeing if a prefab home option works for you, why not start by downloading our current product catalogue? We have a range of two-bedroom, three-bedroom and 4-bedroom options as well as large accommodation complexes and one-bedroom second dwelling options. 

2021 Genius Homes Brochure download now

filed under Prefab Homes NZ

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