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The difference between modular homes and prefab homes

Alternative construction methods are gaining traction around the country, providing more feasible options for building a new house. While this does make your dream home more attainable, it can be overwhelming to decipher the difference between the range of solutions.
With terms like prefab homes, transportable homes, and modular homes cropping up, how can you decide which one is the right choice for you?

To simplify the process, this blog offers a full comparison of modular and prefabricated houses including what they are, how they compare, and how they can benefit you.

The rise of offsite manufacturing (OSM)

Both modular and prefab homes are subsets of offsite construction, so let’s first take a look at what that means.

In recent years, the term offsite manufacturing, or OSM has taken hold of the construction industry, with endless possibilities for building in a creative, resourceful way. Unlike conventional onsite construction, offsite manufacturing refers to any component – big or small – that is built on a separate site before being delivered to the final location. This can include anything from a single wall panel to a finished house.

By removing the risk of weather delays and site-based complications, OSM is efficient, affordable, and less taxing for everyone involved. Manufacturing usually takes place in a controlled factory environment and when ready, the product is transported to the site and quickly installed.

Prefab homes

Prefab homes refer to any house that is built in a factory and delivered to the site almost completely built. This is also known as a manufactured prefab. The only work that needs to be done once the house is on-site is to fix it to the foundations, connect it to site services, and complete any last-minute finishing touches.

Modular homes

Modular homes are a type of prefab that is built in sections and assembled once they are onsite. These may also be known as modular prefabs. In addition to the usual site work of a prefabricated building, these separate components must be joined up and made weathertight.

Modular homes vs Prefab homes

The rise in popularity of offsite manufacturing is for good reason – it is smooth, affordable, and stress-free. With these advantages, modular and prefab are better than traditional construction. But how can you decide which of these techniques is most suitable for your project? Let’s compare.

Streamlined construction

With next to no weather delays, predictable factory conditions, and unrivalled consistency, offsite construction is difficult to beat. Both methods are highly efficient, but due to requiring more site work, modular buildings are slightly more susceptible to delays. Until the different sections are assembled, they are at risk of weather damage whereas prefabs are weathertight before they leave the factory.

At Genius Homes, our 6-step construction process is as follows: 

  1. Discuss your preferences.
  2. Proposal and design sign-off.
  3. Colour selection and council consent.
  4. Construction and inspection.
  5. Internal fit-out and inspection.
  6. Site works and delivery.

As you can see, most of the process is completed well in advance, keeping the experience as simple and painless as possible.

Affordable new builds

Because of its efficiency and the centralised factory location, offsite construction is often more cost-effective. That’s because you aren’t paying for material deliveries or for tradespeople to travel to the site every day. There’s also less waste, shorter build times, and fewer workers needed. While they are more affordable than conventional methods, modular houses will cost slightly more than prefabs because of the increased number of hours spent onsite.

Customised house plans

Due to being assembled onsite, modular homes are often more flexible than manufactured prefabs. That’s because a prefab must fit on the truck for delivery while a modular structure is divided into more manageable pieces. 

However, prefabs have come a long way in the past few decades and it is now much easier to adjust a prefab house plan to suit your needs. At Genius Homes you can customise one of our off-the-shelf plans, or even design your own with help from our team.

Future modifications

With most prefab and modular house plans, you can easily add another section at a later date. This is especially helpful for growing families or farm accommodations when the initial layout is no longer large enough. However, it is usually more cost-effective to complete the entire project at once to minimise transport and installation costs.

For that reason, we recommend choosing an adaptable prefab design like the Kingston which includes an annexe. It will be ready when you need it and in the meantime, you can rent it out or use it as a guesthouse.

Style and layout

In terms of the final product, a prefab usually looks more complete and cohesive. Due to being assembled in pieces, modular homes tend to appear more fragmented and pod-like. Prefabs, on the other hand, are built in one seamless package. 

For a house that looks like it was built on-site, a prefab is the better option. And don’t worry, prefab doesn’t mean boxy — simply check out our gallery to see what we mean and to find inspiration for your next home.

Genius Homes prefabs

If you are looking for a high-quality house with minimal hassle, you can’t go past the Genius Homes approach. Not only is our process straightforward and affordable, but it’s also managed from beginning to end by our experienced team. All you have to do is be ready to move into your brand-new house in just a few short months.

We have a wide range of prefabricated designs, from practical 1-bedroom units to expansive 4-bedroom family homes. Whatever your needs and tastes, you’re guaranteed to find a house plan that suits you — and if not, we can customise them too! Simply find a plan you like and request a free, no-obligation quote.

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