Pre-built homes, or better known as prefab homes, are houses that are constructed offsite – generally in a climate-controlled factory – and assembled onsite. Prefabs have become a popular choice when it comes to housing construction, due to its many advantages. Benefits include faster completion time, lower costs, and sustainability.
With demand comes supply, and many more construction and manufacturing companies are offering prefab options to build residential dwellings, including tiny houses. In recent years, prefabs are developed using computer-generated machinery. This advancement allows the house parts to be built with more accuracy and less waste, which makes for a more sustainable way of construction.
As tiny homes are the epitome of sustainable living, these homes combined with prefab builds are the ideal way to reduce one’s ecological footprint. A smaller square footage in a tiny home, also means using less materials, which can significantly lessen the costs of building for the homeowner.
Evidently, there are benefits to having a prefab home and it would greatly suit a first home buyer or down sizer. For those seeking to building one, it’s important to know that there are many different types of prefabs – and that prefab is an umbrella term for anything that is developed offsite. Keep reading to find out more about what these are.
Modular homes are one of the most complete forms of prefabs, as they can often arrive onsite in an almost finished state complete with flooring, kitchen appliances and the like. They’re built offsite in a factory and are then shipped to the site where it will stay permanently (unless you’re building a tiny house on wheels!). It’s then pieced together on location at a much faster rate compared to a stick-built home.
These types of homes come in varying styles and sizes, and you’re free to build even an additional loft or a small second floor to your tiny home. A cost-saving tip: ensure to have more of the work done at the factory when you can. This is because it can be more expensive to finish the house off if labor is costly in the area you have chosen to live in.
Did you know people used to order and buy houses from a catalog? Sears popularized this idea and have sold more than 70,000 of their Modern Homes between 1908 and 1940. These homes would be customizable and would be shipped off to you to assemble. Today, these are still around and are now more commonly known as kit houses.
Kit houses are generally half complete, with only the main frames of the house being made in a factory. Once it has been shipped out, you’ll need to assemble either yourself or with hired labor. A big advantage of a kit home is the flexibility in its design. While the main structure is standard, you can customize everything else to make it unique, making it a great fit for DIY-ers.
Panelized houses are like the real-life Lego. This popular prefab construction has the exterior walls built offsite, which are then installed on location like a jigsaw puzzle. Depending on the manufacturer, you’ll have some fittings installed onsite, such as the windows and doors. Just remember to make sure what the company is offering, as they may not always include the same things as other manufacturers.
There’s nothing more sustainable than building a tiny home with refurbished materials, such as a shipping container. Container tiny homes can look super quirky or sleek and modern, depending on your taste. Its straightforward shape means you can spend less time drafting a floor plan and more time living your new life in it. It also means that you’re able to stack them or join them together like a modular home for a bigger living space.
Shipping containers are also known to be able to withstand extreme climates, given its previous purpose of delivery goods in one piece. Bear in mind that shipping containers may not be qualified for residential use, so check your local building codes prior to building.
Timber framing is one of the oldest forms of housing construction and the technique has reached most corners of the world. What was once built with simple tools, timber-frame homes can now be built with sophisticated machinery. Once cut offsite, it can be delivered to location and assembled.
The traditional A-frame structure of timber-frame houses are still around, however modern construction companies have implemented the use of timber frames in various styles. Following in the sustainability route, most of the timber used to build tiny homes are often refurbished to be resource-efficient.
Did you know that you can pre-build concrete homes as well? Pre-casting concrete is a common construction method, which is practical and quick. There’s plenty of design opportunities when it comes to building a home with concrete, including the industrial look when you leave the walls unpainted. In terms of sustainability and utility bills, you’ll find that you’ll use less energy due to the concrete’s thermal mass abilities.
If you’re hoping to build a tiny house on wheels, concrete may not be the right prefab method for you. Concrete’s more suitable for permanent tiny dwellings, as its heavier mass won’t be supported when towing the home around.
Using pre-cut recyclable steel frames are a widely accepted construction process in building prefab homes, as it’s lightweight and can be built with minimal site impact. Apart from the reusing of materials, steel frame structures are strong and reliable, especially when combined with timber elements.
The combination of the two also offer a modern and sleek aesthetic. On top of that, steel frames offer even more design flexibility, thanks to its strength and long life span, which won’t limit your creativity when designing the most unique of floor plans.
Whichever prefab type you decide, ensure that you are well-acquainted with its advantages and disadvantages, as this may ultimately affect the type of housing you envision. It pays to do some thorough research to see which type suits you the best, in terms of your lifestyle and priorities.