What are Prefabricated Homes?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Sometimes referred to as panelized or modular homes, a prefabricated house or home is a dwelling that is created in sections or modules within a factory, then assembled on site. Prefabricated homes are often less expensive to construct than traditional homes, while still providing a solid structure that will hold up for decades. This form of prefab construction has become increasingly popular since the beginning of the 21st century and is likely to become even more popular over the next couple of decades.

A prefab house is as stable as any other type of permanent structure.
A prefab house is as stable as any other type of permanent structure.

Prefabricated homes are often constructed using assembly line methods that make use of a set of basic blueprints. A single room usually constitutes one module, and is fully assembled on the plant floor. The modules are then transported to the building site and put into place with the use of cranes and other heavy equipment. Once in place, the modules are joined with the use of screws and glues to seal the joints of the edifice. As a last touch, the wiring and plumbing are put into place and any decorative accents such as chair railing, wallpaper, or molding is added to the rooms.

Prefrabricated homes generally cost less than similarly sized conventional ones.
Prefrabricated homes generally cost less than similarly sized conventional ones.

One of the advantages of prefabricated homes is the lower cost of construction. The modules are usually mass-produced, making it possible for homeowners to choose a house design. The order for the modules is placed, and the individual sections are lined up and connected as they arrive at the building site. This process saves a great deal of cost in terms of labor as well as materials, since manufacturers can take steps to make the most efficient use of the building supplies.

The amount of time it takes to complete prefabricated homes is also a great benefit to many homeowners. Even allowing for the amount of time that it takes to construct the modules, it is still possible to go from an empty lot to a fully functional home in as little as three months. This is in contrast to many situations where building a home using traditional methods could take anywhere from six months to a year before the house is ready for occupancy.

In terms of strength, there are some claims that prefabricated homes are even stronger than houses built using traditional methods. The reason for the added strength is usually attributed to the fact that the modules are connected using screws rather than nails, and that the screws are augmented with the use of industrial strength glues. However, others claim that while a prefab house is at least as stable as any other type of permanent structure, it is hard to determine if it is superior in terms of stability.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Latte31 - I know what you mean, but this type of housing is probably best used on a flat plain area because that is the only way to make sure that the foundation is set properly.

What I can’t get over is the modular home prices. It seems too good to be true because these homes seem really inexpensive to build and the modular home plans that I have seen are just like a typical home.


@GreenWeaver - Wow that is a shame, but I understand why they do it. What I always wanted was a prefab cabin in the Smoky Mountains area. The only problem I see with the prefab cabins is that I would worry about how the construction would work because most of these areas have a steep slope because they are on a mountain.

This is the only reason why I would probably go with an existing cabin that is already built in the area because it is challenging to build something on a mountain. I also wonder if the home owner’s insurance policy would be higher if I am using modular housing like this.

These homes really do look great and you can’t beat the estimated construction timeframe, but because of the steep incline, I would rather go with an existing home in the area.


I just wanted to say that I have seen what some of these homes look like and they are amazing. The cost varies, but I know in Florida the typical costs per square foot ranges from $60 to $135 per square foot and the construction timeframe ranges from four weeks to sixteen weeks.

The only problem that I see with these homes is that they are built on a wood frame and are completely made of wood. In areas like Miami, with strong building codes these types of homes would not be allowed because the building codes call for CBS construction or concrete block construction.

The reason involves the risk of hurricanes. After hurricane Andrew hit the Miami area in 1992, all of the building codes were changed that required all newly built homes to be made of concrete because those previously made of wood were obliterated with the storm. So modular housing or manufactured housing like this would be illegal in Miami.

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