There are many misconceptions surrounding homes that are partially or completely assembled or built BEFORE they reach site. Factory built, modular, prefabricated, trailer, kit and package homes are all common terms that get thrown in together. In general ‘manufactured’ is an umbrella term for any home built in a manufacturing facility.
A modular home refers to a specific type of structure designed and built in ‘modules’ or sections in an indoor manufacturing facility. In Canada a modular home has its own specific code designation – CSA277. These homes are shipped to site on the back of a semi in pre-built modules. These modules usually have both exterior and interior materials, even carpet and kitchen appliances, installed. Once on site a crane or special jacks raise each module and transfers it to the foundation. In Canada a modular home is required to have a concrete foundation by most municipalities. The crew then comes in and joins the sections and ‘buttons up’ the home.
A modular home is usually chosen from a selection of available plans. Some modifications are possible but are usually minor. Major structural changes are limited by the system of building itself: load bearing walls are hard to move, shipping widths limit size & height, for instance. Modular is ideal for people looking for a housing solution that reduces building time and stress and can be really energy efficient. You sacrifice the ability to custom build and settle for a home that is usually at the lower end of the quality scale. Many municipalities and building schemes do not allow modular homes.
A prefabricated package home refers to a system of building where you order a complete custom home, with all the materials needed shipped directly to site. Additionally, a number of key components can be ‘prefabricated’ in a manufacturing facility. Trusses, floors even walls can be pre-built and then shipped. A package home uses exactly the same materials as any other site built home, is built the same way and is governed by the same codes. By using some prefabricated components there is a time and cost saving factor. Manufactured homes use high tech equipment in production.
Prefabricated homes are generally highly energy efficient, with greater emphasis placed on ‘green’ building and technologies than traditional site built homes. The client deals with fixed costs on materials as quotes are complete before construction starts. Additionally, clients have complete freedom to build the home they want, without limitations. Prefabricated package homes are an ideal choice for homeowner builders.