What Is a Prefab Home and Why You Might Want One


In the world of home buying, prefab homes are becoming a popular choice for those looking to step onto the property ladder. What is a prefab home, and why are more and more home shoppers considering them?

Whether it’s the allure of a quicker construction time or the possibility of cost savings, prefab homes offer a unique set of advantages that traditional homes can’t always match. But they can come with disadvantages as well.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything from the basics of prefab homes to the intricacies of financing them. We’ll also weigh the pros and cons, giving you the information you need to decide if a prefab home is right for you.

Step one: Talk to a few buyer's agents!

Tell us a little bit about your plans (where you’re looking to buy and when you want to make a purchase) and we’ll connect you with top-rated buyer’s agents in your area. It takes only a few minutes, and it’s free.

What is a prefab home?

A prefab home, short for prefabricated home, is a type of dwelling constructed using pre-made components that are assembled on-site. Unlike traditional homes built entirely from scratch on the property, prefab homes are largely manufactured in a factory and then transported to their final location. This method of construction offers a streamlined building process, often allowing for faster completion times and potentially lower costs.

Prefab homes come in various designs and sizes, from modest modular houses to expansive custom designs. The key characteristic of these homes is their construction method; parts such as walls, roofs, and floors are made in a controlled factory setting before being shipped to the construction site. This approach not only speeds up the building process but also reduces waste and can improve quality control.

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Different types of prefab homes

  • Manufactured homes: Sometimes confused with the outdated phrase “mobile homes,” manufactured homes are built in sections in a factory on a permanent, non-removable chassis before being transported to the site for full assembly. They can be placed on a temporary or permanent foundation.
  • Modular homes: These prefab homes are also built in modules or sections in a factory and then transported to the site and assembled on a permanent foundation. Unlike manufactured homes, they are not built on a chassis. Modular homes can range from simple, one-story designs to more complex, multi-story structures.
  • Panelized homes: Constructed using pre-made wall panels and roof trusses, these homes are assembled on-site atop a permanent concrete foundation. The foundations for panel homes are typically built to fit in advance. Panelized homes offer flexibility in design and can be a cost-effective building option.
  • Pre-cut homes (Kit homes): These homes involve building materials that are pre-cut to design specifications in the factory and then shipped to the site for assembly. Also known as “ready-cut” homes, they appeal to DIY enthusiasts who wish to be more involved in the building process. It’s likely you have seen log cabins or tiny homes being sold as kit homes. However, not all tiny homes are kit homes.
  • CrossMod homes: A newer category that is built to HUD Code but designed with features that allow them to appreciate similarly to site-built homes. CrossMod homes bridge the gap between manufactured and modular homes.
  • Shipping container homes: Made from repurposed shipping containers, these homes are known for their durability and sustainability. They can be modified in a factory setting, and then multiple containers can be assembled on-site.
  • Tiny homes: While many tiny homes are prefabricated and fall in the “kit homes” category, they can also be built on-site. We include them here as a separate listing because there are many options available. Tiny homes are known for their efficient use of space and minimalistic lifestyle offerings. They can be either mobile or fixed on a foundation.
  • A-frame homes: Known for their steep, triangle-shaped roofs, A-frame homes can also be prefabricated. Their unique design is both aesthetic and functional, allowing for easy snow runoff in colder climates.

Each type of prefab home offers different benefits, including varying levels of customization, construction time, and cost, catering to a wide range of homeowner needs and preferences.

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