What’s the Difference? Prefab v. Modular v. Manufactured Homes

Talk about a revolution, which has spanned across different aspects of human life, ranging from the use of smartphones to the varying styles of construction and design. This may not be known to most but when it comes down to building a new home, you have an array of construction structures to choose from. These entail prefabricated homes, panel-built homes, modular homes, and manufactured homes. In the present times, demand for prefab and modular homes has been on the rise, with manufactured homes becoming a too old school for the modern 21st-century man.

The increased preference for prefab and modular homes may be understood in detail once the nuances between the various structures have been fully comprehended. These differences have been set out in the paragraphs below.

Prefabricated Homes

This type of homes is usually factory-manufactured in the simplest terms. This broad category includes various building types and these are all built in the factory part-by-part. Once the parts have been fabricated in the factory, they are delivered on-site to be assembled there. The modular structure as well as panel homes are also from the same category but have subtle differences that will be discussed further.

Prefab homes are designed and structured in a controlled environment and then sent off for assembling onto the construction site. This controlled setting allows for assurance of quality, use of best material, systematic quality checks at each stage, precise engineering, and the use of SEMP (structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing) assessment.

Prefab homes follow a systematic workflow; the initial stage is that of assembly followed by final touchups made to the manufactured parts, which are then pipelined into the pre-assessment stage. In this stage, pre-packaging monitoring and verification occur and a permit is secured. The next stage would be delivery of the parts to the construction site and then begins assembly. Quality checks have been installed at each stage of the workflow, thereby ensuring consistent quality.

Modular Homes

As previously mentioned, the modular structure is an extension of prefab home structures. This type of homes is constructed using six-sided box-like structures put together to form the whole. The box-shaped modules are transported to and fro using flat-bed trucks and trailers. They are thus to be moderated to a length of 16 inches or less. However, these are now being amended with the use of technology and changes have been incorporated into bigger sized boxes. These homes are almost a complete version before they are delivered on to the construction site.

Material usage on these close-to-complete boxed structures includes wooden framing, steel framing, hot rolled steel, concrete and a combination of these. Modular homes are a form of prefab homes that are manufactured in a factory and then assembled on-site. It must, however, be noted that all prefab buildings may or may not be modular but all modular homes are prefabricated structures. Hence, similar to the prefab structures, modular homes also guarantee a meticulous quality check and a systematic process that aligns the workflow.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are usually constructed on a steel frame, which is then transported to the construction site and laid out on the concrete slab. The differentiating factor here is that no construction or assembling takes place at the construction site. The steel frame is designed and fully manufactured with no additional changes required. The steel frame has wheels on its own, that may or may not be removed once the house is delivered to its destination. The wheels may instead be covered with side skirting.

Manufactured homes are usually considered to be the least popular among all structures owing to critically high maintenance issues and the small time duration that they tend to last for. Their value decreases with time and for the entire life of the house.

Why choose prefab or modular homes over manufactured ones?

The following factors enable you to decide why a manufactured home structure is not a good option when choosing between prefab, modular and manufactured:

  • Prefabricated homes come with regular inspections as per the state and federal building laws, hence these are safer as compared to manufactured ones that adhere to lenient HUD standards.
  • Prefab structures and modular ones may be customized in accordance with the owners’ specification during factory processing. Manufactured homes are not open to such bespoke amendments, provided that they may be sold from available stock.
  • Relative to prefab structures that are both flexible and customizable, manufactured homes demonstrate a tin-like appearance that depicts a very conventional style for the modern homes. Manufactured homes limit exterior alterations and use of the flexible frame and design panels.
  • Most importantly, prefab homes undergo a quality process that ensures precision as well as the accuracy of design in each of its construction phase. On the contrary, manufactured homes tend to be more vulnerable to damages and withering over time.

It is hence, a more viable and wise option to go for a prefab structure while actualizing your ‘my-very-own-house’ dream, relative to a manufactured structure. Among the various prefab structures – modular or panel homes, either may be chosen and customized.