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Modular Homes: What You Need to Know About Prefab Home

by | Feb 25, 2022 | Community, Sustainability, Utopia



Last Updated on August 18, 2022

Building a home is an important life milestone for a lot of people. But the ever-increasing cost of construction materials and housing prices is a major roadblock.

On top of that, traditional building methods and materials produce a lot of greenhouse emissions and waste. And as you, the planet is under the pressure of climate change and global warming right now.

However, there are some trends around more sustainable building practices that can stand face-to-face with all the inconveniences of traditional construction. Building methods such as off-site manufacturing could hold the answer.

Modular construction is a technique where components are prefabricated in factories before being delivered and assembled on-site. You may have heard of the term modular homes, but what exactly is it?

What is a modular home?

Modular homes are part of the large family of prefabricated homes or prefab houses. In other words, a large part of the components of the house is designed and manufactured away from the construction site.

A modular home is a type of accommodation that is made up of multiple pieces that can be moved around and assembled. Prefab homes are modular homes that are pre-assembled in a factory and shipped to the purchaser’s site.

These houses are more affordable and easier to maintain than a traditional home, and they can be customized to fit your needs. Prefab homes can be made from a variety of materials but are mostly made from wood.

In general modular housing is delivered to construction sites in one or several modules. Then these modules are assembled on-site to form a whole. The number of modules varies according to the project’s complexity, dimension, and transportation of the house.

The different modules that make up a prefab house are transported to the final construction site foundation. The foundation has been serviced beforehand with its different networks such as water, electricity, and gas.

The builder of the prefabricated home just needs to assemble the different modules to build the house. When opting for a prefab home, you can hire a professional to assemble it for you or you can do it yourself. When purchasing one, it comes with all the supplies as well as a guide to help you assemble it.

modular house being installs using crane

Why do we need modular homes?

Millions of people are striving to own a house. And the chances of owning one are drifting further out of reach each day. In the US nearly two-thirds of renters say they can’t afford to buy a house and prices are rising twice the rate of wages growth.

The same things in the UK where owning a house is becoming a distant dream for much of the country’s population. Millions of people are living in unaffordable and unsuitable homes.

The lack of high-quality social housing is pushing more people into poverty and in extreme cases homelessness. This situation is partly due to inflated house prices caused by low-interest rates, rising population, and ineffective government policies.

The world population is expected to reach 8 billion this year. It is estimated that by 2050 the world population will reach 9.8 billion and 68% of people will live in urban areas. Moreover, affordable homes are not being built fast enough to meet demand.

The UK government’s commitment to building 300 000 homes each year by 2025 is ambitious. However, lack of suitable development sites, low productivity, construction still using outdated building methods and a lack of skilled workers are causing lots of delays.

Not to mention that construction materials and energy consumption of homes are major contributors to carbon emissions. The most commonly used materials like concrete, steel, and aluminum account for 22% of global CO2 emissions.

Problem with traditional home construction

Use a lot of material

Traditional homes are often constructed from durable materials such as bricks, mortar, stone, concrete, and tiles. However, traditional constructions are material-intensive. A lot of materials are needed depending on the size of the project.

For concrete fabrication, aggregate (sand, gravel, or crushed stone), cement, chemical additives, and water are needed. These materials need to be extracted somewhere, processed, and then transport to the building site.

Concrete material causes a lot of dust while also consuming and absorbing a lot of water. Cement production cause 4% of greenhouse gas emissions as well as environmental degradation, transport emission, and air and noise pollution.

Planning and design

A traditional home takes a lot of planning, preparation, and work to build. Moreover, a lot of design and precision work is needed. Traditional builders can’t be experts in all areas which means you will need to hire specialized workers to complete different construction tasks.

Produce a lot of waste

Developing and building traditional homes generate huge amounts of waste, which is detrimental to the environment. The materials used for traditional dwellings are hard to recycle or reused.

It is estimated that as much as 30% of construction materials delivered to a site can end up wasted. More than 75% of construction waste ends in landfill. It is estimated that by 2025 annual construction waste will reach 2.2 billion tonnes.


Traditional home construction is a time-consuming process. There are several factors that make traditional approaches a lengthy process. Factors such as site topography, soil quality, and weather conditions.

Cold weather can make building processes lengthier and also builders are dependent on other contractors. Additionally, concrete takes time to dry and the type of housing project can also affect the overall time it takes to complete. On average it takes more than 12 months to construct a traditional house.

Costly and financing difficulty

Constructing a traditional home can be an expensive endeavor. The average home cost USD 300,000 (land cost not included) to construct. There are a lot of fees associated such as:

  • House Plan
  • Project management
  • Building permits
  • Excavation
  • Foundation
  • Framing Roofing
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing + Fixtures
  • Electric + Fixtures
  • Insulation
  • Drywall
  • Painting
  • Flooring
  • Appliances
  • Landscaping
  • Cleanup
  • And many more

Building a traditional home is expensive and financing them can be a burden. Conventional mortgages or construction loans have to be approved. The borrower must be eligible for a bank loan. And down payments and interest rates can further increase the cost.


Traditional construction is energy intensive. A traditional home consumes a lot of energy. A typical concrete house takes space and there is a need for land clearing.

The building and construction sector accounts for 39% of the global carbon emissions. A study reveals that the typical carbon emission for building a traditional home is around 50-80 tons of carbon dioxide.

All these factors are contributing to the rise of modular prefabricated homes.

Impacts of a modular home?

Modular construction has been on the rise in recent years and more people are becoming interested in this system of buildings. This type of habitat can be constructed quicker than conventional buildings.

These homes are faster to construct than stick-built houses. While a stick-built home can take one to four months to complete, a prefab accommodation is built in a factory, so fabrication can start immediately.

Since it is prefabricated, it can be assembled in several days and with very little labor for the structural and finishing parts. The savings made on construction times represent an advantage.

Modular construction can easily adapt to changes like new configuration, renovation, or the addition of new floors. These homes can also be built to fit specific needs and budgets.

Industrial assembly means lower costs and cheaper products. The financial aspect remains by far the most interesting of all. Although prefab homes are factory-made, they also come in luxury models.

In addition, the modules which once look like boat containers have undergone aesthetic improvements. Architects are becoming increasingly interested in this type of building approach. And homeowners are getting more freedom of design.

In addition, the modules are designed to easily accommodate renovations and expansions in the future. Another point is the work done in the workshop allows for ultra-precise construction and very high-level finishes.

Moreover, since the modules that make up the house are factory built, this means they are sheltered from bad weather, humidity, and intense heat during fabrication processes. Hence, the lifespan and robustness of the modules increase.

Factory manufacturing reduces waste produced for the building of houses. Only the essential elements are delivered to the construction site. And the manufacturer can easily reuse scraps and unused materials for other projects.

The materials used to construct the modular are usually wood and steel. Wood is a material that can be described as “sustainable” and steel as “eco-friendly”. Since wood can trap CO2 and steel are 100% recycled.

Benefits of modular homes

Being largely factory-made, a prefab home has many advantages to offer to individuals who wish to become owners. If you are looking for a prefabricated house model, the following information will certainly help you make an informed choice.

Energy efficient

A prefab house is designed with modern and geometric finishes that promote open spaces and let natural light in. Many companies are building attractive prefab homes to maximize the energy efficiency of the house.

Prefab houses are also built using environmentally friendly materials, LED light, use energy-efficient appliances and promote natural light. A prefabricated modular home can easily accommodate solar panels and store energy in batteries.

Since solar panels power the house, this can save the homeowner on electricity bills. And even if the home is powered by solar energy, it can still use the grip, this way the homeowner has two sources of energy.

And if the owner is energy conscious and uses energy-efficient appliances this can significantly save the owner money but also the owner can sell some of the excess electricity stored in batteries to his neighborhood to earn some extra money.

Insulate temperature well

One of the benefits of a prefab home is its ability to insulate the temperature well. They are built in a climate-controlled environment, allowing for more precise construction. Everything is sealed precisely to create an impermeable module.

This also means less heat loss, which can significantly reduce heating and cooling bills. Since they are factory-made, they also feature higher levels of quality control and craftsmanship. The building process is repeated so that manufacturers can predict their needs.

Better texture

Modular houses are mostly made of wood which brings on a lot of benefits. Each piece of wood is unique and creates a highly versatile aesthetic. Constructing with wood is like bringing mother nature’s fingerprint to a project.

Wood also brings an organic appeal, a calm and inspiring space. The rich texture of the wood brings a balanced and warm space. In addition to visual appeal, the wooden texture of wood creates a comfortable environment inside the home.

Reduce and reuse waste

The great thing about modular construction is that it doesn’t require the demolition of an old structure. It can be taken apart and moved to another location, thus reducing the need for new materials and energy.

Moreover, once factory fabrication is complete, and the components are shipped to the site where they will be assembled, all excess materials and waste remain at the factory where they can be used to build other dwellings. And since everything is precisely cut, there are very few wasted materials.

Prefabricated homes produce zero waste as all the hardware needed for assembly arrives on-site or is pre-installed in the modular pieces. It’s like building a Lego house except all the pieces are designed to your wants and needs. 

Additionally, the waste of materials is minimized and so homeowners only pay for the materials used. Buying a prefab home can therefore be an ecological and economical choice.

Furthermore, this type of fabrication reduces the need to purchase new materials and energy. And sustainable modular homes can be easily moved to another location. This feature helps you save energy and money because you don’t have to demolish the whole building before moving it.

No construction delays

Another benefit of these modulated dwellings is the low risk of scheduling conflicts. This is partly because the fabrication of the modules cannot be delayed by the external environment since everything is done indoors and in a controlled area.

Traditional building processes are usually delayed by adverse weather conditions. With modular home construction, however, the process is not affected by the weather. The modules are constructed in a controlled factory environment, where outdoor weather conditions aren’t a factor.

These advantages mean that prefabricated modular home construction can proceed throughout any season without any problems. Likewise, the fabrication process will be completed on time and without any waste of resources. These accommodations are simply built in segments and can be completed in a fraction of the time that traditional dwellings take to build.

Without the interruptions caused by the weather, an average house could be built in four months at most. Even if there are delays on site, it may not be a significant problem because this type of housing can be quickly and easily assembled and disassembled.

Fast to construct

Workshop assembly presents advantages such as speed. Workers assemble elements of modular houses much like assembling a car. Which can result in building houses in record time.

Prefabricated accommodation is an off-site, custom-built home. They are built in square or rectangular modules and transported to the building site with all of the necessary supplies and a guide for assembling them.

A prefabricated modular house can be built anywhere, including in off-grid communities. The components are shipped to the building site in sections and are placed on the foundations before they can be assembled.

When you buy a manufactured home, the modules will already include wiring, plumbing, insulation, flooring, windows, and doors, as well as siding and roofing. This means that once the modules arrive at your site, your builders will have little to do except connect the pieces together.

All this means that it is faster to construct a modular property than to build one from scratch, especially a traditional home. You’ll also spend less time finishing the home compared to traditional building methods.

The good news is that modern homes prefab are typically finished within three to five months. The building process is also more controlled, which means there are fewer chances of delays. Because the modules are built in separate buildings, the manufacturer can begin to construct the property while the foundation is being prepared.

Factory-made (in a controlled environment)

The factory execution of a modular house allows control of the environment in which the house is built. Being sheltered from the weather, this construction method ensures an ergonomic and safe workplace for the workers.

house modules being cut and assemble in factory
Image by Quality Home

These pre-engineered houses are built in an assembly-line style in a climate-controlled factory. The entire building process is finished off-site, and weather problems are avoided. Moreover, workers work in a safe environment allowing them to maintain a high production rate.

Quality control

Modular home construction has improved drastically in recent years and can even compete with traditional houses. They are built on an assembly line which means that the process of building all the parts goes through intense quality control.

Since modular housing is factory-made, quality controls are regularly carried out to ensure that tasks are carried out with good practices and comply with building principles. Each prefab module goes through strict control which allows for a precise and quality finish.

Easy to renovate and extend

Makeovers and renovation can easily be carried out with a factory-made home. The house can be easily modified since the module can be separated or cut with great ease. Moreover, adding a new section to the house is easy.

A defect section in a prefabricated house can be easily repaired by a homeowner. These sections can be easily accessed and dissemble to add new ones. The homeowner just needs to remove the section of the home, replace the section, and reattach everything.

Cost efficient                            

Modular housing is a great investment for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is that they are typically more affordable than traditional ones. A modular house is a great option for people who want to live in a cost-efficient home.

This type of dwelling is made up of modules that can be assembled in a variety of ways. The most obvious benefit is that it is cheap to build. Modular houses are typically made up of smaller, more manageable pieces that can be assembled on-site. This means less wasted space, less wasted time, and less wasted money.

Customizable and design flexibility

You can also personalize and customize your modular home design to fit your unique needs. Since it is factory-made, everything can be easily customized and streamlined to fit your lifestyle and taste.

A modular home can provide you with a great deal of flexibility in terms of layout and design. Buyers can choose from hundreds of designs as well as create their own customization and quote it to the manufacturer.

You can even combine your ideas with existing home designs and the manufacturer will make it become a reality. The end goal is a highly personalized property to your taste. Which can also increase comfort and convenience. In addition to customizable and design flexibility, since the home has great wooden texture it creates a healthy and less stressful environment.

Environment friendly

One of the biggest benefits of prefab housing is its impact on the environment. Low-carbon passive building, resistant and durable eco modular houses offer high energy performance while limiting the impact of construction on the environment.

A prefabricated modular house is also energy efficient, so it lowers your energy bills. Moreover, they are often held to more environmentally friendly standards than conventional housing.

Here there is no need to dig deep foundations to erect the house nor to carry out waterproofing work which helps preserve the soil. And because the components are prefabricated and built in factories, there is less waste generated.

The emphasis of prefabricated homes is on using non-toxic and renewable materials. Traditional building materials can be hazardous to human health, but this type of construction can withstand the long travel time.

These eco homes are constructed at a factory using materials that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. They are mostly manufactured using wood which is environmentally friendly and steel which is recyclable.

A sustainable modular home is ideal for people who want to reduce their carbon footprint. They are made of pre-assembled building units that are shipped to the site on trailer trucks. There is no need for heavy construction which reduces carbon footprint and land degradation.

Future of modular home

The world is in the depths of a housing crisis as well as climate crisis. From developing countries to leading economies the lack of quality affordable housing worldwide has reached critical levels. Property prices keep increasing in cities around the world.

With the global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, houses are simply not being built at the scale, speed, and quality that is needed. While there is no simple solution and many complications making progress difficult, future modular homes are now stepping up to the challenge.

In public opinion, manufactured homes have often had the reputation of being of poor quality. However, with technology, modern prefab homes are as good quality as traditional ones.

Future modular home construction methods use technological advances such as robotics to increase productivity and precision while reducing waste and impact on the environment.

And with 3D printing, the concept of prefab houses can go to another level. Modular construction is expected to grow by 6% globally by 2022, with several countries already beginning this transition.

Europe has the largest Modular Homes market share with about 29% followed by North America with about 25% market share. The global market size was valued at USD 45260 million in 2020 and it is expected to reach USD 54050 million in 2027.

In Europe, Sweden is a model in this area and even the leader in manufactured housing. About 84% of single-family houses built in the country are prefabricated houses. In Japan, nearly a quarter of new homes are already prefabricated.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the Asian Pacific region is the most promising market for modular construction. The main driver is increased demand for affordable and sustainable construction as well as rapid urbanization and industrialization. The modular construction market is expected to reach USD 129.67 billion by 2023.

The different modules or sections of a manufactured house are 70-90% completed when transported to a job site hence reducing 80% of onsite activity. Modular construction is also durable as it can withstand wind up to 180 mph.

According to Mckinsey and company, this construction approach can reduce project timelines by as much as 50% and developers can save up to 20% on construction costs. The global prefabricated building market is expected to reach USD 153.7 billion by 2026.

Cost of a modular home

Modular home financing is cheaper than a traditional home. As mentioned before, they are factory made which means they are cost-effective and manufacturers can take advantage of economies of scale to decrease costs.

A factory-made house can cost up to 15% less than a similarly-sized home using traditional methods of building. A modular home can cost USD 100-200 per square foot (cost of land, additional fees, and total finishes include).

Hence a typical 1800-square-foot modular home can cost between USD 180,000 – 360,000. The average price is USD 240,000. In comparison, a custom-built home costs anywhere from USD 350,000 up to more than USD 1 million.

The based model of this type of housing without any installation can cost between USD 50 – 100 per square foot. This brings the price of a 2000-square-foot home anywhere between USD 100,000 – 180,000. What’s more amazing is that some manufacturers even offer construction loans and payment facilities.

How long does it take to assemble a modular home?

Modular accommodations are durable since they are precisely cut and well-made. Most of the housing components are made from high-quality materials. A well-maintained one can easily last for decades. 

A modular home is generally constructed faster than a traditional home. Typically depending on the size, a fully completed home can take anywhere from 16 to 31 weeks.

Final words

Once considered a cheap and low-quality housing option, modular homes have come a long way in recent years. They offer buyers another way to realize their dream of owning a home and have a lot of advantages over standard houses.

It is also possible to save a lot of money in the long run by building your dwelling in a factory. You won’t have to deal with weather delays or expensive transport.

Modular prefabricated houses can be a cheaper and greener alternative. They have various assets that succeed in convincing more and more individuals to opt for this type of accommodation instead of a standard house.

Low ecological footprint, personalized design, and even price below the market are some points that can explain why this new method of construction can be revolutionary. With that being said, modular homes can keep the dream of homeownership alive as well as make a positive impact.