Real Estate: A New Home Buyer’s Introduction to Prefabricated Homes

Prefabricated homes have gained popularity in the past couple of years due to how easy it is to make them. What used to be a technique applied in larger construction projects are now being applied to the construction homes.

The ease of construction and the low cost has lead to sustained growth in the housing market. Notwithstanding, there are those who are unfamiliar and skeptical as to how prefabricated homes are made and whether or not they are a worthy investment.

Here is a short background on what prefabrication is, how it works and a little bit more information for those who are on the fence on whether or not they should get a prefabricated home.

What is a prefabricated home?

The word prefab home is not actually a construction industry term such as modular home or panelized home. The term was first actually used to refer to homes that used a combination of modular and panelized building systems. Nowadays, prefabricated home usually refers to a style of housing or a particular style of construction.

It has risen in popularity due to its low cost relative to homes that are made using more traditional construction methods. The low cost makes prefabricated homes more affordable to potential homeowners who are looking for a low-cost solution to their housing problems.

It should be noted however, that due to the housing crisis about a decade or so ago, not all prefabricated houses are cheaper than a house made using conventional methods.

History of prefabricated homes

Contrary to what most people think, prefabricated homes have actually been around for quite some time. In fact, the concept of a prefabricated home was made into a reality back in 1579 by a man named Akbar. However, the term itself was already in use in Europe somewhere between 1160-1170.

In the United States Sears had already offered kit assembled homes as early as 1902. There was also an abundance of manufactured homes throughout North America given the vast quantities of timber available in the continent.

The different types of prefabricated homes

Prefab homes come in different types. They fall under four different types. Those which are manufactured by pieces or components, manufactured homes, modular homes, and houses with wheels such as mobile homes. Knowing what category a home falls under is very important. The prefabricated home’s type will determine what laws its design must comply with.

Modular homes are not built as a home. They are constructed piece by piece and then transported to the construction site. Once there, the pieces of the modular home are then assembled according to its design and project specifications in order install the home at the site.
Modular houses are the most expensive types of prefabricated homes.

For most intents and purposes, these modular houses are treated in the same way as a regular home. Due to its similarity in specs to a regular home, the modular houses are treated as the most expensive of the prefab homes.

The smallest of the three are what are known as mobile homes. They are unique in that they are in a class of their own. Whereas the other two types of prefabricated homes are real property, mobile homes such as trailer homes are built on wheels and are considered as personal property. These are capable of being pulled by a vehicle.

DMV laws and regulations must be complied with for those who wish to own a mobile home. Mobile homes can be placed in trailer parks or on private land unless such land is within a private subdivision with rules which prohibit the placement of the same within its boundaries.

Steel beams are used in constructing manufactured homes. The steel beams serve as a frame where the manufactured sections are constructed or built on. Once the section is finished, the section is delivered to the construction site where it is installed.

What affects the cost of a prefabricated home

The cost of prefabricated homes vary from one home to another. Cost largely depends on a wide variety of different factors. These factors can fall under two major categories, market and project specification.

Market factors influence the cost of making prefabricated homes in two ways. First, there is the cost of the raw materials used in the construction of the prefabricated homes. They are made from pretty much the same materials used in building conventional structures. Cement, timber, and steel are just some of the few materials used in prefabricated homes.

The highs and the lows of the price of prefabricated homes are strongly influenced by the market price of raw materials. Also, the location is an important factor as the installation site might result in the homeowner having to pay extra to earn the right of placing their home at said site.

Second, the cost of a prefabricated home depends upon the specifications of the construction projection. In simple terms, the larger the home or the more exotic the design and materials used in the construction of the prefabricated home the more expensive it becomes.

Large prefabricated homes can cost millions, while some of the cheapest mobile homes can cost a few tens of thousands of dollars. As previously mentioned with greater detail, the kind of prefabricated home will also determine other costs such as the cost of financing, construction as well as the home’s appraisal.

Crucial considerations

There are two major important considerations that a homeowner must think about before purchasing a prefabricated home. First is their budget and their needs. This one should be easy enough and the buyer must make sure that they are paying for something that will address their needs first before paying for any extras that add to the home’s comfort of living.

Second, the law. Prefabricated homes are governed by different laws depending on the type of manufactured home. That said, homeowners might end up making a down payment only to encounter legal roadblocks later on down the road. This is a huge mistake that can cost not only money, but also precious time. Homeowners should be attentive and cautious concerning the laws involved in purchasing and installing their prefabricated homes.

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