So what exactly is a prefab home?


What is a prefab home?

 Prefabricated houses, often referred to as prefab homes, are so called because they are primarily manufactured in advance off site, then delivered and assembled on site.

 Historically, prefabs have been much maligned in the UK, having been predominantly associated with low quality, high volume housing that replaced stock destroyed by bombs in the Second World War. But such prefabs were only intended to be temporary, which reflects the standard they were built to, even though some remain standing to this day.

 Whilst there is still some stigma around the term, modern prefab homes are now more often associated with quality and efficiency.  

 ‘Prefabrication’ can be roughly defined as ‘made before’. Traditional house building methods have long had elements of prefab to them, with components like timber roof trusses being made off site. However, by using ‘prefab’ to allude to a more modern method of construction, many companies now describe the virtues of their different approaches with this blanket term.

 The lack of clarity around ‘prefab’ and the assumption by many that it only refers to a modern, cost effective method is why it is used so widely, but any home can be considered prefab if some part of it is made before arriving at the site.

 Three other terms might sound familiar - these are often seen as interchangeable with ‘prefab’. We consider these subcategories of the prefabricated home with their own specific traits: modular, volumetric and kit homes.

Why are people interested in prefab?

 As a result of the industry using these terms (prefab, modular, kit and volumetric) interchangeably, we have seen confusion rise over the years. Throw ‘flat-pack’ into the equation too and it’s no wonder that people find it hard to understand who does what. Some companies happily use a number of the terms to describe their offering, and whilst each has its own pros and cons, they do all sit under the broader church of ‘prefab’ in that they involve advanced, off site production of some sort.

  Despite the slightly blurred lines, there are a fast-growing number of people in the UK considering the prefab approach to building their own home. Although it is not a new concept, advanced and innovative prefabrication techniques now offer huge benefits. The low quality, post-war prefab homes are a thing of the past and have been superseded by high quality, 21st century buildings.

  Many customers want the certainty that a modern prefab home can give them, reducing a lot of the risks inherent with a more traditional construction route. This will range from certainty over costs (with many companies offering fixed prices) and timelines, through to a guarantee of quality and a higher level of environmental performance.

  Add in a faster overall programme and it is easy to see why this solution is reducing the stress levels of aspiring self builders.

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