What Is the Difference Between Modular and Prefab Homes?

When considering a new home in New Zealand, the terms “modular” and “prefab” are likely to come up frequently. At Ecopod, we understand that navigating these terms can be confusing, especially when each offers unique benefits. Let’s break down the differences between modular and prefab homes to help you make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

What is a Prefab Home?

Prefab homes, short for prefabricated homes, are essentially a broad category that includes various types of homes constructed in a factory setting before being assembled on-site. The primary types of prefab homes are modular homes, panelised homes, and manufactured homes. Each type has distinct characteristics and benefits:

  • Modular Homes:

These are built in sections, or modules, in a factory and then transported to the site for assembly. Each module is a fully constructed unit, including walls, floors, ceilings, and sometimes even interior fixtures and finishes on-site, these modules are joined together to form a complete home.

  • Panelised Homes:

These homes are constructed in panels (such as walls and roof sections) in the factory. These panels are then brought to the site and assembled there. Although this enables greater customisation on-site, it requires more construction work compared to modular homes.

  • Volumetric Prefab Homes:

These are built entirely in a factory and transported to the site in one or more pieces. Volumetric prefab homes are typically ready to live in upon delivery, with minimal onsite work required such as services connections, landscaping, decks and steps. This type offers the highest efficiency in terms of construction and installation.

What Makes Modular Homes Unique?

While modular homes fall under the umbrella of prefab homes, they have specific features that set them apart:

  • Factory Construction

Modular homes are built in a factory setting, ensuring that each module is constructed to precise specifications. This factory environment helps maintain high quality and reduces the impact of weather delays, common in traditional on-site construction.

  • Onsite Assembly

Once the modules are constructed, they are transported to the site and assembled. The joining process is crucial, as it involves integrating the modules into a seamless structure. This stage requires skilled tradespeople such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters to ensure the home is fully functional and meets all building standards.

  • Customisable and Flexible:

Modular homes offer a degree of customisation, allowing homeowners to choose different layouts and finishes. However, the customisation might be less extensive compared to panelised homes, which are less constrained by transportation and onsite connection requirements.

  • Efficiency Considerations:

While modular homes benefit from the efficiencies of factory construction, the need for onsite work can slightly reduce these efficiencies. For instance, tradespeople still need to complete tasks like connecting utilities and finalising interiors. Despite this, modular homes often present a balance between quick factory construction and the necessary detail work required on-site.

Which Ecopod is Right for New Zealand Consumers?

For New Zealand consumers, both modular and prefab homes offer substantial advantages, particularly in terms of cost savings and construction speed. Prefab homes, with their factory-based construction, ensure that materials are not exposed to the elements, reducing weather-related delays and material degradation. Modular homes, specifically, can be an excellent choice for those who need a faster build time but have transportation constraints that make delivering the whole home unfeasible.

Ecopod is committed to offering sustainable, efficient, and high-quality housing solutions that cater to the diverse needs of New Zealanders. Explore our range of sustainable and innovative home solutions at Ecopod and embark on your journey to a beautifully crafted, eco-friendly home.

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