The terms modular and prefab are often used interchangeably, but in fact, there is a difference between the two. Other terms that are often confused with these two include panel-built and manufactured.
Prefab, which is short for prefabricated housing, refers to any house that has sections of the structure built in a factory and then assembled on site. Modular and panel-built homes both fall into the category of prefab.
Panel Building involves laying down the floor and then lowering each section of wall into place one at a time. Most commercial prefab buildings are panel built, as this type of construction allows for wide-open spaces and high ceilings. They also work well for houses that don’t fit neatly into modules. That said, panel-built homes are just as structurally sound as modular homes. Furthermore, with panel building, anything that’s attached to the floor, for example, toilets, sinks, dishwashers can be attached beforehand. The same goes for cabinets and light fixtures for walls and ceilings. This means less work for the builder and less time and money spent by you.
Modular Building, on the other hand, involves the house being constructed in separate box-like modules that are then secured together to form the whole. Since the modules have to be transported on the backs of flat-bed trucks over highways, they typically can’t be more than 16 feet wide and can’t be longer than the size of the truck. Modular construction doesn’t allow for additional structures, such as garages or porches, to be built in the factory. However, modular and panel building techniques can be combined so that the factory can deliver your home up to 90% complete and additional structures can be built on site.
Manufactured Houses are also built in factories, but no construction takes place on site. They are constructed on steel frames, shipped on their own wheels, and then laid out on crawl spaces or slabs of concrete. Unlike prefab homes, manufactured homes don’t age well and are prone to maintenance issues.
Now that you have a clear understanding of the different construction terms, you can better understand the various construction processes, make informed decisions about your home or business, and of course, you can impress your friends at cocktail parties.
For any additional support with any and all of your modular needs, contact Nashua Builders.
Elitzer, J. (2015). Do You Know The Difference Between Prefab and Manufactured Homes? The Definitive Guide to Building Modular: Modular Homeowners.