The Difference Between Modular, Prefab, Kitset and Transportable Homes

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The Difference Between Modular, Prefab, Kitset and Transportable Homes

14th Sep 2023

The New Zealand housing market is always a hot topic, and many Kiwis are looking at new and unique approaches to building their home over traditional building methods. If you’ve been down this rabbit hole, you’re likely to come across terms like modular, prefab, kitset, and transportable homes. We know this may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry, this blog aims to unravel the complexities of these terms, helping you discern the subtle differences that set each apart.

Defining the Terms

First things first, let’s get a handle on these terms.

Modular Homes are homes that are constructed in individual sections, or ‘modules’, in a factory setting. Once completed, these modules are transported to the desired location and assembled on-site. This method of construction allows for a high degree of customisation and a shortened on-site construction time.

Prefab (Prefabricated) Homes, as the name suggests, are homes that are entirely assembled in a factory before being delivered to their site. Prefab homes can offer an enticing blend of affordable construction and design flexibility. Advance Build specialises in these prefabricated homes, with the construction of our customisable, high-quality homes taking place in our built-for-purpose factory in Kerikeri before being transported to the homeowners’ site.

Kitset Homes are a little different. They’re delivered as a collection of pre-cut, ready-to-assemble parts, providing a real do-it-yourself experience. Buyers must note, however, that Advance Build does not provide kitset homes.

Transportable Homes are just that – transportable. They are fully built in a factory (or in some cases, moved from an existing site) and then transported to the owner’s property. A transportable home refers to its movability – therefore, Advance Build’s prefabricated homes would also be considered “transportable homes”.

Now, these terms are often used interchangeably in casual conversation, which can understandably lead to some confusion. But as we’ve just laid out, each of these home types has unique characteristics that set them apart. The key to a smart home-buying decision? Understanding these differences, and knowing which aligns best with your needs and preferences.


A Detailed Look at Each Type

Modular Homes: A Closer Look

Modular homes, often referred to as ‘factory-built homes’, are an intriguing example of modern construction efficiency and innovation. They are composed of individual sections, known as ‘modules’, which are manufactured off-site in a purpose-built factory. This controlled environment allows for meticulous attention to detail, ensuring adherence to strict quality standards. Once these modules are completed, they’re transported to the site and assembled to form a complete home.

The modular construction process boasts several significant benefits. Firstly, it leads to faster construction as multiple modules can be built simultaneously in the factory and then assembled swiftly on-site, dramatically reducing overall building time. Secondly, modular construction results in reduced waste, as materials can be ordered to exact specifications and stored in a controlled environment, minimising excess and eliminating damage from weather exposure. Lastly, building off-site in a factory allows for stringent quality control, ensuring each module is built to precise standards, potentially leading to a better final product.

The essence of modular homes lies in their harmonious blend of efficiency, quality, and sustainability, making them an excellent choice for the environmentally conscious, time-strapped home buyer.

Prefabricated Homes: Delving into the Details

Prefabricated or ‘Prefab’ Homes represent another facet of the modern housing spectrum. Unlike modular homes, prefabricated homes are entirely constructed off-site, before being transported fully assembled rather than in multiple modules that are then joined together after they have been delivered.

Prefab homes offer their own unique set of advantages. Like modular homes, prefabricated home construction is more efficient and cost-effective in comparison to traditional construction methods. The streamlined factory production process can result in considerable cost savings for the buyer, as bulk material purchasing and utilisation of trained, on-site labour can help to keep costs down. This, combined with the speed of construction, can make prefab homes a more affordable alternative to traditional housing methods. Couple this with stringent quality controls that can be achieved in an environmentally controlled factory and streamlining the build process by virtually no onsite construction (remember, modular homes still require a final round of construction when reaching the site) and prefabricated homes are a great choice.

Another key advantage of prefab homes is design flexibility. While many prefabricated homes, such as the ones constructed by Advance Build, start with choosing a floor plan, this serves only as a starting point. Everything from this point is customisable, meaning you can adapt the design to suit your own tastes, adding a personal touch to your new home. Due to the nature of their construction, prefab homes can also be eco-friendly, with opportunities for the implementation of energy-efficient designs and the use of sustainable materials.

In essence, prefab homes can offer a unique combination of affordability, adaptability, and sustainability, making them an enticing option for prospective homeowners.

Kitset Homes: The Thrill of Assembly

Unlike modular and prefab homes that are either entirely or partially built off-site, kitset homes arrive essentially as a ‘flat pack’ of ready-to-assemble components. The prefabricated parts are delivered to the build site where the future homeowners, or hired contractors, can start the exciting task of constructing the house piece by piece.

This do-it-yourself aspect of kitset homes is one of their unique selling points, appealing particularly to those who love the thrill of hands-on building.

However, it’s important to note that Advance Build specialises in transportable and prefab homes and does not provide kitset homes. If you’re keen on the DIY aspect of home building, kitset homes could be an option worth exploring elsewhere. Is there anything Kiwis love more than a DIY project? But remember, this undertaking is a bit more complex than helping a mate build a deck or put up a fence – building a home from a kitset involves considerable time, effort, and skill. Hence, it’s essential to assess your capability and willingness to commit to the project before choosing this route.

Transportable Homes: Ease of Relocation

Transportable homes, as the name directly suggests, are homes that are fully constructed off-site and then transported to their final location. They’re a testament to the marvels of modern construction technology, providing a unique solution that brings together convenience, efficiency, and flexibility.

One of the defining characteristics of transportable homes is that they’re built in a controlled factory environment. This allows for rigorous quality control and meticulous attention to detail, resulting in well-constructed and reliable homes. However, the real point of departure is the fact that these homes are built to be moved. The entire house is assembled in one location and then transported to the homeowner’s site completely intact. This means that the house can be set up and ready to occupy in a shorter duration compared to traditional on-site construction.

Transportable homes offer several advantages. The foremost of these is the ease of relocation. Should you later decide to shift your location, your entire home can shift with you, reducing the need for a total reconstruction or new property purchase. This can result in significant economic and emotional savings, particularly for those who enjoy a change of scenery or need to move for work or family reasons.

Another key benefit is minimal site disruption. Traditional construction work can often cause a significant disturbance to the surrounding environment, not to mention the inconvenience of having construction work happening on your doorstep for months on end. With transportable homes, the majority of the construction takes place off-site. The final placement of the house is all that happens at the final location, causing less disruption to the site and neighbourhood.

In summary, transportable homes offer a unique blend of convenience, efficiency, and flexibility that can be particularly appealing to those with a dynamic lifestyle. At Advance Build, we specialise in constructing high-quality prefabricated transportable homes, tailored to your unique needs and preferences, providing a seamless, stress-free home-building experience.

Considerations for Buyers: Choosing the Right Option for You

Selecting the right type of home for you depends on several factors. It’s crucial to assess your individual needs, preferences, and circumstances before making a decision.

Budget: Your financial resources play a crucial role in determining the type of home you can afford. Prefab and transportable homes, with their factory-built efficiencies, can often provide cost savings compared to traditional on-site construction.

Timeframe: Consider your timeline. If you’re in a rush to move into your new home, prefabricated transportable homes, which can be delivered almost ready to live in, may be an excellent choice. Prefab homes also offer quicker construction times compared to traditional methods. On the other hand, if you’re a DIY enthusiast and have time on your hands, a kitset home might be an interesting, albeit time-consuming, project.

Level of Involvement: Your desired level of involvement in the construction process is another factor. If you enjoy hands-on work and want to be actively involved in building your home, a kitset home could provide that experience. If, however, you prefer to leave the construction work to the professionals, then prefabricated transportable homes would be the better option.

Location Suitability: Lastly, consider the suitability of your chosen type of home for your plot of land. Some locations may have restrictions on certain kinds of builders or buildings. Also, the terrain and accessibility of your plot may impact the feasibility of transporting a prefab or transportable home onto the site.

In the end, the key is to balance these considerations with what you want from your home. Whether it’s the design flexibility of prefab homes, the DIY thrill of kitset homes, or the convenience and mobility of transportable homes – it all comes down to choosing the option that best matches your lifestyle and dreams. At Advance Build, we’re here to help you navigate these decisions and make the best choice for your unique situation.

Advance Build Are New Zealand’s Transportable Prefabricated Homes Experts.

Each of these unique housing solutions – modular, prefab, kitset, and transportable homes – offers its unique characteristics and advantages. Prefab and modular homes provide a perfect blend of efficiency, affordability, and design flexibility, all the while ensuring rigorous quality control as they’re constructed off-site in controlled environments. Kitset homes offer the thrill of hands-on construction for DIY enthusiasts, allowing for that personal touch and connection to your home. Transportable homes bring unparalleled convenience and mobility, enabling you to literally move your home should the need arise, with minimal site disruption and quick setup times.

At Advance Build, we’re specialists in high-quality prefabricated transportable homes. We’re dedicated to guiding you on this journey, providing a seamless, stress-free home-building experience, tailored to your unique needs and preferences. To discuss your future home, reach out to us today! Let’s transform your dream home into a reality.

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