What’s the Difference?
Unlike a traditional home that is built on your plot of land, a prefab home is built in a factory and transported to the homeowner’s lot in sections. Do not confuse a prefab home with a trailer. A prefab home is placed on a foundation, meaning it can have a basement and a trailer cannot.
Because prefab homes can be built in one state and sold by a dealer in another, they are regulated by national codes. When you build a home, you are subject to local ordinances. What does this mean for you? Local codes take into account things like the need for additional protection for things like tornadoes and heavy snows.
Most people think that a traditional home will take longer to build than a pre-fab home. However, a prefab home is not necessarily finished at a quicker rate because of long factory lead times. Completion of either type of home is dependent upon a number of factors with the biggest being your builder. One advantage to a prefab home is that it is built indoors, making its timeline less affected by the weather than a traditional home. If you’re deciding between a prefab builder and a traditional contractor, be sure to get a definitive answer on the timeline between the start date and move in date.
Prefab homes are built in a factory and come in template designs with the ability for you to select options such as cabinets, flooring and countertops from the company’s catalog. An advantage to working with a builder is that your home can come with more customized options especially when it comes to layout and homes with multiple levels.
If you’re looking at placing your prefab home on a lot that is controlled by a homeowner’s association or developer, you need to check to see whether they have rules against it. While a HOA may have rules about colors or styles of roofing, siding, gutters, etc. you will likely have fewer hoops to jump through with a conventional home as opposed to a prefab home.
One of the largest reasons that a consumer chooses a prefab home over a traditional one is belief that a prefab home costs less money. The prefab industry is continuously coming out with new innovations which benefit consumers who wish to inject their personal taste into their homes. Prefab homes come with a different set of expenses that traditional homes don’t have such as delivery, overhead and crane fees. Because each circumstance is different, we encourage you to get estimates from both traditional contractors and pre-fab companies to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Ask questions if you don’t understand something in the estimate and be sure to ask whether the bid includes everything or if they project additional expenses.
Being cognizant of your carbon footprint, especially on a project this large, is the socially and environmentally responsible thing to do. While a number of companies, both traditional and prefab, claim to be environmentally friendly, it’s important to do some homework. Is the company you’re working with using high quality insulation, windows, roofing and siding? Spending a little extra upfront can often save you in the future with a longer shelf life and reduced energy costs. Consider that area companies will use less fuel than those traveling from greater distances and the fuel used to transport something as significant as a home. Do your homework and select an option that makes the most sense for your situation.
It’s short-sighted not to consider the cost of insuring your new home when deciding whether to go with traditional or prefab. As a general rule, prefab homes have higher insurance premiums. The reasoning is that prefab homes are likelier to suffer damage from storms, fire and frozen pipes. As mentioned above, prefab homes are subject to national building codes which are less stringent than local ones.