Home Sweet Home: Is It Worth Buying a Prefab Home?

Home Sweet Home: Is It Worth Buying a Prefab Home?
  • Opening Intro -

    Did you know over 22 million Americans live in manufactured homes?

    That's a healthy chunk of the American population, making you wonder why they've all chosen to go this route.


Well, there are quite a few reasons. Prefab homes are fast builds; they’re economical; and they come in endless layouts and styles.

People who live in manufactured (modular or prefab) homes are saving a lot in their monthly expenditures and getting to live in strongly-constructed, unique spaces.

With the right plot of land, prefab homeowners can sail off into the sunset with less debt than the average American and more wiggle room to live the kind of life they envision.

So, the question is this: is it worth buying a prefab home? We think the answer is a resounding yes. Let’s put away our tool belts (because all the hard work is done in a factory), pick up our long list of dreams, and discuss the reasons why prefab homes are worth every last dime.

Fewer Restrictions

Sometimes people wonder where prefab homes fit into the picture. You have traditional brick and mortar homes, prefab homes, modular homes, mobile homes, and – now – tiny homes. So, what’s the difference between them all?

Well, prefab homes and modular homes are (essentially) interchangeable terms. A modular home is a type of prefab home; it’s built in modules and then transported in pieces to the building site.

So, prefab or modular homes are constructed in factories before they’re shipped to the building site. That’s the only difference between brick and mortar homes and prefab homes – where they’re built.

Prefabs and traditional homes are also alike because they both have to comply with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) standards. Mobile homes, however, do not have to comply with these codes.

Mobile homes and tiny homes are subject to restrictions because they don’t have a foundation. So, you may find a modern, swoon-worthy tiny home, but will you face zoning restrictions when you go to place it on a plot of land?

Meanwhile, you’re going to have more options with a modular home because it needs to meet those state and local building codes. Who knew zoning laws could actually be a perk?

This is good news because, if you have a plot of land but aren’t sure how to build, then a prefab house is going to take you all the way home.

Of course, we can’t close out this section without a tiny disclaimer. Yes, prefab homes must comply with HUD. So, this automatically elevates them out of a tiny home’s risk territory and into the realm of brick and mortars.

However, some cities aren’t fans of prefab homes. Some place restrictions on the size of the home.

So, if you’ve picked out a fantastic 1,200 sq. ft. manufactured home, but your city only allows homes over 2,000 sq. ft., then you have a tiny pickle on your hands. You may need to increase your budget and go bigger or consider placing your home on land in a more forgiving city.

A Fast Build

Well, if you already have the land secured, then you might be eager to get your future home positioned – and fast. Great news! A prefab home can be brought to you within a matter of days (as opposed to a traditional home’s timeline of many months).

Often, modular homes are delivered with several of the components already in place (i.e., cabinets, flooring, etc.). Typically, the home is brought to your lot and the shell can even be assembled in a day.

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A prefab home is made to be a quick construct. So, you bring the pre-made beauty to you and then add all your bells and whistles thereafter. It’s a win-win situation and not something you have to come to a site and "visit" for months while the construction workers put it together, piece by piece.

An Affordable Option

What’s the most important commodity after time? Well, we think many people would argue money. So, if you’re looking for an alternative style of living that won’t break the bank, we’ve got good news galore on this front.

Prefab builders buy a lot of their materials in bulk. So, right from the start, you’re looking at lower costs because they can (or at least should) lower their profit margin.

After that’s out of the way, the next thing to consider is the square footage. Prefab homes are typically sold per square foot. This makes it less of a guessing game and allows you to start saving.

This also removes modular homes from the real estate games that traditional homes are bound to. For example, there’s no sky-rocketing the price tag on a mediocre home simply because it’s in a great neighborhood. What you see is what you get and it’s going to come with a more affordable price tag, from the ground up.

If you think you’re going to require a loan to build the prefab home of your dreams, then we’ve got even more good news. Often, tiny homes and mobile homes don’t qualify for construction or home loans. This makes the total out-of-pocket expense quite a pill to swallow.

Prefab homes, however, will typically qualify. So, you can maintain monthly payments (that are sure to be far more affordable than a traditional home) and enjoy paying down your ultimate sanctuary with greater ease.

Energy Efficiency

If you’ve been staying up late and reading about how to be more green, then a prefab home is going to seal the deal for you. They’re far more energy-efficient than traditional homes for a number of reasons.

First, they’re typically smaller so, right off the bat, they’re going to use less electricity. Also, the seams on a prefab home are often tighter than those on a traditional home. This will eliminate some of the lost air to help you heat or cool the house more efficiently.

The good news here is that, when the seams are tight in between rooms, you can easily close off one zone to heat or cool another. This, too, will keep the electric bills down if you don’t need to make each and every room temperate at all times.

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Also, it might make you feel good to know that the actual construction of your home was less wasteful than a brick and mortar home. Since everything’s built on-site in a factory, there’s less waste when it comes to construction materials. Many building companies tend to recycle and reuse excess building materials for the next build.

Inspiration Is Easy to Find

Ever since the tiny house movement stepped onto the scene, modular homes had to step up their games. If tiny homes can have loft beds, bathtubs, endless amounts of storage, and granite countertops in their kitchens, then so can modular homes. Enjoy the process because there are so many options to peruse on a daily basis.

You won’t be hard-pressed to browse around online for inspiration. We can easily get lost over on the Acton ADU website where they build beautiful backyard homes with every little detail covered. TinyHouse.com is another favorite. We easily get swept away, thinking about the best sconces, pocket doors, and creative storage ideas for small builds.

Remodeling Is Possible

Some people think the prefab home they get is the prefab home they’ll have for life. But, that’s not true. If you’d like to start with a small, economical build, that might be a great idea. It’ll certainly provide cost savings and gain you instant access to a brand new home.

But, over the course of time, you can certainly remodel or add on to your home. Remember, they were basically assembled like a puzzle in a factory. As such, they can be reconfigured at any time.

Of course, your contractor will need to consider your home’s structural support and layout. And there may be some differences in the structure of the support beams throughout. But, it’s a totally realistic expectation that, someday, you can add a den, office, or castle turret, should you desire.

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Consider Buying a Prefab Home Today

And there you have it! Buying a prefab home sure takes a lot of legwork out of the home-buying process, doesn’t it?

Here at Let’s Renovate, we’re your home improvement magazine and remodeling guide. Whether you’re looking to feng shui your garden, redesign the bathroom, or add an entire addition onto the house, we’re your guys.

Keep coming back to visit us for more news, updates, and inspiration. And, until we meet again, we hope you find the quintessential modular home that you’ll be happy to nestle into for life.

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Image credit: buying a prefab home by envato.com

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