So often the discussion can be heard of prefab vs modular, but what’s the difference? Modular homes are prefabricated homes – with prefab being an umbrella term for anything that is created offsite. The next discussion is kit homes vs modular. While some include kit homes in this group, that really isn’t correct. Kit homes are primarily created by all materials being delivered on site in an unconstructed form. So to close the arguments down, let’s agree that what we have here are in fact prefab modular homes.
Although seen as concept created after the two world wars, in an effort to quickly and cost effectively replace destroyed housing (and prepare for the imminent bay boom that follows war), the concept in fact dates back to Roman days when prefabricated fort sections were mass produced and delivered to distant locations.
However, the reputation of poorly created homes with tissue paper for walls that evolved from the post war eras has taken decades to shake off. Now the industry, facilitated by rapidly evolving digital technologies is at the forefront of building production, with a vast number of floor plans to choose from and delivery available in NSW, Victoria, Perth and QLD – and one imagines Tasmania and the territories can just as easily be reached.
Ecologically conscious consumers have become very concerned with the sustainability of all building materials, and of industrial waste. Combined with the concept of building smaller homes, the modular industry, which has responded to each concern, is experiencing a boom in demand.
With extraordinary building times, (there’s an average 12-week turnaround from completion of design to having a crane arrive onsite), consumers’ “I want it now” appetites are quickly satisfied.
Plus of course the system also allows top quality builds to be delivered to areas that do not have supply of top tradies, and protects buyers from weather affected time tables. It must be very hard for a standard home builder to compete with the low price modular homes.
The digital technology used in designing the homes, continues into the production line with faultless material preparation resulting in minimum waste in materials, and a reduced use of energy in the process.
Which brings us to the modular home cost. One producer, Tektum reports that there are savings of between 10 to 15 percent in building costs and a 40 percent reduction in construction time.
No wonder it is now recognized that affordable modular homes are a force of good to be encouraged.
Earlier this year the Australian Federal Government announced a $2m development budget to allocated to a new collaborative lab to help manufacturers design innovative new prefabricated buildings
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said “This sector is starting to build significant momentum and currently represents 3-5 per cent of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry,” Minister Andrews said.
"This share could grow to 15 per cent by 2025, creating 20,000 new Australian jobs and adding $30 billion to our economy.”