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Prefab houses: 7 things you need to know before buying yours

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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Planning a new home can be as simple or complicated as you want. When it comes to prefabricated housing, this is truer than ever. The planning process will generally begin with the choice of a construction firm with a basic housing model that has caught your eye. Then you'll need to consider all the variations and options on offer. This is where things can get complicated. The bespoke options are what really make the home your own. There are generally lots of opportunities to expand certain rooms and choose your own finishes to suit. The basic elements of these homes are prepared off-site, so you really need to make all these decisions quite early in the process. The good thing about prefabricated homes is that they are fairly easy to size up and down to suit your building site as well. Of course, these days we have graphic visualisation programs that help you get a very clear idea of the final product as well.

But as with any big project, it's easy to get overwhelmed when considering the project as a whole. So today we have broken down the process of choosing and planning your new prefabricated home into 7 simple steps. We will cover the essentials and hopefully make our readers feel a little inspired too. So let's get started!

1. Costs

Prefabricated homes are incredibly cost-efficient. While most newly built homes run into expensive building delay and unexpected problems, the construction of a prefabricated home almost always runs very close to budget because the entire process is pre-planned off-site with a very high degree of detail. The materials are also prepared and cut in a factory. This means that the on-site construction time is greatly diminished, leading to less weather delays and lower labor costs. Finally, you almost always working with a base model of the home. So the design fees are much lower than normal. All this cost-efficiency might even leave you room to indulge in a few more luxurious details.

2. Time

The average brick home takes at least 90 days to be constructed on site. In comparison, prefab homes can take between just 3-6 weeks. Of course, the time period needed will also be dependent on your building site. These estimates don't include the time needed to level the block and pour the foundation.

This office design is a good example of the beauty, design and delivery speed of this kind of building. It comes to us courtesy of architects Urban Recycle, Salvador (BA). The low-cost materials are lightweight and easily found in the local region. This means that the delivery costs were low and the construction time accelerated.

3. Maintenance

The maintenance of a prefab home is similar to a standard brick home. Electrical appliances are generally good for 5-10 years and the construction materials are no different. However, we should point out that there are newer wooden materials on the market that promise to provide sturdier and more weather resistant benefits than seen in the past. As usual, it always pays to make sure that the raw materials are properly treated to suit the climate of your region. This is particularly so in tropical south-east Asia.

4. Structural materials

The most common material used in prefab homes is wood. The good thing about wood is that it gives even the simplest and most minimalist prefab home lots of natural textures and variation. As mentioned earlier, wood will always need to be treated to avoid mould and damp issues. This is a more pressing issue in modern homes where there are fewer inconsistencies in the construction and gaps for the house to breathe.

Concrete is another popular material that offers lots of visual benefits. These days it's quite popular in a polished finish. It's also quite cooling underfoot and easy to maintain. The biggest benefit in using concrete is its structural strength.

5. Style

Choosing a style for your new home is the fun part. If you are concerned about the cookie-cutter assembly-type look, cast your net wide and do lots of research. Prefabricated housing is a booming industry and there are lots of creative and attractive designs on offer. If you want to slick modern look without spending a whole lot of cash, glass walls are often a good idea. Take advantage of the professional advice you are likely to receive from your construction firm. Then collect clippings of favourite interiors, finalise your design then take a step back. It always pays to take a few days off from the design process and revisit it with fresh eyes before making a final decision.

6. Interior layout

The wall and floor finishes are easy to overlook when contemplating the entire design. But they have a huge impact on how you feel in the living areas and should be given equal consideration. A neutral interior is always a good start because it will tolerate a lot of style changes over time. Natural wood is a good start. It will also infuse your new home with a sense of cosiness and history.

7. Running costs

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Schoolmasters eco house

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An elaborate garden might look great on paper, when it does require a lot of maintenance. The same goes for the landscaping. Consider how much time you really have to maintain your home and choose a style to suit. After all, your new home should not be a burden but a retreat from the world!

For more inspiration, have a look at 10 beautiful and low-cost prefabricated homes.

Are you going through the process of planning a prefab home?
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