Increasingly time poor and price sensitive, Australians have been looking for alternative methods for home building for over a decade. There are several approaches that can be taken, including building a Modular home or Kit of Parts (Kit) home. Modular and Kit Homes are designed using a dFMA approach (Design for Manufacture and Assembly). Here, we will help you uncover the differences between building a Modular home vs building a Kit home so you can clearly compare these alternative home types side by side.
A Modular home, also known as a prefabricated home, can be defined as a building that is mostly constructed in sections off-site. These ‘modules’ are then brought to site and connected together to form the finished house structure.
Modular homes have come a long way over the past two decades. This can be attributed to the increase in builders offering architecturally designed solutions and with that, reducing the stigma around Modular homes looking like dated old portable buildings.
Modular homes have lots of flexibility when it comes to their design these days, leading to their growing popularity. Typically a modular home will start as an architecturally designed concept, created as a 3D model with floor-plans, exterior elevations and window schedules.
From this, finer details such as joinery layouts, fixtures and finishes, lighting and electrical and heating and cooling are defined, and construction drawings are produced.
Construction of each ‘module’ will be undertaken off-site, typically in a controlled environment such as a Factory facility. The frames of Modular homes are generally built with steel frames and sustainable construction materials. These are generally completed within 12-14 weeks. Modules are then transported to their final destination on-site, installed and final finishing work will typically be completed within a month.
The benefits of modular building are vast, which is why this approach in building homes has seen significant growth in popularity and is forecasted to grow by 7.5% over the next 5 years.
As Modular homes are constructed in a factory off-site, they can be much quicker to build than a traditional home. The typical build time for a modular home is 12-14 weeks, with the installation of the building only taking 1 day on average. This brings many bonuses such as less disruption on-site. If you are demolishing the existing dwelling you can do this much later than scheduled, meaning you can save on renting costs.
are built in a controlled environment, where quality inspections are carried out during each stage of the build to immediately rectify any issues. Because of this thorough approach, you can rest assured that your home is meeting high quality standards and other relevant building regulations.
Building in an undercover factory means that construction of your home will not be delayed due to the weather. All materials are stored in a dry, clean and secure location to then be assembled on-site when suitable.
Using Building Information Modelling (BIM), the exact amount of materials required for a project can be ordered. This means you won’t need to worry about over or under ordering materials for your home, saving you money and reducing wastage.
Modular building doesn’t rely on traditional building materials such as concrete or brick. With a steel frame and base, the typical materials used on modular buildings are light weight such as timber. Modular builders such as Prebuilt undertake bulk procurement and recycle any wastage to approved recyclers.
Kit homes are another alternative to traditional home buildings, where all the necessary materials are bundled together, pre-cut and ready to be assembled on site. While all of the materials and components are completed to their specifications, the majority of the build is completed on-site.
Depending on the supplier, a kit home may go through pre-concept design if it is custom, however most of the time kit homes are pre-designed.
Upon selecting a home with required customisation, all components are pre-cut off-site in a factory facility. Following this, typically a flatpack with all of these separate components is delivered to the construction site. Each of the pieces will require construction from an owner-builder or employed licensed builder. The construction process is quite varied from home to home, depending on the size, complexity, and style that is chosen.
While not as prevalent as Modular homes, kit homes are also on the rise as a popular building alternatives for homes across Australia.
Engaging in a kit home construction can be a more cost-effective method for building a new home when compared to traditional construction methods. With a lot of time, effort and money eliminated from architectural design, and the feasibility to self manage construction, it can be more cost effective for many owner builders.
Similarly to Modular homes, having materials cut off-site makes sure there’s less wastage occurring during the build. Depending on the supplier, there’s generally the option to opt for more sustainable materials through construction.
While both kit homes and Modular homes also utilise off-site construction methods, there are a few key differences between the two.
As mentioned, kit homes will have materials pre-cut and then delivered as a package to site ready for delivery. While Modular homes also have materials pre-cut off site, they are built as complete modules. The finishings of these completed sections are carried out in a controlled environment, and typically will have quality control standards to meet. A kit home’s construction is entirely undergone on-site, and the quality lies more-so with those completing the build.
With the majority of the build being prefabricated off-site for modular homes, delivery is turned around as fast as 12-14 weeks. While a kit home’s components can be turned around fast, the actual construction and assembly still requires time to build, and is reliant on contractor availability, weather conditions and other site preparations.
A kit home definitely requires more hands-on work, with homeowners or an employed contractor needing to coordinate the build and follow instructions and plans once all the prefabricated materials arrive. This can work for some people, but should be a significant consideration for those who may not be wanting something that is more labour intensive for themselves.
If you are close to making your decision between a kit home and a Modular home, here are a few more key considerations to take into account.
If you are on a tight deadline and need a home turned around promptly, then a Modular home is going to be a much faster option for building. Kit homes are dependent on more factors, with a bulk of construction taking place on-site.
While a lot of the grunt work is taken away from building with a kit home, it is important to be aware that careful planning, coordination, understanding local requirements and adhering to building codes and regulations needs to be considered. This can be a more difficult option for those without much prior experience. While owner builders can reduce the cost around 30%, the involvement is much greater.
When it comes to customisation, there’s definitely a level of degree available for both kit homes and modular. However, Modular homes will generally offer a much higher level of design flexibility, with modules being rearranged and reconfigured as required. Depending on how set you are with certain customisation elements, either could be a viable option.
Both Modular homes and kit homes have grown fast in demand and popularity over the last few years in Australia. Modular homes offer a streamlined building process, that delivers a home to high quality standards in as little as 12-14 weeks. Kit homes on the other hand provide more cost savings but are much more labour intensive, and suitable for some types of owner builders.
At the end of the day, it completely depends on what your building preferences are from customisation, building timelines, skill levels and desired involvement as to which is the right option. Prebuilt are proud to offer both pre designed and customised modular homes across Australia. If you think a Modular home might be the right fit for what you’re looking for, then get in touch with our team today to see how your dream home can become a reality.