Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I wanted to write about modular homes for a bit this week.  It’s just time.

I always refer to our home as a modular home, but our type of home is also called a prefabricated home.  However, that name has connotations which are not so flattering... Not fair!   Prefab is an abbreviation for prefabricated. The word prefab is often used to describe any type of home that is made from easy-to-assemble building parts that were manufactured off-site.  And, prefabrication isn’t at new concept.  In fact, most everything around us is prefab: the desk you sit at, your printer, even the light on your desk. Prefab simply means an item that is pre-assembled in a factory before the final product gets to you.  It doesn’t mean cheap, it means efficient.  And why not?!  If we pre-assemble most everything, why not pre-assemble homes in a nice, dry environment?

Prefab homes have been around for billions of years, alright, maybe only decades. But, modular housing is incredibly waste-efficient compared to the on-site building processes, which can waste more than 30% of building materials!  I’m not saying, “get out there and hug a tree”, but think about it!

Yesterday I happened to drive by a gigantic landfill.  In the middle of this beautiful countryside, nestled between the fingerlakes, it loomed like a gigantic trash mountain, and quite frankly, it disgusted me.

And rather than overload our landfills even MORE, some architectural firms and design companies are rethinking what prefab means for waste-conscious consumers.  But, before you think you will have to SETTLE if you build a prefab home, modular or prefab home builders combine modular concepts with a customized plan, allowing you, the home builders, to select a basic design and alter it according to your tastes.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, we chose the floor plan of our home and worked on the design room by room. We chose everything from the floor plan, dimensions of the rooms, and ceiling heights, to the flooring, the light fixtures, and the closet inserts. Just like we would have if we built a traditionally built home, BUT, we didn’t add to that huge landfill, and we got exactly what we wanted!

Here’s the only difference from building a traditionally built home:  Once we had a firm idea for the home we wanted, our modular home company outsourced most major construction to the factory, where large portions of our house (walls, beams, flooring, etc.) were assembled. The chunks of house were shipped by truck to our property, where contractors pieced them together quickly - and by quickly, I mean 3 days.

As you can imagine, carefully planned prefab homes make very little waste. Many prefab homes reduce waste to 10% or less, which conserves the environment and saves money for the buyers.

Because homes are factory-made, measurements are precise. Large pieces fit together exactly, and therefore, the house is sealed tightly to conserve energy and potentially save a hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars every year.

(I have to say, the weather is changing rapidly here in CNY, with rain and wind, and we don’t have ANY drafts.) So, that all being said, if you’re thinking of building, please look into modular or prefab homes.  The concept may be new to you, but I think you’ll be love what you see.

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