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What is a Modular Home?

I was recently asked this question and it made me realise that the answer is fraught with misconceptions.


I’ll do my best to give a clear explanation that can be easily understood by those without experience in the building industry.  I’ll also outline the differences between kit homes and modular homes.
The modular homes industry developed from donga style mining units being modified to be small homes installed in caravan parks. They were very basic and were pretty much made from the same materials as caravans in the 1970s and 1980s. To get approval with council, these homes needed to be classed as relocatable homes and have axles, tyres and a draw bar to resemble onsite caravans. Once setup, these homes were rarely moved again. That was the way that cabins in caravan parks originated. Hence the terms relocatable homes and transportable homes were penned.


Much has changed since then. The products used to construct and finish modular homes today are drastically different to those products used in the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, contemporary modular homes offer the same level of finish as a project home. Modular homes have some major advantages though. They are built far stronger than traditionally built homes to handle the transport aspect and the level of finish is often of higher quality due to the factory construction process – as the homes are under daily supervision. Modular homes builders also have better buying power than a traditional builder due to the ability to buy in bulk, as well as servicing regional clients, which means the modular homes often come standard with many inclusions that would usually be an extra cost.


Modular homes, prefabricated homes and premanufactured homes, are the more modern terms, and can be defined as homes that comprise of transport size modules that make up a variety of different home designs. Granny flats range from 1 -2 modules, whereas 3 – 5 bedroom homes range from 2 to 5 modules. These modules are transported to your site fully complete with light fittings, tiling, floor coverings and even the kitchen sink!  Due to the fact that modules are designed to be transported by road and only take up a single lane, we are able to transport by day which reduces costs by NOT requiring police escorts. It’s a fascinating experience putting the pieces together to create your modular home.


So how do kit homes differ to modular homes? Kit homes are exactly that, a kit made up of many pieces requiring assembly. It can be likened to the experience of buying and assembling IKEA furniture.  You select your furniture, buy it in a kit made up of many parts and use the instructions to assemble the furniture. With kit homes, you select the floor plan you desire, you are supplied with working engineered drawings and all the materials required to construct the home to lockup. You then need to engage a builder to assemble, or you need to complete an owner builder’s course. This is not for the faint hearted as you need to project manage the entire process including council, building and plumbing approvals as well as a multitude of tradesmen to ensure they do a satisfactory job and do not overcharge.

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