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Prefab Construction? Don’t Call It a Mobile Home

The industry has been fighting mobile-home thinking. With pre-fab, the entire home is built onsite after 50%-80% of individual elements are constructed offsite.

NEW YORK – When you hear “prefab,” you may think double-wide mobile home. It’s a misconception the industry keeps trying to clear up.

Some luxury homes are prefab, a type of construction method, and even more prefab options are stretching into the high-end market, combining quicker construction timelines with ultra-luxury touches.

The main difference in site-built vs. prefab homes relies on the place of construction. Most prefab home elements are built offsite in a factory, delivered to a home site, and assembled faster than a traditional stick-built house. About 50% to 80% of the construction of a prefab home is done offsite.

Demand for luxury modular homes has increased during the pandemic. Method Homes, a prefab manufacturer, reported that sales in 2020 were up by 50% compared to 2019 sales.

Modular homes – often with a contemporary design – can be customized and are fetching higher price tags. Joseph Tanney, the founder of Resolution: 4 Architecture in New York City, designed a seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom modular home in Bridgehampton, N.Y., that sold in September 2020 for $4.7 million. The home included a pool, pool house, decking, geothermal and solar power systems, and green roof.

Brian Abramson, co-founder and CEO of Method Homes, told The Wall Street Journal that a high-end custom 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot traditional stick-built home could take 16 to 18 months to build. A modular home of a similar size could take less than a year.

Source: “Prefab, But Make It Luxury: Modular Homes Can Be High End Too,” The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 16, 2021) [Log-in required.]

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