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Modular vs. prefabricated housing, what are the differences?

Discover in this post the five main differences between a modular home and a prefabricated home.

Modular vs. prefabricated housing, what are the differences?
Written by:
Ricardo Dominguez
Modular houses

As we said in this other post post about modular houses, the term modular and prefabricated is often used interchangeably. However, it is a mistake, because they are not the same. To clarify it, we have prepared this post in which we show you the 5 major differences between a modular house and a prefabricated house.

Main differences between modular homes and prefabricated homes

This confusion is explained by an important similarity between the two: most of the construction process of the house is carried out in an industrial building, to be later moved to the final site, where it will be installed after the adaptation of the land and foundation works. But beyond this common feature, the differences between one and the other are remarkable, as we explain here.

Prefabrication without modular design.

As we said in the aforementioned post, a modular house is "a house formed by a housing module or by the union of several of them". This union makes its structure more flexible and adaptable. However, a prefabricated house does not necessarily have to be modular. In fact, the most common is that it only has a single module, to which others cannot be joined as an extension. Therefore, even if the prefabricated house opts for a fairly simple and regular volume, it is not designed to accept more modules.

2. Prefabrication as mass production.

Prefabricated houses respond to a mass production concept. In other words, a specific number of houses are built to the same pattern and then stored in a compound until a buyer comes along. Modular homes, on the other hand, are manufactured only when the customer has approved the project. In other words, prefabricated houses are designed and manufactured without taking into account the place where they will be located, so that their integration into their surroundings is not always the most satisfactory.

3. Prefabrication without the possibility of customization.

Prefabricated houses can be compared to most consumer goods on the market: you find them in the store, you compare them and, in the end, you choose the one you like the most, but without the possibility of modifying its characteristics, since it has already been manufactured. Modular houses, on the other hand, allow their owner to modify spaces, finishes, distribution, etc. They are designed with computer tools that allow to add elements not initially foreseen and to recreate the final result in a virtual way. In this way, variations can be made to integrate porches, enlarge rooms, increase the number of accesses and bathrooms, etc.

4. Difference between prefabricated and modular uses.

This is not a difference 'a priori' but 'a posteriori': prefabricated houses are usually preferred for non-residential use, while modular houses can be converted into a dwelling. A common purpose of prefabricated houses is to serve as a bungalow or temporary accommodation for camping and other tourist areas. In contrast, a modular home is designed, manufactured, assembled and finished with the intention of serving as a long-term home or second home.

5. The quality of the materials.

This fourth difference between a modular house and a prefabricated house is actually an unwritten rule that is usually followed: prefabricated houses are made with lower quality materials and, therefore, less durability. This is precisely to facilitate the manufacturing process: it is common to use PVC, plastic finishes or wood substitutes. On the other hand, modular houses usually opt for more durable materials, precisely because they are conceived as constructions that will serve as a permanent home or, at least, as a second residence for many years. Steel, quality wood with advanced treatments or double glazing are just some of the details that can make the difference.

As you can see, these differences between a modular house and a prefabricated house place the former as a higher quality solution. That is why in Tini we opt for them, but without abandoning the main advantage of manufacturing in an industrial building. That is why we also use the term industrialized modular house to refer to our tinis. If you want to know more about the many possibilities of modular architecture, take a look at our website: we can design your future home to measure and very quickly.

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