Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Wonderful Confusion of Prefab Housing

It seems like just yesterday when someone mentioned ‘modular home’ that most people thought it meant ‘Mobile Home or Double Wide Trailer’.

The modular housing industry has been fighting this mislabeling for many years with the National Modular Home Association, the only body of builders and factories dedicated to just modular housing, forming a marketing campaign called CAP, the Consumer Awareness Program, to tell people we are NOT double wide trailers.

However even Modcoach is getting confused by all the different types of “modular” construction available today.

First we still have the manufactured housing industry producing modular homes as part of their lineup, hence the original reason so many confuse the two.

Then you have what I call the real modular housing industry which builds a six sided volumetric box of various widths, lengths and shapes all built to the same building codes as site built homes. In fact, modular homes are built to a higher standard than most site built homes.

Then we have shipping containers both new and used being converted into modular houses. These can be configured as stand alone or stacked to form apartment buildings.

Marriott started the rage to build modular hotels a few years ago with other hotel chains following in the trail they blazed. Many traditional modular housing factories turned to building modular hotels during the housing downturn to keep their production lines running and have never looked back.

Another housing segment calling themselves modular are tiny houses both on wheels (THOW) or built like garden sheds and dropped into the backyards of homes in certain cities. These are called ADUs (Auxiliary Dwelling Units).

The media, both social and national, along with every housing industry expert are now referring to everything from windows to modular hotels as “Prefabricated”. No longer does the general population call any type of construction by its unique nomenclature but rather they call it all “Prefab” and lumping all types of off-site construction into that term with the exception of true site built homes and even they use a lot of prefabricated parts.

Enter panelization companies like Entekra, Blueprint Robotics and Katerra that used to build “panels and trusses” calling themselves prefabricated and soon “Modular” will become just a bit player in the overall off-site construction business.

And let’s not forget all those log home factories, SIP manufacturers and concrete structures that used to enjoy being their own niche market and are lumped into that Prefab label as well.

Light Gauge Steel homes and commercial projects are also included in the Prefab world.

OMG!, the entire off-site construction industry from manufactured homes to modular homes to panelized homes is now prefab.

I for one think this is happening because housing consultants, lecturers and experts are beginning to look at housing in its entirety and it really doesn’t matter what form that housing takes as long as it fills the housing needs of the buyer.

Not sure when this shift from individual types of construction to the generic “Prefab” housing took place but it’s here to stay.

1 comment:

Bill Hart said...

Trailers, coaches, mobile homes, double wides, manufactured homes
Prefab, kit homes, panelized homes, now calling em prefabs again.. is cool
Double wides, modulars. Modular homes, volumetric prefabs