What Is Modular Home Construction?

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    In this piece, we talk to 16 firms providing what are variously referred to as "prefabricated," "factory," and "offsite" building services. We prioritised those that cater to homes, with features like renewable materials, low production costs, and excellent energy ratings. A brief overview is provided below. Please see the attached documents for more information on the services provided by each company, such as unit costs, lockup durations, and illustrative examples of their work.

    Modular And Prefabricated Homes


    what is modular home construction (3)The steel structure and modular design are distinguishing features of this building. Since its founding more than a decade later, Modscape has experienced a shift in its clientele, with the majority of its projects now being delivered to urban centres. Modscape is the only provider of structural modules capable of offering turnkey solutions, such as internal fit-out, gardening, solar + batteries systems, wastewater treatment, and more. In keeping with its commitment to sustainability, the company has begun using recyclable steel frames in 90% of its projects as part of its "closed loop" strategy.

    Ecoliv Buildings

    Ecoliv Buildings has been operating for more than 10 years, with headquarters in the provincial Victorian town of Wonthaggi and with project delivery around Australia. The concept is founded entirely on eco-friendliness. A combination of passive solar design, less construction waste, and integrated systems are just some of the ways the company claims its homes save money and the environment. Modular, prefabricated building is at the heart of its method, which is designed to maximise productivity. Ecoliv homes are pre-wired for solar energy and hot water, have energy-efficient lighting, and can store up to 10,000 litres of rainwater.

    Prebuilt and Pleysier Perkins

    A pioneer in the Australian module and prefab business, Prebuilt has been around since 2003. Sixty percent of Prebuilt's current business is in the corporate world, but the company still manages to finish roughly eighteen residential projects across Australia every year by working with clients and architects on both predesigned and custom home plans. Sydney's sometimes challenging sites and stringent planning regulations have increased the need for bespoke designs. The organisation deploys a modular system, custom-built to meet the needs of each individual construction job. The modules have a steel framework with a timber exterior. Kilsyth, Victoria's factory is also where waterproofing, cladding, utilities, and inside fit-out are finished.

    Prebuilt's beautiful designs aren't only eye-catching; they're also eco-friendly, thanks to efficient energy systems. They have built about 300 houses since their founding in 2002. Downsizers and those looking for vacation homes make up their clientele, and because Prebuilt is known for doing interesting work remotely, the owners don't have to waste time managing the construction process. Construction typically takes twelve weeks and costs anywhere from $bacteria . the bacteria to $2 million.


    When it comes to modular home construction, Archiblox is capable of completing between 40 and 60 projects each year, depend on the mix of custom and "smart" designs. Since we have an in-house architect and construction manager, our innovative designs allow for significant savings in both time and money. 11 "smart designs" have been provided by Archiblox. Modular construction allows for easy adaptation to the needs of the customer and the site, with particular focus on maximising solar thermal design and maximising views without sacrificing energy efficiency.


    While building, Arkit favours a panelized, modular approach. Which method is employed depends on what is thought to produce the best results in that particular location.

    FAQs About Modular Home Construction

    So often, the discussion can be heard of prefab vs modular, but what's the difference? Modular homes are prefabricated homes – with prefab being an umbrella term for anything created offsite. The next discussion is kit homes vs modular. While some include kit homes in this group, that isn't correct. Kit homes are primarily created by all materials delivered onsite in an unconstructed form. So to close the arguments down, let's agree that what we have here is prefab modular homes.

    Although seen as a concept created after the two world wars to quickly and cost-effectively replace destroyed housing (and prepare for the imminent bay boom that follows war), the concept dates back to Roman days when prefabricated fort sections were mass-produced and delivered to distant locations.

    Modular homes cost between $2500 and $3000 per square metre, but this cost will vary depending on many factors. Prices for a complete kit home start from around:

    • $114,000 for an 85m2 home
    • $148,000 for a 152m2 home
    • $219,000 for a 205m2 home

    Construction methods are changing as builders look for more affordable ways to build. If you're looking to save on your new home, a modular home can be a cost-effective option. However, if you're considering a prefabricated home, you might be confused by some of the terminologies and want to know how much a modular home costs. 

    However, the reputation of poorly created homes with tissue paper for walls that evolved from the post-war eras has taken decades to shake off. The industry, facilitated by rapidly evolving digital technologies, is at the forefront of building products, with a vast number of floor plans to choose from and delivery available in NSW, Victoria, Perth and QLD – and one imagines Tasmania the territories can just as easily be reached.

    Ecologically conscious consumers have become very concerned with all building materials and industrial waste sustainability. Combined with the concept of building smaller homes, the modular industry, which has responded to each concern, is experiencing a boom in demand. With extraordinary building times (there's an average 12-week turnaround from completion of design to having a crane arrive onsite), consumers' "I want it now" appetites are quickly satisfied. The system also allows top-quality builds to be delivered to areas that do not have a supply of top tradies and protects buyers from weather-affected timetables. It must be very hard for a standard home builder to compete with low-priced modular homes.

    The digital technology used in designing the homes continues into the production line with faultless material preparation resulting in minimum waste in materials and reduced energy use, which brings us to the modular home cost. One producer, Tektum, reports savings of between 10 to 15 per cent in building costs and a 40 per cent reduction in construction time. No wonder it is now recognised that affordable modular homes are a force of good to be encouraged.

    The Australian Federal Government announced a $2m development budget allocated to a new collaborative lab to help manufacturers design innovative new prefabricated buildings. This sector is starting to build significant momentum and currently represents 3-5 per cent of Australia's $150 billion construction industry.

    Building from the ground up onsite is expensive, time-consuming and inefficient. By contrast, a factory-built home can be delivered to a site and completed quickly and more affordably since labour costs will be reduced significantly. Some modular homes cost about the same as conventionally built homes but are constructed half the time. Compared to traditional construction, modular home benefits include:

    • Lower building cost
    • Shorter construction time
    • Quality control at all stages

    Transportable: you may be able to move your home to a new location

    While you won't have all the flexibility of a custom build, you will still find a degree of customisation in sizes and interior and exterior finishes to suit your taste.

    This is a common question for anyone considering resale or investment property. Modular homes are appraised similarly to traditional homes and can be ideal candidates for investment properties. In addition, prefab modular homes are compact and low maintenance making them a great investment for either permanent or holiday homes.

    Like conventionally constructed homes, modular homes fall under the same planning and permit requirements as any building. All homes do require building permits, which are issued by building surveyors or certifiers. The requirements of a Town Planning or Development Approval will depend on the state you reside in and the specific requirements of your site.

    There are three primary materials used in modern modular construction: wood, steel, and concrete or cement.

    Habitech Systems

    Based on a combined panel system for walls and roofs, Habitech Systems has designed environmentally friendly construction materials. Chris Barnett, an architect, founded the company in 2008 to provide comprehensive architectural design services with an emphasis on energy efficiency and comfortable indoor environments. Habitech employs a burgeoning group of regional constructors to carry out its projects by means of the SIPs it manufactures, all of which feature an integrated cladding system. The technical aspects of the Habitech construction system are in sync with the Passivhaus norm, and the company also collaborates with other architects. Habitech's primary market is the southern states of Australia, but it has established relationships with New Zealand construction companies to sell its wares there as well.


    System for constructing buildings out of prefabricated panels; manufacturer of building envelopes for contractors and homeowners.

    The Australian firm Carbonlite manufactures a prefabricated wooden wall, floor, and roof system known as panelling. Burkhard Hansen, head of Carbonlite, has extensive experience in prefabrication on a global scale and certification as a Passivhaus builder. In 2015, he debuted Panellite, a modular panelized system applicable to any design and capable of meeting the stringent performance requirements of the Passivhaus standard. Also, the firm typically offers blower door and vacuum testing for finalised projects. Carbonlite's primary focus is producing high-quality building shells of builders and homeowners, while company does offer design and construction services.

    Makers of Architecture

    what is modular home construction (2)Makers Fabrication, an architecture and building firm situated in Wellington, New Zealand, employs a team of designers that share their knowledge and expertise to efficiently develop unique ideas utilising digital tools and CNC machines. The Warrender Studio exemplifies the 'CLT with sheathing cassette' system, which was designed to make the most of Makers' design and fabrication technologies, but Makers can work with a wide variety of building methods. The outer CLT panels have pre-routed slots to accommodate the insulation, service cables, and fibreglass sheet cladding that is manufactured offsite and then attached to the CLT panels. The surface of the sheeting cassettes is then joined to a timber "rain screen," which serves as the building's final skin.


    Habitat is a company with only five employees and a little facility in both Hobart and Melbourne. Rather than using generic floorplans, we tailor every structure we create to the specific requirements of our clients and the unique characteristics of each individual site. The system was designed with passive solar principles in mind, and only low-embodied-energy components were used. Enables construction to go quickly, cutting down on time spent by workers on-site by as much as 40%. In contrast to traditional methods, our modular system requires no custom cutting and instead makes use of readily available, low-cost components. Because of this, both the inside and exterior cladding may simply be 'plugged' into the frame. The system is designed to minimise the amount of floor space it occupies, and it features numerous ingenious built-in storage and spatially solutions.


    Ecoshelta is a prefabricated modular building practise with studios in Sydney and Hobart that specialises in architectural design. For over 30 years, it has produced tiny, prefabricated buildings using solid timber frame, manufactured timber parts, steel, and, most recently, marine grade structured aluminium alloy. The business places a premium on technology, and its goods reflect that by incorporating components like composite panels and 3D printing into its product line. In addition, it offers a comprehensive raw materials life cycle analysis using the company's own 'EcoCost' environmental costing technique.

    Impresa House

    In October 2016, Impresa House launched a facility in Derrimut, Victoria, to provide precisely cut panelized prefab homes to the greater Melbourne area. It provides an integrated solution that includes concept, project management, and fit-out, and it can work to a client's existing design. Timber-framed panels are reinforced by particleboard board (OSB) in the company's system, which also includes insulation, exterior cladding, and pre-wired and pre-plumbed water and electrical systems. Even though we use common, everyday materials, everything is precisely cut with computer numerical control (CNC) equipment for a high level of accuracy. The meticulous fit of each component results in less heating and cooling demands, more efficiency, and fewer air changes each hour.

    MAAP House

    Sustainable and affordable design were key to the development of MAAP House. Modern is what the company strives to give. Exceptional prefabricated homes that can be installed on any Australian lot. It makes use of a hybrid flat-pack modular technology that can meet aspect, budget, and pliability in floor plan ideas and choices.

    MODE Homes

    Using a proprietary folding assembly technology, MODE allows for homes to be primarily created off-site, then easily transported and set up at the site. Delivering traditional modular buildings is too expensive, thus this approach was designed to address that problem.

    Mode Houses offers an alternative approach. Mode Homes uses a fold-up, fold-down building method rather than shipping prefabricated pods to the construction site. Their proprietary method, demonstrated in video form on their website, involves folding the floor's subfloor into a suitcase shape before transporting it to the construction site. The additional prefab components are fastened to the frame once it has been unfolded. Because of this, they require more work to be done on-site than other prefabs, but they provide a much wider variety of basic design choices.

    Nailing down a pricing with so many unknowns is difficult, but they claim that the vast majority of their residential development come out to around $2,800-$3,000 (plus GST) per square metre.

    Fairweather Homes

    Since 1982, Fairweather Building has been constructing and delivering modular homes all around Australia and the rest of the world. The "smart" low-risk approach to economical construction is used to create architect-designed sustainable structures. Fairweather's off-site, component-based fabrication employs renewable, locally sourced energy sources.

    St locally sourcedrine Environments

    Strine Environments' architect Ric Butt has spent the better part of three decades perfecting a novel approach to offshore prefabricated modular construction. As an alternative to conventional lightweight, thermally inefficient kit home goods, this concept merges architectural design with reinforced concrete and environmentally conscious construction to create climate-proof homes. The modular prefabrication units are meant to be transported via truck. E-adaptability Cubed's comes from its usage of utility and space modules.


    In Australia, 16 companies offer prefab and modular construction with advantages such use of sustainable materials, low production costs, and high efficiency ratings. Turnkey solutions, including interior fit-out, gardening, solar + battery systems, wastewater treatment, and more, are available from no other structural module vendor but Modscape. Ecoliv Buildings has been serving the Australian construction industry for over a decade, managing projects from its Wonthaggi headquarters and elsewhere in the country. With 60% of its current business coming from the corporate world, Prebuilt and Pleysier Perkins is a leader in the Australian module and prefab business. Kilsyth uses a modular approach that is tailored to the specifics of each building project.

    Elegant and sustainable, Prebuilt has constructed 300 homes since 2002. Whereas Arkit is more panelized and modular, Archiblox specialises in individualised and "smart" layouts. Habitech Systems creates green building materials, and Carbonlite Systems makes prefab panels and building skins. These firms all offer extensive architectural design services, and they all prioritise environmental friendliness and comfort for their clients. Australian company Carbonlite produces panelling, a prefabricated hardwood wall, floor, and roof solution.

    Panellite, a panelized modular system suitable for any design and capable of achieving the rigors performance standards of the Passivhaus standard, was introduced in 2015. Habitat is a small business (just five people strong) with offices in Hobart and Melbourne. Each building is customised to meet the needs of the client and take advantage of the site's natural features. Makers Fabrication is a Wellington, New Zealand architecture and construction company staffed by designers who use digital tools and CNC equipment to efficiently develop original concepts. Making use of Makers' design and fabrication capabilities, the Warrender Studio is an example of the 'CLT with sheathing cassette' system, but Makers can employ a wide range of construction techniques. Ecoshelta is an architectural practise that specialises in designing prefabricated modular buildings. They have offices in both Sydney and Hobart.

    Built with a solid wood frame, manufactured wood components, steel, and most recently, marine grade structural aluminium alloy. With the purpose of supplying the wider Melbourne area with precisely cut panelized prefab homes, Impresa House opened a plant in Derrimut, Victoria. MAAP House is a low-cost, eco-friendly option that can be built on any Australian property. The MODE Houses hybrid flat-pack modular technology is adaptable in terms of cost, space requirements, and design flexibility. The subfloor is folded up like a suitcase and transported to the building site using the fold-up, fold-down process that is used by Mode Homes.

    Architect-designed, environmentally friendly buildings are constructed using Fairweather Building's "smart," low-risk approach to cost-effective building. Strine Environments' climate-proof modular homes are built with an innovative new method of offshore prefabrication. The flexibility of E-adaptability Cube is derived from the incorporation of both space and utility modules.

    Content Summary

    • We spoke with 16 companies offering "prefabricated," "factory," and "offsite" building services for this article.
    • We gave preference to the residential products that use renewable resources, have minimal production costs, and have high energy ratings.
    • The attractive layouts of prefab homes aren't just for show; they also help the environment by making smart use of available resources.
    • Depending on the proportion of custom and "smart" designs, Archiblox can complete 40-60 projects annually in the modular home construction industry.
    • Habitech Systems has developed eco-friendly building materials based on a novel wall and roof panel technology.
    • Panelling, a prefabricated wooden wall, floor, and roof system, is produced by the Australian company Carbonlite.
    • Ecoshelta is an architectural practise that specialises in designing prefabricated modular buildings. They have offices in both Sydney and Hobart.
    • Impresa House opened a factory in Derrimut, Victoria in October 2016 to supply the greater Melbourne area with precisely cut panelized prefab homes.
    • Superb prefab houses that may be set up on any Australian plot.
    • Modernist Homes in a New Way.
    • Instead of transporting modular pods to the site, Mode Homes uses a fold-up, fold-down method of construction.
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