What is a Modular Home? A Complete Beginner’s Guide
A modular home is a residential structure that is prefabricated in an assembly line factory or another manufacturing site, and is designed to eventually be transported to a permanent location. Modular and relocatable homes come in a lot of different styles and have a couple of distinguishing features.
What Makes a Modular Home Different?
If you’re new to the entire relocatable home or tiny home movement, you probably have a lot of questions.
Believe it or not, modular buildings have existed in Australia for a very long time. One of the most beautiful examples is the Corio Villa, a stunning modular building that was prefabricated in Edinburgh and assembled in Geelong, Victoria in 1856. This historical landmark is as glorious now as it was almost 160 years ago — a testament to the strength and elegance of modular homes.
Modular and relocatable homes are legitimate housing options for aspiring homeowners who prefer to not go through the laborious process of a home construction project, or wade through the complexities of buying a prebuilt house.
However, before we even get to the pros of owning a portable house, we first need to address the most common questions.
Is a Modular Home a Trailer?
No. In Australia, a trailer is a type of manufactured home. Manufactured homes are not fixed to a single place; these homes are designed to be transportable and relocatable. Modular homes, on the other hand, are built to be permanent: once the home has reached its spot, the structure is set up on a foundation.
Can a Modular Home be Moved?
No. Once a modular home is set up, it’s designed to be permanent. If you need a home that can move with you, a demountable home or relocatable home on wheels might be your best bet.
Are Tiny Homes and Modular Homes the Same?
A modular home can be a tiny home (and vice versa), depending on where it’s built and whether it has wheels. According to the Australian Tiny House Association,
“Tiny houses are moveable dwellings up to 50m2 that are suitable for residential use. Tiny houses can be grouped into two categories: on wheels or on skids.”
Tiny houses on skids are permanent.
Modular Homes vs. Stick Built Homes
“Stick-built” is another term for the traditional way of building a house: on a sturdy foundation, starting from the wooden frames built piece by piece. Modular and relocatable homes are the opposite of stick-built homes, since the parts of a modular home are pre-fabricated in a manufacturing site, delivered to the permanent site, and assembled on the foundation.
Can a Modular Home Stand a Tornado? A Flood? Earthquakes?
Modular homes require the same set of planning and building permits asked of stick-built homes. It’s important to be on the loop with specific regulations in your area, and to ensure that you’re working with seasoned professional builders — they know the regulations, and they’ll make sure your home gets the permit.
Why Get a Modular Home?
If you’re ready to be a homeowner but the fear of long waiting times, significant expenses/debt, and complicated paperwork are stopping you from taking the leap, a portable modular home might be for you. Of course, as with everything, there are cons to owning a modular home (e.g., zoning issues, modular home reputation), but if you want to own a home within a relatively shorter timeframe, and save some money in the process, you should definitely look into modular homeownership.
Where to Buy a Modular Home
Since relocatable and modular homes are prefabricated, you have a really wide selection of granny flat and modular home builders in Australia. Whichever one you choose, however, make sure that you’re working with an experienced, qualified team that you can trust. Some designers and builders even have display homes that you can visit, so you can closely examine the quality of their work.
It’s easy to confuse modular homes with other types of alternative housing, but we hope this guide helped answer some of the questions you might have had about the topic.
Have a burning question that we didn’t cover in this article? Share it in the comments section below.
Want to learn more? Check out this video!