Prefabricated vs. Modular Homes: What’s the Difference?

Most new homes are built on a building site, brick-by-brick, by a construction crew. But more and more Canadians are going a different route: having their homes custom-built in a safe, clean factory, then shipped and assembled on the site in days!

But are these innovative houses defined as prefab homes, or are they more accurately described as modular homes?

Could it be both?

The answer is more straightforward than you think!

Prefabricated Homes vs. Modular Homes: What’s the Difference?

All modular homes are prefabricated, but not all prefabs are modular!

The word prefab refers to prefabrication, which means building a house in a factory before it’s assembled at a construction site.

Modular homes, more accurately called prefabricated prefinished volumetric construction, are houses that are at least 70% prefabricated.

That’s the short answer, but let’s break down the differences between prefab and modular homes in more detail.

Defining a Prefab Home

Rather than one specific construction method, prefab is actually a category of construction methods.

The term encompasses modular houses, as well as those built using panel construction and steel frame construction.

A house is defined as prefabricated if any part of it has been manufactured in advance at a factory before it is shipped to the site. Any home that is primarily constructed in a factory and then assembled on-site is considered prefab.

Prefab homes come in several varieties, including those made from large modules that are assembled on-site, such as Royal Homes, or smaller, fully-built homes that just have to be delivered.

Prefabs are becoming popular in Canada as more architects embrace the building method and technological improvements allow for more innovative designs. Prefabrication has been around for almost a century now, so technology has come a long way!

Here in Ontario, you’re more likely to find prefab homes in small towns and rural areas than urban ones. This is mainly because homeowners have a higher chance of finding a vacant lot out in the country than in established subdivisions.

But prefabs are starting to gain ground in urban areas as well. Royal Homes has delivered homes to places as dense as Etobicoke and Richmond Hill!

Defining a Modular Home

Modular is a more specific term than prefab.

As the name suggests, modular homes are made up of pre-assembled pieces or ‘modules’ that go together like building blocks.

Each module houses one or more rooms that are built almost entirely in a factory. Sometimes, even the wiring and plumbing are pre-installed. That’s how we do it at Royal Homes!

The modules are then transported by flatbed trucks to the homeowner’s vacant lot and assembled as a unit on top of a foundation (which has already been poured). It’s a bit like assembling LEGO blocks, where each piece represents a separate module.

Since they have to be moved by truck, these modules are generally less than 16 feet wide. This used to mean every room in the house had to be less than 16 feet wide, but thanks to new technologies, the possibilities are practically limitless!

Another good example of modular design? Shipping container homes. Of course, most container homes are shipped totally bare and have to be finished on-site.

Royal Homes’ custom prefabricated homes are modular homes, but we tend to use the terms prefab and modular both. Royal Homes, an industry leader in prefabricated home manufacturing, has been continually refining the modular home construction method since 1971.

Why More Canadians Choose Modular Prefab Homes

Modular housing has proven to be a quick and cost-effective alternative to traditional stick-built housing.

Factories aren’t subject to the whims of the weather, so build times are shorter. You don’t lose time to rain, wind or snow. Modular homes are also greener ‒ the controlled environment makes production extremely efficient, drastically reducing waste.

Today modular homes come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, from ultra-modern homes with floor-to-ceiling windows to cozy Muskoka cottages to Cape Cod-style houses for big families!

Royal Homes has set the standard for prefab home construction since 1971. All our homes are custom-made according to the homeowner’s specific specifications. Each step in our 9-step building process has been refined to peak maximum precision, efficiency and quality.

We deliver and place a custom, modular prefabricated houses all over Ontario. Find your nearest Royal Homes Design Centre to start designing your dream home no


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