Prefabricated vs. Modular Homes: What’s the Difference? - Royal Homes Prefabricated vs. Modular Homes: What’s the Difference? - Royal Homes
My Favourites (0)
My Favourites (0)

Tips & Articles

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

Building Your Home


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 the 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 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 custom, modular prefabricated houses all over Ontario. Find your nearest Royal Homes Design Centre to start designing your dream home no

The passion and attention to detail that the Royal Homes team has is incredible. Their pre-fab homes and cottages and have never been anything short of stunning and top quality. I would recommend this company in an instant, without a shadow of a doubt.Jessica
Email Us
  • FAQ

    Where can I get a price list or How come your website doesn’t show pricing?

    Prices vary geographically, depending on where you are building. With the amount of options available, price lists run into thousands of options. Prices change with the options you choose. The best way to get an idea on pricing would be to contact our Design Centre nearest to where you are building.

    What is your average square foot selling price?

    Prices for a complete home, including foundation vary from $250 sq-ft to over $350 because our homes are all custom built, we can design a home to fit your budget.

    Why should I buy from you over a conventional or "Stick-Builder"?

    The advantages of prefab include building in a climate controlled environment, using environmentally friendly products which reduces waste and a CSA monitored quality controlled program. There is less time start to finish, with less disruption to neighborhood. We also sell at a firm price.

    Do your homes include a foundation?

    Yes our homes include full foundation and basement.

    How long does it take to build a Royal Home?

    It takes less than two weeks to build a home in our factory, but the process from start to finish is very dependent on the timing of obtaining a building permit. For most of our clients the process from start to delivery is twelve to sixteen weeks with move in eight to twelve weeks thereafter.

    What size homes do you build?

    As a custom builder we can build any size home but generally the average size range is between 1300 and 3500 sq feet.

    Do you build garages?

    Yes. Garages are built on site after the home is delivered.

    Are the homes energy efficient?

    Building a prefab home in a factory assures the highest attention to sealing the building envelope and ensures that the cold stays out.

    Since your homes are so energy efficient and air tight, how do you get fresh air?

    All our homes have HRV heat recovery ventilator air exchanger to remove stale air, and introduce fresh air.

    Where can I put a prefab home?

    Anywhere in Ontario you like.

    Can I really customize my prefab home?

    Yes, we use state of the art custom design software, today no two homes are built alike.

    Do you finish the basement?

    Yes. We can customize your basement to the finishes you desire.

    Are Royal Homes built to code?

    All Royal Homes are individually designed to meet all provincial and municipal building codes for your specific lot location.

    Do you build stick-built or conventional homes as well?

    We are a custom home builder first and use prefabricated components wherever we can, because it is a better way to build. If you have a remote site or custom home design with large open spaces we would look at what makes most sense for that design and location. This could include prebuilt panels or partially site built specific rooms.

    What makes the building process environmentally friendly?

    Waste in the factory is separated and recycled, reducing the impact on landfills. This has less disruption in terms of noise and time at job site. Building prefab allows for higher energy efficient homes and reduced heating costs.

    How is your home delivered?

    Our home is delivered by way of custom designed hydraulic flatbed trailers and precisely craned onto the foundation.

    Can you make changes or custom design?

    Yes, clients are given preliminary plans to review and changes are welcome and easily accommodated.