But first, let’s deal with the ‘pre-fab’ misconception. The term might immediately conjure up images of pre-cast concrete and damp, un-mortgageable properties that are a far cry from the luxury new build your heart is set on, so let’s dispel some myths and explain what can be ‘fab’ about pre-fabs.
1. High quality
Pre-fabricated homes meet stringent manufacturing standards, specifications and quality controls. Made in factory conditions with many automated processes for precision and speed, the finishes are not dependent on the skill set of an individual labourer, or the weather conditions on site. You also get complete visibility and transparency over the materials specified and are assured that what you pay for, you get.
2. Design your dream home, anything is possible
Buying a pre-designed kit can bring costs down if you find the right kit for you, your plot and your planners, but bespoke is possible too. You can design with the manufacturer, or with your chosen architect and then have the designs translated into your chosen pre-fabricated system.
3. Fantastic eco-credentials
Increasingly important, the pre-fab market can win hands down over traditional build. Building in timber has lower CO2 emissions; most building materials can be sustainable, using natural and renewable materials rather than products like PIR insulation, and some manufacturers now insulate to Passive House levels as standard. Combined with technology like mechanical heat recovery ventilation systems (MVHR), solar panels, battery packs and air source or ground source heat pumps, you should also see your energy bills reduced.
4. Pre-fab puts control back in your hands
Self-building, of any kind, can feel daunting - so many options, so many horror stories! Some pre-fab manufacturers offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ from design to home construction and interior fit-out, making the process as easy and enjoyable as it can be. You know the spec and scope of work upfront, you get a fixed price, and a project timeline you can rely on.
5. Healthy buildings
With the right manufacturer, you can build a home with near-zero chemical emissions. Combined with modern technology like MVHR units which actively filter your home for allergens and dust, a pre-fab home can bring many health benefits to allergy and asthma sufferers. But make sure to check the manufacturer’s standards on construction materials and visit their factory if at all possible – look out for breathable membranes within the wall systems, natural construction materials without chemicals or plastics and the inclusion of HEPA filters on MVHR units if you want to achieve the best possible living environment.
Research is key to finding the right build partner. Build systems, materials, services and, of course, prices vary greatly, but working out your priorities should help narrow your shortlist. Ask questions and find out all you can about each manufacturer’s USPs before you buy – one of the best things about the pre-fab process is how transparent it can be.