Modular Homes: The Wave of the Future?

| by Cassandra Cassillas

Imagine your next home being built in a matter of days instead of months.

Modular housing eases the traditional issues that arise during construction, while also combating energy waste. Given the increasing amount of attention being devoted towards eco-friendly solutions to real life problems, it is easy to see why these homes are becoming more and more popular.

Prefab – or modular – housing is essentially housing that is built in sections in a factory and then taken to a site to be built. Once the shell – literally the “shell” or the outside of the house – is erected, the rest of the home is built indoors. This technique allows constructors to avoid common setbacks like weather, and ultimately allows for the home to be built much faster – sometimes in a matter of weeks instead of months and years. Unlike mobile homes, modular homes are built on permanent foundations. Modular housing must conform to specific rules, guidelines and building codes that often surpass those of traditional on-site homes.

Kade Hancock, owner of Huntley Panels, has created the technology to fully pre-fabricate homes off site – all parts and panels are delivered ready for installation. Hancock says that prefab homes have a stigma surrounding them right now, but foresees that changing in the near future.

According to Hancock, there are in fact several internal factors which make the prefab home desirable, including  lower than normal labor costs, low shipping costs, being easier to erect than other options on the market – the structure should be erected within a month – and exceeding the local standards on sustainability, especially for the thermal and acoustic properties of the materials.

Since the exact parts needed are precisely designed, created and shipped to the site, there is also far less waste, which equates to less space taken up in a landfill. For the same reason – precision – there are fewer air leaks, which also make the houses more green. And for what it is worth, environmental impact often influences homeowners’ decisions to purchase a house, according to

"The shift to energy-efficient housing is widespread and happening quickly - with the West taking the lead..." said Wendy Froehlich, vice president of marketing for  "Even the slightest change in habits affects the earth positively and can be achieved without increased costs or searching for a newly built 'green' home."

Architectural and design magazines such as Dwell have nothing but ringing endorsements for prefab housing. Dwell, for instance, often features their favorite modular houses from both the nation and worldwide. Earlier this year, they noted the possible uprising of prefabs by telling readers they were becoming “leaner, more efficient, and, in some cases, bigger.”

Kade Hancock claims that the evolution of prefab homes is occurring rapidly, and that businesses looking to expand into the industry must take consumer interests into consideration. “I believe the prefabricated homes on the large part may not be attractive to the consumer,” Hancock noted. “They often have many limitations on design and can be made from cheap products like Styrofoam or similar materials to cool rooms, these products are cheap and will not stand the test of time.”

Nationally, governments are looking towards prefab due to cost, time, and environmental efficiency. The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that Mayor Walsh is looking to lower the cost of middle class families’ housing and is “exploring ways to lower construction costs with pre-fabricated modular homes and apartments” as one option. In another case on Wednesday, a city in Minnesota announced that it hopes to build 29 modular houses on a seven-acre plot of land to combat their town’s need for single family housing with “smaller footprints.” New York City got their first modular housing complex earlier in May – it’s a seven-story building called “The Stack,” which they boast on their website is a “high-quality product with a small carbon footprint.”

The prefab movement has been spreading for some time now, and it finally appears to be catching on nationwide.

Sources:,, Boston Globe, The Stack NYC, Daily Business News