Your home will likely be the largest investment you ever make. Because of this people often wonder “are prefab houses cheaper” when they see the price tag of traditional style homes.
This is a bit of a loaded question so we’ll approach it in stages below.
Are you Building or Buying?
The first question is whether you’re looking to buy an existing house, or build a new one. When looking at existing homes, typically the price tag per square foot (which varies by location) will be similar between both prefab houses and traditional style houses. The reason is that people are looking at factors such as the number of bedrooms and location as the main price determinants, versus how it was constructed.
If you’re looking to build, then there are price differences between traditionally built wood framed homes and prefab houses. We’ll look into that below.
What does a “Normal Home” Cost?
In order to determine are prefab houses cheaper, we need to figure out the price of the alternative.
In Canada, a ‘traditional’ style home typically consists of wood framed walls. The exterior is covered in siding or brick and the interior is insulated and drywalled. The price of a home like this does vary by location because land prices are a major factor. Ignoring land, your average cost per square foot of a home built by a professional builder is $150-200 per square foot. That means a 1,500 sq. ft. home costs about $262,500 to build.
From there the price can skyrocket based on high end interior fixings. This includes things like faucets and counters. We’ll ignore these elements however since they’re similar for both prefab and non-prefab houses.
What do Prefab Houses Cost?
As you likely know, there are many types of prefab housing. Each type is priced differently and has it’s own benefits. We’ll look at the least expensive (mobile homes) and most expensive (container homes) for comparison.
What do Mobile Homes Cost?
Let’s face it, mobile homes aren’t typically in the same class as a traditionally built home. To answer “are prefab houses cheaper” however, we should consider all prefab home styles and mobile homes are by far the cheapest.
A standard mobile home will cost you somewhere between $50 and $75 per square foot. That’s 1/3 the cost of a traditional style of home which we priced at $150-$200 per square foot.
The price-efficiency of mobile homes comes from the fact that they’re mass-manufactured in factories. This allows for the cost benefits of scale and assembly-line type production versus homes built on-site. You also need to consider however that mobile homes are generally built for those in a lower price bracket. As a result, mobile homes use less expensive materials and insulation than their more-expensive counterparts.
What do Container Homes Cost?
Container homes are built in a variety of configurations, but with the possible exception of log-homes, they are the most expensive variety of prefab home available.
Containers are pre-built for their former lives as shipping containers, so the cost comes from the cutting of their metal exterior, shipping, and interior finishing. The typical cost of a container home is around $200-$250 per square foot. This makes them slightly more expensive than a traditional construction method.
Are Prefab Houses Cheaper?
In conclusion, you can see that while most prefab houses are cheaper than a traditionally built home, there are exceptions. If you’re looking at a container home or log-home then you should expect to pay a bit of a premium. If you’re looking for an affordable solution then mobile or modular homes are your best bet as they’re cheaper than a traditional construction method.