Prefab houses have picked up a lot of media attention as New Zealand looks to find affordable ways to provide housing that meets the growing demand. But what are prefab houses and why are they such an attractive solution? And what's the catch?
Housing Minister Peter Twyford said in March of 2018 that prefabricated houses are set to pave the way for affordable housing to be built at scale. Labour's KiwiBuild plan aims to build 100,000 affordable homes across the country, with 50% of them outside of Auckland. Twyford's view that prefab housing could deliver on this promise is encouraging for those that have seen prefab houses as the future for many decades now.
What are prefab houses?
Prefab houses are homes that are built in a factory or warehouse to a finished state and are then transported to their final location. In some cases a prefab house can be partly constructed in a factory and final assembly happen on site.
Genius First Light's Flex 90 is completely built in a factory, with all interior fitting done before the house is delivered onto site. This means all that's needed is final fitting to services when the house arrives and then the home is ready to move into.
Why are prefab homes cheaper?
Because prefab houses are built to an exact plan, and the process is highly repeatable the building can be highly efficient. Without weather delays, under-ordering of materials and no overruns as one team of trades impacts another the costs can be tightly controlled.
Many, like Genius First Light's Flex 90, have consents pre-approved which further reduces delays when all you really want is to get into your new home.
Are prefab houses sustainable?
Some are. The Flex 90 for example has been designed to be kind on the environment, use renewable materials and reduce the owner's carbon footprint.
Building sustainable prefab houses are the vision of Genius First Light. Each house has incredibly high levels of insulation, which reduces the owner's use of heating and the materials are sustainably sourced. With reduced tradesman transport and limited wastage of materials even the build process is environmentally sensitive.
Do prefab houses look like boxes?
Not all of them! Even though they're designed to fit on a transportable device and be safely delivered to the final site prefab houses have come along way in design. Many Kiwi homes are rectangular in design to keep living areas far from sleeping areas so once on site few could even tell whether a design was prefab.
Prefab homes can have decks, garages or carports added to them once in place which further helps them to blend into the surroundings.
Do prefab homes comply with covenants?
That very much depends on the individual rules that are being applied to the section or the development. Some developments have pre-agreed designs with prefab home builders and some will consider designs even if the covenant says no in the fine print. Most developers are looking for the houses to look good and be of a certain standard to increase the appeal of their development. That's why many will place a minimum spend on any houses built on the site. If you have a home design you love, that happens to be a prefab home send the design to your contact and see if they'll allow it.
Keen to check out our sustainable prefab home? Simply download the brochure by clicking the image below.