Building your own home is a process beset with challenges, particularly in the current market where there are labour shortages and soaring costs of materials. One way to alleviate risk and get some cost certainty, is to consider modular homes.
Modular or prefab homes are essentially pre-designed and prefabricated homes that are delivered to the site with all elements included, and then assembled in place. As the cost of housing has soared and building technology has improved, modular homes are seeing an increase in popularity, offering the security and comfort of a traditional home at a lower price point. As with off-the-plan builds, you choose a floor plan that suits your needs and budget and take it from there.
Modular housing has come a long way
A wonderful challenge for designers and architects and a possible solution to Australia’s housing affordability crisis, modular homes are also a sustainable and economical choice as there is no wastage – you only pay for the materials that will be used and not a single nail more.
While many of us think of rattling, static caravan-style buildings, modular homes are now frequently well designed, insulated and comfortable. Following are some Australian companies that demonstrate how far modular housing has come in recent years:
Archiblox offers a range of sustainable homes, some in collaboration with Australia’s best architects, that can be tailored to your style with the help of in-house interior designers. Their Base Range homes are small, beautifully designed spaces with efficient floor plans that can be built in a fraction of the time of a traditional home at a surprisingly low cost.
Victorian company Prebuilt is popular with downsizers and offers a range of pre-designed modular homes with the option to customise your floor plan. Built in a factory and delivered to site, there is complete cost certainty with these homes. Although they are more in line with the cost of an off-the-plan traditional new home, they look more ‘architectural’ than many new homes and work out a little cheaper on average.
Ecoliv has a range of modular homes displayed on their website and offers more price transparency than some of other prefab building companies, if this is your priority. Their one-bedroom Eco Hut is under $200K to build.
Home Life Pods are ideal if you’re looking for an affordable home under $150K, or perhaps a granny flat. They can be re-sold or moved, should you wish to relocate.
What are the upsides to modular homes?
- They are customisable, so you can choose the layout, colour scheme and fixtures and fittings you like, in line with your budget.
- They are low-maintenance and because the design has been tried and tested over a number of builds, you’re unlikely to have the structural issues that can occur with a one-off build.
- There’s a much shorter build time, because all of the elements are pre-fabricated in a factory and therefore time on site is greatly reduced.
- They are designed to be transported easily, and all parts are provided, so you won’t have any headaches waiting for parts to arrive from overseas, for example.
- Being small and built with the latest technology, modular homes are energy efficient and easy to look after, so your running costs are lower than with an older house.
There are also specific advantages to building a modular home in a land lease community. Some sites have wonderful facilities, including libraries, community centres, garden walks, swimming pools and lawn bowl greens, so you can enjoy more activity and social contact than in a traditional suburban home.
Plus there are cost benefits: because you are living in a secure community your insurance premiums may be lower. Plus, you won’t pay water rates or council costs as these are included in your rent, giving you fewer bills to worry about each month. Some land lease communities in Australia will have their own pre-approved modular home builders, while others will allow you to choose your own designers.
What are the downsides of a modular home?
- If you’re living in a land lease community, you obviously don’t own the land your home is located on. So you will need to study your contract carefully to understand potential rent increases, and what happens to your home if the land is sold.
- Modular homes have a shorter lifespan than a traditional brick-and-tile home – around 60 years. However, some models can be sold on and relocated, should your living situation change.
What’s your take on modular homes?
Have you considered living in one? What do you think of land lease communities as an alternative to retirement homes or private houses? We’d love to hear your thoughts.