When exploring options people often wonder, what about prefab or modular granny flat design? Prefab granny flats can be a good option for families for a variety of reasons. Let’s explore the pros of prefab granny flats.
What is a Prefab Home?
Prefabricated homes, often referred to as prefab homes or simply prefabs, are specialist dwelling types of prefabricated building, which are manufactured off-site in advance, usually in standard sections that can be easily shipped and assembled.
What is a Stick-Built Home?
A stick-built home is a wooden house constructed entirely or largely on-site; that is, built on the site which it is intended to occupy upon its completion rather than in a factory or similar facility. This method is most often time consuming and can be very expensive. Do you really want a contractor and construction workers milling around your backyard for months and invading your personal space?
The Clear Advantage of Building Prefab
Modular construction uses the same materials and follows to the same building codes as traditional construction. The difference with modular construction is these materials are assembled, or “pre-built”, inside a manufacturing facility, controlling quality and cost.
A common misconception is that these homes are mobile, but they are built into a foundation, like a regular house.
Going with a modular option is faster because the site prep work and the construction can happen simultaneously. One at the factory, the other at the site of the future granny flat.
On-Site Construction is Minimal
With a prefab granny flat, 90% of the home is complete when shipped from the factory to the home site. So walls, floors, ceiling, carpet, and even walls are finished before the shipment. Once the unit arrives, usually by crane, the electrical and plumbing get hooked up the install can happen in as short as a day, but typically takes 3 days.
This also means less exposure to the elements and no delays due to bad weather. Depending on what part of the country you live in and when you’re building, this could be a big bonus.
Remember, the whole process still includes planning, permitting and site prep work, like grading, which can take a few months.
Inspections Happen At the Factory
The State does all approvals and inspections of the house right in the factory and locals can only charge minimal fees for approval and inspection of site work. This is really convenient!
Modular Homes are Eco-Friendly
Factories are more efficient with supplies than one-off custom homes. So they also have the benefit of being more eco-friendly and having a smaller carbon footprint.
These homes tend to be very energy efficient with tight seams and highly rated windows. You can get a tighter building envelope with fewer leaks.
Prefab is more seismically safe because each section has been built to be able to ride down the road and if you have more than one section you get double walls and both a ceiling and a floor in between stories for good soundproofing.
Prefab home builders are continually producing new models of homes with added features and updated safety standards.
Check out this television ad for Sekisui Heim, a Japanese PreFab builder shows an elephant standing safely on top of one of its steel-frame modules. With the recent seismic activity in California, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable in a safer home?
A typical construction cycle for a granny flat can be 6 to 8 months. This is a long time to deal with noise and construction in your own backyard. By choosing a modular option, that moves construction from your backyard to the factory.
Safer for Workers
This might not be something a homeowner would immediately think of, but building a house in a factory is safer and more comfortable for the workers. Plus, they have regular work near home and can spend more time with their families.
Choosing the Right Builder for Your Prefab
Customizing Your Prefab
Modular homes can come with a high degree of freedom when it comes to choosing finishes, paint colors, and kitchen cabinets, but it’s difficult to customize layout like you would a stick built home.
For example, if there’s an eyesore next to your property, you may not be able to design and manipulate your windows to hide or emphasize ugly or beautiful views. Given the lot constraints and setback requirements for granny flats, it may be difficult to manipulate your design to fit the ordinance specifications.
Not every site is suitable. Sites with steep slopes, narrow streets, lack of staging area and above ground electrical wires can hamper your project. We will help you with a site evaluation to eliminate the guesswork.
Government Learning Curve
There is often a learning curve with the local building department. Many local jurisdictions do not know (or care) about the state laws and they try to do full plan check, charge full fees and inspect everything, even if it was already inspected in the factory. If this is the case have your information ready you may have to explain and fight for your rights.
We can help you navigate the different rules and regulations of each city in California.
Look for a Builder with Experience
Granny flats are a niche area of housing that many newcomers do not have any experience in. Attemping to enter the granny flat trend with one of these builders can make or break your project. So keep in mind, not every contractor can properly install a factory built house. Hire someone with experience! We have many years of experience in building using modular construction in California.
Visit USModular, Inc. website for information.
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