Modular homes: what are they and could they be right for you?

The traditional housing model of the 21st century is changing. You might consider a ‘typical’ progression for an average homeowner – although everyone’s property journey is unique – to begin with a smaller starter home, followed by ‘moving up’ the housing ladder to a larger family-sized property, with an eventual downsize or diversification of properties once any children have left home.

But have you ever wondered about a house that could grow and change with you? Architects have been playing with this idea and think that modular housing could hold the answer.

Hamburg - What's the difference between a modular home and a traditional home? Would you invest?

What is a modular home?

The modular construction model means that a home is prefabricated and assembled rather than built in situ – a key difference compared with traditional Western building practices. There is usually one base module (a room or group of rooms) that can be added to or simplified at the design stage, or as needs change over time. This could involve, for instance, the addition of an extra storey above the base or an extension to the rear or side.

Modular houses are not the same as mobile homes, as they have solid foundations; it’s simply that modular construction takes place before the building arrives at the site. Once your chosen house design has been prefabricated, it is transported to the site and installed, ready for you to move in.

These structures must still be built by professional builders, carpenters and teams of architects and designers, so as usual, you should check that your chosen company has all the requisite certificates and professional experience. You should also take care to carefully estimate construction costs in order to avoid surprises later in the construction process. When considering whether to invest in a modular home, its also important to know that in most countries, taxes and mortgage conditions are the same whether your property is an on-site build or a prefabricated construction.

What are the advantages of prefabricated construction?

One major advantage cited by construction companies specialising in prefabrication is that a modular home is more customisable. Buyers can usually choose from a variety of base models and then decide if they want extra floors, extra rooms, extensions or balconies. Many companies also offer the flexibility to expand a few years down the line, meaning that you can stick with the same company for the extension. Another clear advantage is that a modular home is often much quicker to complete; some companies suggest the total construction time is reduced by 35% compared with building a traditional home.

Is there such thing as a luxury modular home?

Initially, the modular home market trend was associated with lower-cost housing, but since then many companies have seen the potential for a luxury modular construction model. Because the homes are so customisable, there is ample opportunity to add character and individuality to a house, creating your own dream home from scratch, or perhaps emulating your favourite style of housing with a chalet-style or modernist structure. Of course, with such freedom you can indulge in as much luxury as you please, from built-in saunas and steam rooms to sweeping staircases and grand architectural features. Another popular trend in modular home building is creating tech-filled smart homes or green homes with a low environmental impact from the outset.

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