Feb 10 2023

How does a prefab home work?

Discover how the prefab home process works

Prefab homes are a cost-effective and efficient option for homeowners looking to build a new home. Whatever you’re looking for, understanding how this innovative approach works can help you make an informed decision.
In this blog, we explore:

For all the benefits and tips to make the most of them, find out more below. 

What is a prefab home?

Constructed in a managed factory, prefabricated homes are complete before they arrive at the building site. Construction is much faster than conventional onsite builds because of the efficient assembly line system and factory conditions. 

When the house is ready, it is transported to the building site in one piece and fixed to the foundations. At this point, it is a permanent fixture and will be as durable or more durable than a conventional home. 

The benefits of prefab homes

By taking construction away from the unpredictable building site, prefab homes offer many advantages over traditional homes. These include:  

  • Quicker and more predictable build times.

  • Lower costs.

  • High energy efficiency.

  • Customisable designs. 

  • Minimal site disruption.

  • Reduced wastage.

Additionally, prefab homes are built to meet the New Zealand Building Code, ensuring that they are safe, energy-efficient, and built to last.

Financing for prefab homes

Financing a prefab home can require an alternative route than a traditional house purchase, due to each bank having different policies and procedures when lending for a prefab home build. It’s advised that you speak with an independent mortgage broker to find the best offer for your unique circumstances. You can even speak with the prefab home manufacturer to see who they recommend.


First-home buyers may find financing to be a challenge but there are an increasing number of funding options for prefab homes. The first place to start is with:

  • Your KiwiSaver balance.

  • The KiwiSaver First Home Grant.

  • Kāinga Ora First Home Loans. 

We also recommend looking into the Westpac Prebuilt scheme which is designed for offsite construction. This way, you can lower the deposit and get construction underway sooner. 

The prefab building process 

Where traditional construction is plagued by weather delays and hefty labour costs, prefabs are simple, predictable, and cost-effective. The process is also fairly straightforward, as can be seen below.

1. Find a building site

When choosing a building site for a prefab home, the key things to keep in mind are zoning, building codes, site slope, soil conditions, the potential for flooding, accessibility, site services, and orientation. At Manor Build, we offer free site visits to assess these factors, so you can be confident that the site is suitable.

2. Design consultations

During the initial design stage, your building company will discuss your needs and preferences for your new home. This includes the number of rooms you need, the style of the home, and any specific design elements you would like to include. The designer will produce a house plan from this, taking your local compliance requirements into account. This could be from an off-the-shelf plan or a customised design to suit your individual tastes. 

What are the standard inclusions? 

Most of the work is done in advance – including the internal fit-out. That means your appliances, decorating, flooring, plumbing, and electrical are all done before they even leave the factory. Delivery and site connections are not included. See our full list of standard inclusions here

Can I customise my prefab home? 

Some manufacturers have a range of existing house plans to choose from, some allow for modifications, and some offer fully custom designs. Common customisations include adding another bedroom, installing more windows, and upgrading the kitchen. 

3. Sign the contract

When you are happy with the house plan, you and your building company will sign the contract and get started. This usually involves a deposit and a pre-purchase package, including a fixed quote. If you want to see the prefab method in action first, book a free factory tour

4. Building consent

For a prefab, getting building consent is the same process as for a traditional site-built home. The steps involve checking local zoning, submitting an application, obtaining approval, and passing inspections. At Manor Build, we handle these steps for you and ensure your house plans are compliant with the latest standards. 

5. Construction

When the plans are finalised, your building team will get to work. With plenty of experience working on similar house designs and a streamlined factory setup, the average build time is much faster than most on-site builds. Most prefab companies will have a network of reliable contractors for each task, including plumbing, electrical, and decorating so that everything can be done in one convenient place. The factory phase of prefab construction is highly efficient because builders can work uninterrupted at one location across multiple builds. The overall cost is far lower because bad weather doesn’t slow us down and our tradespeople don’t have to travel to the building site each day. 

Prefab homes generally need to be built with a stronger structure than a typical new build home. The reason for this is that they’re transportable. Taking a long journey on a truck could take its toll on a standard home and, to offset this, prefabricated homes are built to withstand these rigours. The good news is that this translates to a home with a lot more structural rigidity than a comparable onsite build.

What building materials are used?

For the most part, prefabs require the same building materials as traditional construction. However, everything is ordered and stored in the factory well in advance, meaning there are fewer delays. This also reduces the amount of construction waste, as any excess materials are stored and used on the next project and all materials are in excellent condition as they aren’t exposed to the weather. 

6. Delivery

It typically takes a few weeks to transport the prefab to the building site but this will depend on your site’s distance from the factory. The house is lifted onto a large transporter and since the house is complete, it is completely protected from the elements. 

7. Site work 

When a prefab home is delivered, most of the work is already done. The foundations and accessways will be ready, leaving only the service connections and a few touch-ups to be done. This will only take a few weeks and then your brand-new house is ready to call home. 

8. Handover

After a few short weeks of touch-ups and service connections, and a final inspection, we’ll hand over the keys to your brand-new home. Due to the efficiency of this approach, it could be as quick as a few months between signing the contract and getting the new keys. 

Ready to find your dream home? With reduced construction time, improved energy efficiency, and cost savings, prefab homes are a wise next step. Ask our friendly team for more advice or browse our range of floor plans to choose one you like. Whatever your needs, you’re sure to find a design that appeals to your tastes. 

Browse our full range of prefab house plans

Tags: Transportable/Prefab home