Prefab Options: Panelized Vs. Modular Homes

Written by mary margaret peralta
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Prefab Options: Panelized Vs. Modular Homes
Prefabricated homes are built in a controlled factory setting. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Prefabricated homes are built in a controlled factory setting with constant inspection throughout the construction process. They are unaffected by the weather during construction, allowing for higher quality construction. Modular homes and panelized homes are two different types of prefabricated homes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

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What's the Difference?

Panelized homes are prefabricated homes where the manufacturer pre-builds all the exterior and interior walls. The walls are then sent to the building site to be assembled. Panelized home packages come complete with roofs, floors, doors, windows and siding. Once the shells are built, subcontractors complete the interior work such as electrical, heating and drywall. Modular homes differ from panelized homes in that they are built in sections that are placed on pre-made foundations, and then joined together and completed by the builder.


Both panelized and modular homes have advantages. Both options are quicker to build than conventional homes, resulting in less building-site time. The materials used to build the homes are not subject to warping, cracking or weathering because they are constructed in an indoor factory setting. Both types of homes tend to be built solidly because they have to endure transportation to the property; many components are glued in addition to being nailed and screwed. In addition, modular and panelized homes offer several design options and are an energy-efficient choice--additional factory insulation can result in lower heating and cooling costs for the consumer.

Panelized homes differ from modular homes in their construction because only their walls are pre-built. This allows for onsite adjustments of any aspects that may require it.


The segments of a prefabricated home are manufactured in a factory setting. This results in less waste of materials in the construction process. Modular and panelized homes can be transported and assembled in much less time than building on-site, thereby saving on labour costs. There may also be a reduction in cost overruns due to factors such as inclement weather. Although they are less expensive than conventional homes, prefabricated homes are not as cost-efficient as they once were, due to new styles. Panelized homes may be similar in cost to some conventional homes, due to their high quality, but the consumer will get more for his or her money.


While prefabricated homes offer several advantages, there are some limitations to consider. Most modular homes tend to be rectangular and typically follow consistent interior patterns. They are also limited by the dimensions of their delivery vehicles and the units must be able to withstand stress during braking, accelerating and turning. Panelized homes do not have the same limitations because only their walls are pre-built. In addition, garages, porches and other additions to modular homes must be built on-site, whereas these additions are prepared beforehand for panelized homes.

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