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Are Prefab Homes Sustainable?

Are prefab houses considered sustainable?

A house (or part of a house built off site) can be more sustainable, yes. But it depends on the type of house being built. For instance, a prefab house isn't automatically more sustainable, but you can definitely add on more sustainable attributes to regular eco home specifications.

What is a prefab house?

Prefab is when parts/completed structures are built, off site. Prefabs can be pre-nailed wall frames right through to completed houses that fit together like very large puzzle pieces, built off site and then transported to your chosen land area.


So what are the eco-friendly boxes that can be ticked in a prefab home?

Reduced Transportation Emissions – Having a prefab house constructed off site means actual time spent on the build location is significantly shortened. This instantly reduces the amount of travel time builders and tradesmen need to spend on getting to the build location, not to mention all the small trips back and fourth to fill up on supplies etc. Of course the prefab house will still require transportation to the build site, but reduced transportation emissions are significant.

Low Material Waste – Prefab houses that are modular or that have generic plans allows for exact quantities of materials being sourced. Less materials end up in the skip, and excess materials can be stored for the next build.

Moisture Control – On-site builds are always at risk when it rains before the house has been sealed; trapped moisture can lead to mold issues. Prefab homes built in a factory that is dry avoid damage from the elements, creating healthier homes.

Reduced Energy-in-use – The quality of the prefab buildings can be built to a very high standard. Higher structural quality can lead to improved air-tightness and operational efficiency from better insulation standards.

Reduced Site Disruption/Damage - On site work is heavily reduced allowing for less noise, dust, road blocks and minimal disruptions for the neighborhood.

It also reduces the risk of timber treatment chemicals leaching into the environment.

Using these key points coupled with sustainable low-impact materials, such as solar power and good ventilation, prefab homes could knock conventionally built homes out of the park in terms of sustainably.

Resources:

  1. Value Case for Prefab - how offsite construction can deliver better cost-effective housing to more New Zealanders (with BRANZ and Productivity Partnership, 2014)
    http://www.prefabnz.com/html/blob.php/PrefabNZ%20Value%20Case%20for%20Prefab%202014_web.pdf?attach=false&documentCode=8802
  2. Prefab housing can have benefits if done well - Guardian
    http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2013/apr/04/prefab-housing-benefits-costs

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