What are Modular Homes?

3D rendering of a modular home

Modular homes are a subtype of prefab home that is constructed out of “modules” (as opposed to sections or panels). Each module comes mostly or completely pre-built, but like prefabs they differ from mobile homes. They are transported differently, governed by different building codes, and — most importantly  — are much more amenable to the art and science of custom home building.

What You Should Know About Modular Homes

What are modular homes? What are they used for? What does the construction and manufacturing process entail? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of these types of manufactured houses, especially with regard to custom home building in South Florida?

Modules & Modular Houses

Modular building is a subset of “off-site construction,” wherein part or all of a house is constructed in one location and then transferred to another for completion. This clearly distinguishes it from on-site (informally referred to as “stick-built”) construction, and the degree to which modular homes are completed off-site also distinguishes it from other types of prefabs.

Modulars can be thought of as a balanced approach to building prefabricated houses. The modules themselves are rooms, the primary component of a house. Other components of off-site construction are much more minuscule (panels) or more comprehensive (sections, entire wings of homes that comprise two or more rooms and motifs).

Modular Construction

Modular homes must abide my the local codes of the municipality in which they will be completed, so the construction process is marked by tightly scrutinized inspection. The most important stage of manufacturing is design, wherein constructors must utilize automated computing and 3D models to ensure modules’ compatibility with other rooms or sections. After the modules are manufactured, they are transported to the construction site via a flat-bead truck to be installed.

Modular Homes & Custom Home Building

What are the pros and cons of using modules, as opposed to proverbial “sticks,” to custom build a home in South Florida?


  • More affordable than traditionally-built luxury homes
  • Quicker construction process means a more immediate return on investment, one of the primary concerns in home building
  • Easier to implement extensions, remodeling and home additions
  • More environment-friendly construction
  • Since it is built to withstand rigorous transport, modules are usually inherently more sturdy (very apposite to the coastal, hurricane-prone areas of South Florida)


  • While construction itself is much quicker, the transport of modules can be very slow
  • May not be fully accepted by buyers, which may lead to undervaluation at resale (although smart design may disguise the fact that a home is modular)
  • South Florida custom home builders are extremely limited in their ability to customize using modules, as the market favors minimalization