Deciding that you’re finally ready to build the off-the-grid cabin of your dreams is just the first of many important decisions you need to make when investing in a cabin home. Once you decide on your budget and find an appropriate locale, you then need to figure out how you want to go about building it.
You have two basic options when it comes to building a cabin home: you can build it from scratch or you can go with a prefabricated or modular home. Each of these options comes with distinct advantages and disadvantages. Below, we weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a prefabricated/modular cabin home to help you determine the best fit for your needs.
Pros of Prefab & Modular Cabin Homes
Typically, prefab and modular homes cost much less to build than those built on site AKA stick-built homes. According to Modular Homeowners, it costs about 10-20% less to build a modular home, on average, compared to a stick-build home. One of the reasons for the lower price is that the construction of prefab homes generally results in less material waste than stick-built homes.
Prefab home construction is usually highly efficient and streamlined, while stick-built construction features a lot more question marks around materials throughout the process, resulting in more material waste and higher expenses for you. Additionally, it takes fewer people and less time to build a prefab cabin home, which also results in significant savings.
Speaking of affordability, another reason prefab and modular homes tend to cost less than stick-built cabin homes is that they’re often built with a focus on energy efficiency. Not only is the construction less wasteful, but the factory-built parts often feature tighter seams, resulting in more energy conservation in the long run.
Plus, many of today's prefab and modular cabin homes specifically offer sustainable and energy-efficient materials and features, such as bamboo flooring, Energy Star-certified appliances, tankless water heaters, and solar panels. All of these options will save you money in the long run while being much kinder to Mother Nature than many stick-built homes.
Prefab and modular cabin homes are known for being more durable than stick-built homes for several reasons. For starters, factory-made homes receive multiple inspections during every step of the manufacturing process to ensure they adhere to codes and regulations. In comparison, stick-built homes typically only receive one inspection, making it easy to miss potentially critical risks.
In addition to being inspected at regular intervals, prefab and modular cabin homes are built with shipping in mind, which often means they come with added structural supports so that they can endure being shipped from one site to another.
Cons of Prefab & Modular Cabin Homes
One of the obvious drawbacks of factory-made homes is that they’re not as customizable as stick-built homes, which can be virtually anything that you dream up. Not only does customization pertain to aesthetic preferences, but being able to fully customize your home may mean that you can design it better for a particular location, so you can potentially choose from more build sites than you would get with a prefab home.
More Upfront Costs
Prefab and modular cabin homes often cost less in the long run, but they also typically come with higher upfront costs. When you purchase a stick-built home, then you usually make a down payment and relatively small monthly mortgage payments once you move in. While modular and prefab homes often come with financing options, you still need to pay for the cabin’s construction before you can move in.
Some prefab and modular cabin homes require you to arrange your own utility connections, like electricity, water, and sewer lines, which can involve spending more money (and time) than you anticipated. Additionally, when you purchase a stick-built home, you’re also purchasing the land you’re building it on, but factory-made homes require you to purchase both the home and the land you plan to put it on, so you’ll want to be sure to account for land costs when budgeting for a prefab or modular cabin home.
The History Behind the First A-Frame Cabin
The popularity of the modern American A-frame dwelling that we know and love today can be traced back to a single house designed by Rudolph Schindler in 1934. Learn all about the beloved A-frame's history here.
Choosing the Perfect Lot to Build Your Cabin Home
To ensure you invest in a lot that can make all of your cozy cabin dreams come true, consider the following factors when researching potential sites.
10 Perfect Places to Rent or Buy a Cabin Right Now
To help you hone in on the best locale to make all your cabin dreams come true, we outlined our favorite cabin destinations from coast to coast.