How to Build Your Own House with Prefab Construction

Building your own house requires thorough planning and a good understanding of the different stages of construction. By choosing to build your house with prefabricated techniques, you highly simplify the logistics, as most of the construction work is completed through a highly industrialised method.

The overall house-building process might look slightly different depending on your location and type of project, yet all prefabs follow a general guideline. By understanding this course of action, you know what is required at every stage and are equipped to make the decisions that better benefit your project without feeling overwhelmed by the process.

Start by defining your priorities to identify the best prefab model or manufacturer

One of the most important decisions that has to be made when building your own house with prefabricated methods is choosing the right manufacturer. Given the industrialisation of prefab construction, manufacturers tend to be quite specialised, which limits the variety of options they can offer.

Therefore, choosing the right manufacturer for your building project is essential. To do so, take some time to define your priorities.

  • Decide if you prefer bespoke or pre-designed: If you feel more comfortable selecting your dream house from a catalogue showing the different available models, your process will start by selecting the most suitable pre-designed prefab. However, if you prefer to build your house from scratch, your process will begin by choosing a manufacturer instead.
  • Specify how much space you need: The number of people living in the house or the activities that take place indoors are some of the key aspects to look into. Decide the number of rooms and bathrooms you need to accommodate your household to either identify the right pre-designed models or to know how big your newly designed house should be.
  • Determine what type of house you need: Prefabs come in various shapes, sizes and styles; some look just like traditional builds, yet others are smaller non-permanent dwellings built on wheels. Identify which type of house works best for you according to your lifestyle. Also, consult with the local planning authority to get a clear understanding of what type of construction can be built on your plot and the building regulations you should adhere to.
  • Set your budget: It is essential to define your financial capacity and limit your budget beforehand to avoid additional stress or delays in the future. Establishing contact with a money lender at this point can be very helpful to know how much money is at your disposal. With a budget in mind, look for those models or manufacturers who offer a building cost within your price range.

With a proper understanding of your preferences and possibilities, you can choose the right manufacturer to either build a pre-designed model or design your house from scratch. Tools such as the search feature provided by Spassio are a good starting point.

1. Get a land survey to define the best design approach

It is common for manufacturers to offer a feasibility study prior to the design in order to determine what type of house they can build on your property. To identify the best way to approach the house design as well as reduce unexpected inconveniences during delivery and assembly, it is common to perform soil surveys, access road studies or even bioclimatic analysis.

Besides these technical aspects, you should also make your own personal recognition of the property. Identify those viewpoints that you would like your design to embrace. Also, get a clear understanding of those areas you would rather avoid, such as a not-so-beautiful view or a source of excessive noise.

2. Design your dream house

How to Build Your Own House with prefab construction

This design process looks slightly different depending if your starting point is a pre-designed model or a bespoke prefab. If you have opted for an already designed floor plan, in this stage, you will go through the different customisable options offered by the manufacturer to decide which ones are best for you.

With the information obtained in the land survey, the manufacturer will guide you into the most suitable location and orientation of the house, as well as which foundations are the most advisable for your project.

If you have chosen to design your house from scratch, in this stage, you work with the architecture team of your chosen manufacturer to define the building plans. They will carefully decide every detail of your house, from its shape and size to the building materials used.

Take advantage of the freedom you have to create a house that makes life easy for you. Recreate your most common domestic scenes to identify the best size of each area or the amount of privacy required.

3. Preorder your house and get ready to start building

Once all the design details have been decided, the manufacturer prepares a contract that includes all the construction details and delivery schedules and warranty policies. With the signature of this document, you are asked to pay a deposit that ‌ranges from 10% to 50% so the manufacturer can start the off-site construction works.

If you need financing, keep in mind that your prefab companies can most likely help you by providing information on the most suitable banks or even offering financing themselves as Nomad Container or Vmodul do.

To start the on-site construction works you will most likely need to gain a building permit as most countries in Europe, as well as the UK, require this procedure. Some prefab manufacturers offer these services, but in most cases, it is the client who has to go through this process.

The requirements will vary depending on the location, but in some countries such as Spain, you’ll need the signature of a certified local architect [1]. If you are building a house in Spain with an international manufacturer, you might have to hire an architect to validate the house design and obtain the permits.

4. Prepare the land and build the foundations

One of the biggest advantages of building your house with prefab construction methods is that most of the construction process takes place off-site in a factory-like environment. As a result, land preparation can take place simultaneously with the manufacturing of the house, saving an enormous amount of time.

To receive the prefabricated house, the land has to be prepared according to the type of prefab and its specific design.

Land preparation requires levelling the area, and in most cases, building foundations as well. Some manufacturers are equipped to provide these services, but in most cases, hiring additional professionals such as a contractor and a project coordinator is required.

In this case, choose a local professional who can supervise closely the process and fix any possible building problem as soon as possible to reduce extra costs and complications.

5. Delivery and assembly of the prefabricated house

As soon as the manufacturing of the house is complete, the prefab gets delivered and assembled on the property that was previously prepared. The size and shape of the product manufactured vary from one type of prefab to another.

For example, a cabin manufacturer will build the entire house in one piece that is ready to use, while a panel-built manufacturer will construct two-dimensional systems that have to be assembled on-site.

In most cases, the same manufacturer takes care of delivering the prefabricated units, usually by lorry, and installs or assembles them by crane on the property. To get a fully functioning house, some additional finishing works, such as connecting to the main utilities, have to be completed.

Depending on your contract with the manufacturer, the same building team who installs the house might provide these works, though they are often handled by the local contractor.

Closing the construction process to move into your new house

Now your house is assembled and functioning, it is time to prepare the house for move-in day. You can start decorating the interiors to your liking, as well as landscaping and gardening to leave the house just as you envisioned.

Still, some countries in Europe, as well as the UK, might require one last step, such as a certificate of occupancy. In order to receive this approval, the newly built house is inspected by an authorised agent who has to verify the safety of the building. Aside from the legal inspection, it is important that you inspect the house as well to verify that it is functioning well, and that they built every detail as agreed in the contract.


[1]Everything you need to know before buying a prefabricated house in Spain Pacheco & Asociados

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