Modular Home Requirements For Successful Transportation

The overall modular home construction is coordinated to integrate all the transportation requirements: Every module is designed to fit in the dimensions that will enable their transportation, and their structure is built sturdy enough to withstand the stress suffered during transportation. Most modular home manufacturers in Europe and the UK follow a similar procedure to deliver the modules from the factory to the plot. However, every project is usually assessed individually to adapt the construction of that modular home to the route conditions.

modular home transportation
Image credit: Akso Haus OÜ

How are modular homes transported to the site?

Most modular home manufacturers ship the modules to the property by road and the standardised modular construction process is designed to adapt to the road regulation requirements. One of the most essential adaptations consists of limiting the dimensions of the modules to fit into these requirements. These sizes vary slightly from project to project, though, in Europe and the UK, they are about 5,3 metres in width, 14,5 metres in length, and 3,8 metres in height [1].

Road transportation is done by lorry, using heavy haul trailers of different dimensions to adapt to both the modules and the road limitations. For example, the modular house company Akso Haus, uses trailers with lengths as large as 25 metres to transport their heaviest modules, though they can downgrade to 22-metre-long heavy haul trailers when the accessibility to the property requires so [2].

In some situations with limited accessibility, other modes of transportation might be required:

  • Cargo Ship: Transporting a modular home by boat is quite common when the modules are delivered to a different continent or an island. Using a Ro-Ro (Roll-on/Roll-off) ship is very convenient for long distances since it limits the module manoeuvring. The modules leave the factory on a heavy haul trailer which will be later driven into the ferry, and it isn’t until the trailer reaches the final destination that the modules are unloaded [3].
  • Rail: While delivering the modules by train is possible, this is not a common delivery choice. It is rare for both the manufacturing company and the plot to be located by the rail. Therefore, the modules must be transported to and from the rail station by road. The modules have to be manoeuvred several times, risking being damaged, increasing costs and making rail transportation less convenient [4].
  • Helicopter: This is a very uncommon practice since it is overly expensive and complex, though it is still possible and some manufacturers will opt for it if necessary. Extremely inaccessible locations, such as the top of a mountain, can benefit from the convenience of off-site construction thanks to solutions such as helicopter delivery [4].

While it is possible to deliver a modular home with different modes of transportation, not all manufacturers offer every possibility. In most cases, modular companies will only contemplate road delivery. Still, always consult with your manufacturer to get to know the different options available to reach your property.

Modular home transportation requirements and limitations

To ensure the success of the modular home delivery, it is essential to plan and prepare the transportation route carefully. The trailer carrying the module is of considerable dimensions and while the modules’ sizes are limited to enable its transit along most roads, not every route is prepared for it. The first element to consider when planning the route is the dimensions of the roads.

The roads should be wide and without sharp or narrow curves all the way from the factory to the property. The minimum width required for this type of lorry is 3,5 metres wide [1], though this value increases up to a width of at least 7,2 metres in turns [3]. Additionally, the roads taken by the lorries should be completely free from obstacles cutting down the width or height of the road since these could damage the modules or even threaten the delivery.

Some obstacles, such as trees or fences, can be cleared up before the module delivery, though every possible limitation should be carefully analysed in advance. The most challenging obstacles are usually those reducing the road height since there is usually no way around it. The minimum height required for module delivery is 4,5 metres [6], so it is essential to pay special attention to elements such as tunnels, bridges or power lines.

On-site conditions for modular home delivery

Once the modules arrive at the property, they are assembled on the foundations with a crane to finish the modular home construction. Given the size and weight of the modules, the crane needs to be properly stabilised in an area with enough manoeuvring space. The area required for the crane is approximately eight by eight metres [6].

The assembly of the modules is usually quite simplified, given that the prefabricated modules are delivered with all the joints and connections already prepared [7]. Generally, both the module transportation and the crane manoeuvring are conducted by specialised companies. However, in most cases, these are subcontracted and supervised by the modular home manufacturer, who is present during the assembly and finishing works.

onsite crane modular home delivery
Image Credit: Cube

How much does it cost to ship a modular home?

The cost of shipping each one of the modules from the factory to the property by road is about 8,11€/km in Europe and the UK [6]. This price, however, can easily fluctuate from one project to another depending on the transportation route, the difficulties encountered on the roads or the type of vehicles utilised in this process. The manufacturer Frame House, for example, explains that the fees for shipping a house might vary depending on the destination and the routes taken [1].

Generally, the manufacturer drafts the delivery quota and includes everything from loading the modules on the trailer to the crane manoeuvring and assembly. However, additional services, like the transportation assessment performed at the very beginning of the construction process, are generally not included in the shipping quote since they are typically charged separately at the very beginning. Still, most manufacturers choose to refund this cost by discounting it from the construction cost [6].

[1]How big are prefab modules and how are they transported ProNor Baltics
[2]Akso Haus (2022, August 24) Modular house transportation and transportation survey
[3]Akerman, I. and Jonsson, R. European modular system for road freight transport – experiences and possibilities Report 2007:2 E TFK – TransportForsK AB
[4]Agha, A., Shibani, A., Hassan, D., and Zalans, B. (2021) Modular Construction in the United Kingdom Housing Sector: Barriers and Implications Journal of Architectural Engineering Technology, 10(2), [236].
[5]Bertram, N., Fuchs, S., Mischke, J., Palter, R., Strube, G., and Woetzel, J. (2019, June) Modular construction: From projects to products McKinsey & Company 
[6]Blokki building – FAQ Blokki
[7]Montage Prefabhome Frame House Manufacturer


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