How to Buy a Prefabricated Home

Prefabricated homes (also called "prefab" homes or manufactured homes) are those that are entirely constructed off-site and then positioned onto the building site when completed. Prefab homes have many advantages. Because they are built in a controlled environment (usually indoors), they can be built much more quickly than a traditional home, as inclement weather and unforeseen site conditions will not slow the progress. They also produce less waste, as they are designed in convenient sizes that allow for maximum utilization of stock materials. This makes them less expensive and more environmentally friendly than traditional homes. If you want to buy a prefabricated home, note that the process will differ from a traditional home search.


  1. Image titled Buy a Prefabricated Home Step 1
    Choose a building site. When buying a prefabricated home, you need to have a building site chosen in advance. This is important for 2 reasons.
    • The first reason is to make sure you can legally place a prefab home on the site. Many local regulations, such as neighborhood covenants, place restrictions on prefab homes. Some regulations may ban these homes altogether, while others may define the permissible appearance and size of the home. These regulations are usually designed to ensure a cohesive neighborhood appearance.
    • The second reason is to ensure your building site is flat enough. A disadvantage to prefabricated homes is that they can't accommodate diverse site conditions as well as site-built homes. They generally need a flat building pad on which to be positioned. Even though a flat pad can be cleared onto a sloped site, you should ensure that the cut is not so dramatic that it will cause drainage problems.
  2. Image titled Buy a Prefabricated Home Step 2
    Browse for a prefab manufacturer. Choosing a prefab manufacturer differs from choosing a builder for a site-built home, because each manufacturer produces their own style of home. Some builders, such as Clayton Homes, design homes that mimic the look of traditional site-built homes. Other builders, such as Hive Modular and kitHAUS, offer prefab homes with modern, innovative architectural detailing.
    • When choosing a builder, consider all factors that are important to you, such as pricing, aesthetics, and customer feedback. You can browse for prefab builders using online directories such as the one at
  3. Image titled Buy a Prefabricated Home Step 3
    Ensure that you understand which expenses are covered in the manufacturer's pricing model. Pricing a prefab home can be more complicated than simply paying a builder or homeowner a flat fee. Make sure you understand exactly what is included in the manufacturer's price. Sometimes the price will include the entire home, but will not include transportation and site work costs for getting the building to the site and installing it. Other pricing models may exclude all finishes, furnishings, or even electrical and mechanical equipment.
  4. Image titled Buy a Prefabricated Home Step 4
    Determine whether you can customize the home's structure and appearance. The options vary widely between manufacturers on this point. Some builders may allow little or even no customization. Others may offer certain predetermined options such as adding a porch or adding windows in certain locations. Still other builders may offer complete flexibility in designing the home. Note that all these customization options will entail an added cost.
  5. Image titled Buy a Prefabricated Home Step 5
    Evaluate your financing options. After ensuring that you understand the full costs of the prefab home and budgeting for those costs, approach a bank about financing the purchase. Most banks will extend the same mortgage opportunities to buyers of both prefab homes and site-built homes. However, it may be more difficult for your bank to assess the value of a more unique prefab home, and so your mortgage terms may suffer.


  • Use your prefab purchase as an opportunity to become fully involved in your home's specs. Learning about and specifying criteria like insulation ratings or efficient heating and cooling systems can save you a lot of money over the life of the home.
  • If you are buying an existing prefabricated home from the current owner, the process will differ little from buying a traditional site-built home.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Internet access

Article Info

Categories: Real Estate