Your House is Your Haven: Don't Neglect the Interior

Can I Wire My Prefab House Myself?

by Cherly King

When they first made their appearance during WW II, prefabricated homes were a famous novelty. For about $2,500, a family could order a house kit from a catalog like Sears and Roebuck. The kit would arrive in partially built pieces to be completed on-site by the homeowner or whoever he had hired to help him. Even the electrical wiring could be pre-installed to make building the home more economical, but unless you were an electrician by trade, or knew a lot about how electricity works, you still needed an electrical contractor to help.

Prefabricated homes were a hit for a number of reasons:

  • They were affordable for even middle-class families.
  • They were an economical option as a second vacation home for wealthier families.
  • They allowed homeowners to build homes away from the congestion of the inner cities.
  • They went up fast, permitting families to move in much more quickly than in a traditionally built home.
  • They were easy to order and could be assembled by any homeowner who had the know-how.

Modern Prefabricated Homes

Prefabricated homes experienced a surge again in the early 2000s, though these kits cost 10 to 20 times more than they did after the war. The most economical options ran about $23,000 for a kit that included such modern conveniences as interlocking insulated panels to make the whole building process faster and easier. Potential homeowners can still buy house kits and partially-constructed prefab homes today, and you can still build them yourself. It helps to have heavy construction equipment on hand to help you out, however. You'll also need all the permits and inspections that go along with building a new construction, which usually means hiring the services of an electrician. The only drawback is that prefab homes often don't qualify for the traditional mortgages available for most stick-built alternatives. 

Mobile Home Options

Modern mobile, or manufactured homes, fit under the prefabricated label, as well. These homes are entirely factory-built, transported to the build site on wheels, and set upon pre-dug foundations. Mobile homes are more affordable than many traditional single-family homes, but they don't hold their resale value in the same way. Mobile homes, or trailers, typically depreciate in value much like a automobile -- once they leave the lot, the value begins to decrease. Still, this highly affordable, convenient style of home provides an option for families who otherwise could not afford home ownership. And once the foundation is poured, little other heavy equipment is needed, except for a jack to remove the wheels.

Modular Home Options

Modular homes are homes that are partially constructed at the factory, transported to the job site, and then assembled. These types of homes are typically more elaborate and contain more amenities than plain manufactured housing. Modular homes also require the assistance of heavy construction equipment such as overhead cranes in their assembly, making them more expensive options than plain mobile homes. But once assembled, it's difficult to tell the difference between this type of home and its traditional stick-built counterpart. Modular homes retain their resale value much better than manufactured housing, as upon completion, they're considered actual real estate.

For contemporary homeowners who desire affordable housing in a hurry, prefabricated homes, modular homes and even log homes constructed from kits are still viable options. For the price, ease of ownership, and convenient building methods, these homes are hard to beat for families who want a home of their own without the traditional wait and expense of a stick-built alternative. And if you're someone who wants to build your home yourself, prefab homes are an easy way to accomplish the task. Just be sure to know your limits when it comes to construction, and especially wiring. And call in an expert from a company like Central Electric Inc when you're in over your head.