Prefab or “Prefabulous” – Panelized, Modular or Package Home?

If you’ve been doing your research on new, sustainable homes, you will have come across the term “prefabricated” – or even “prefabulous”. This term has undergone a makeover in recent years. In actual fact, there are many kinds of prefabricated homes – from panelized, to modular, to packaged. We’ve outlined some of the key differences.

Prefabricated new modular homes
The prefabricated, modular new homes pictured here are very different from the ‘package homes’ or ‘home packages’ provided by Linwood.

Prefab or Prefabricated Homes:

Today, “prefab” is an umbrella term used to describe any type of home that is made from key building parts that were manufactured off-site. It also describes key building components that are created in “a controlled factory environment.” When defined in this manner, all of the home types mentioned below are prefabricated. As outlined by author and environmentalist Sheri Koones in her book Prefabulous & Sustainable, “Prefab isn’t just a way of building – it’s many different ways of building.” Koones notes several advantages to this type of construction, such as:

  • controlled manufacturing environment
  • substantially reduced waste
  • fast-tracked construction timeframe
  • cost savings on labor and materials

However, not all prefabricated homes are the same. To understand the real difference in “prefab” it’s important to look at the material, manufacturing processes and final construction methods used.


Panelized walls for new homes
Panelized walls for new homes.

Panelized Homes

These homes are constructed with “Structural Insulated Panels” (SIPs) that are typically created by foam insulation pressed between two outer structural panels of plywood or strandboard. Transportable sections of panelized homes, often with windows and doors in place, are built in factories and then shipped flat on trucks to the building site, where the home is pieced together.

Modular Homes

These homes are comprised of one or more “modules” or “boxes”, which are preassembled in factories, and then shipped in sections by transport truck to where they are matched to a premeasured building foundation or site location.

Modular home factory
New homes being built in modular home factory.

Home Packages – Timber Frame or Post & Beam

Linwood supplies timber frame home packages. In timber frame construction, a builder works on the home site to create the main structure or supporting frame of the home by connecting mortise-and-tenon joints formed by inserting the end of one piece of timber into the other. The package materials are premeasured and shipped to the site.

Post and beam build
A Linwood Post and Beam series home package under construction on the building site.

Linwood supplies post & beam home packages. In post & beam construction, vertical posts support the roof and floor beams. Connections between the posts and beams are made with metal connectors on the building site. The components of a Linwood premium home package include the following in premeasured quantities shipped to the building site to be constructed by a quality builder:

  • superior framing lumber
  • plywood subfloor
  • premium Douglas fir glu-lam beams and/or optional solid beams, and connectors
  • brand name windows and exterior doors
  • brand name building wrap
  • exterior wall sheathing
  • Western Red Cedar exterior siding and trim, or other low-maintenance siding options
  • superior roofing system
  • optional pine or cedar interior liner
  • optional decking materials

The Linwood home package system is one of the most efficient and healthy methods of building a value-added, new home. Post & beam and timber frame packages using Linwood construction drawings and quality materials enable a solid structure with the opportunity for vaulted ceilings, large expanses of windows, and bright, open-concept living spaces.

If you’re interested in building from a Linwood home package, start by looking at the hundreds of designs and plans offered on the Linwood web site. You can select what you see, or have Linwood create a new home design especially for your needs and building site. Your Linwood structural home package will then be assembled and shipped directly to your building site.

All Post & Beam Series and Architectural Series plans on the web site can be fully customized to suit your building lot, building material preferences, and lifestyle. Linwood Classic Series home packages can be ordered from Linwood’s extensive library of pre-existing designs.

Search the Linwood web site for home package plans.