Prefabricated houses: The pros and cons of buying and building a prefabricated house

Living the dream: What the prefabricated house offers

The prefabricated house is a sought-after alternative to traditional solid structure homes in Switzerland. Faster and more cost-effective to build, each new home is ready for occupation within a few months. However, there are also disadvantages. 

Prefabricated houses – homes built according to modular designs

Did you enjoy playing with building blocks as a child? Two as a foundation, one as a roof, and presto! You had a house. This is the idea behind the lifestyle trend of prefabricated homes. Prefabricated structural components are manufactured in production facilities and constructed on site based on a modular design principle. This not only saves time, but money too. Sounds tempting, doesn't it? The question of whether a prefabricated house could actually make your dream home a reality depends on several factors. Learn more about the most important advantages and disadvantages and what you should be aware of when the contract is concluded.

Advantages of a prefabricated house

  • Prefabricated houses can usually be viewed at showhome parks before construction begins. This gives the builder-owner a chance to set foot inside their dream house before they buy it and get an idea of what their own home could eventually look like.
  • The list price for prefabricated houses is lower than for solid structures, making them a cost-effective option for those longing to own a single family dwelling, provided no individual changes are made to the blueprints.
  • The construction process does not take as long. Standardized building plans, prefabricated structural components and the ability to assemble the shell of the building regardless of the weather all help to save time. 
  • A prefabricated house is ready to be moved into as soon as the interior fit-out is complete, without the need for the months of drying required for a stone building. This reduces the double financial burden of mortgage payments and rent.
  • Building prefabricated houses with wooden panels gives them integrated thermal insulation, lowering heating costs and making them energy efficient.
  • Prefabricated house manufacturers act as general contractors, giving the client a point for contact for all of their concerns. This usually results in fewer communication issues during the planning and implementation stages.

Disadvantages of a prefabricated house

  • Prefabricated houses offer restricted possibilities for layout planning and architectural design. Client-specific changes are only possible to a limited extent.
  • Preliminary work and additional services are often not included in the offer price. The price of a prefabricated house can be similar to that of a solid structure depending on the services provided and the degree of customization.
  • Walls and roofs have reduced sound insulation due to their wooden construction. Higher levels of noise pollution should be taken into consideration if the house is being built on a very busy street or is being planned as a duplex house.
  • Prefabricated houses are less robust than solid structures and may be more vulnerable to water damage or vermin infestation depending on their quality.
  • As the majority of prefabricated houses are made from wood, their lifespan is shorter than that of a solid structure made from masonry and concrete.
  • The shorter lifespan of a prefabricated house means its resale value is also lower. Anyone considering real estate as a financial investment should opt for a solid structure instead.

Building a prefabricated house with your eyes open

Many prefabricated houses in Switzerland are offered at a fixed turnkey price. Turnkey means that the general contractor carries out all of the work. But beware: the services included in this fixed price differ from one provider to the next, making it difficult for builder-owners to estimate the total cost of their home. As a result, it is important to request a detailed construction and service description for the sake of comparability. This forms the basis of the contract and must include information about quantities and material specifications as well as the quality and price of the individual components.

Before signing the contract, it is important to check whether preliminary work such as ground investigations, construction site power and water connections, bulk waste containers, traffic access, and insurance are included in the price. When completing a turnkey handover, you and your lender should agree in advance whether sanitary installations, flooring, wallpaper and painting are included. It is also advisable to set a binding completion date when concluding the contract and to only make payments based on the progress of the build. You can avoid unpleasant surprises by thoroughly planning and checking the contract.

When building a prefabricated house is worth the effort 

If you want to build a house for less and find a model that you like, a prefabricated house could be the key to your dream home. The general contractor carries out the project, and you get everything from a single source. This makes it easier for you to plan and shortens the waiting time so that you can move into your new house in no time.

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