What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the word kit?
Maybe the model airplane or lego kit you recently purchased for your children, but most likely, it wasn’t this.
Do you really believe the term “kit home” gives justice to a custom-designed and carefully built home of that scale? Neither do we.
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s dive into the differences between a prefab home kit and a prefab home material package. We’ll define both styles of home and touch on some of the key similarities and differences of each.
What is a Prefab Home Kit?
Prefab home kits are efficient and straightforward solutions to new construction. A kit is typically composed of all of the framing, siding, and roof paneling needed to enclose the exterior shell of a structure.
Kit’s have been a solution for streamlined new construction projects dating back to the very early 1900s. This article from Architect Magazine Assembly Required: A Brief History of 20th-Century Kit Home Designs provides an excellent view into the construction style’s roots.
What prefab home kits lack are the amenities many people search for when exploring new construction possibilities. They are standardized; one size fits all models that can’t be customized beyond the interior finish. Kit homes are a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) style of housing.
Standardization defeats the purpose of building a custom home. When you’re ready to spend your hard-earned savings on a new construction project, your own fingerprints should be all over those plans.
What is a Prefab Material Package?
Prefab material packages share many similarities with prefab home kits, but it’s the differences that set the two apart. A prefab material package consists of all of the prefabricated framing and paneling necessary for the assembly of the exterior shell of an entirely custom-designed home.
The prefabrication refers to the sizing, cutting, and fitting of materials at an off-site facility so that they are ready to be assembled with reduced labor when they arrive at the build’s location. The material package refers to the materials that are prefabricated per plans specific to the project.
So, What's Really The Difference?
Made it this far? Well, you’re probably still wondering what the difference really is between a prefab home and a prefab material package. Well, here it is.
In concept, kits and material packages are the same exact things! The term Kit has just gained a negative connotation over time. Kit’s are often thought of as DIY projects, and one size fits all solutions.
The term material package is far broader and encompassing of the actual custom construction process. A material package can be designed, engineered, prefabricated, and assembled from the ground up.
When selecting a kit, you have to search for a floor plan that best fits your needs and desires.
Designing a material package involves one-on-one interaction with an architectural designer, where you get to define what is best.
Engineering is one of the main factors of differentiation between kits and material packages. Kit home providers are often limited in their reach in regards to where their homes can be constructed. Different locations have different building restrictions that can vary drastically. This typically impacts the number of models that can be built in any given area.
When constructing a home from a material package, there are far fewer limitations. The process all begins with architectural design. This ensures that local code requirements are discussed upfront and factored into the design from the very start. Once the design is complete, the plan is engineered to the location of the property, then sent to prefabrication.
Kit home prefabrication, as mentioned above, is volume-oriented. The focus is on innovation for faster production rather than quality production and a variety of options. Although this does help the kit supplier reduce costs and pass those savings along to the consumer, you’re still faced with far more limitations.
Material package prefabrication is a unique process. Each package is custom-designed, which translates into a unique prefabrication process for every project. There’s no setting on the CNC machine to produce a material package. Each component is manually entered per project, then hand-finished and test fit prior to shipping and assembly.
Material package and kit home assembly are very similar. With all components prefabricated before arrival on the job site, the assembly process is tidy and streamlined. Prefabrication of any material translates into significantly less job-site waste as well as cost savings on labor.
Where kits and material packages begin to differentiate in regards to assembly is the scale of the structure. Prefab kit homes are typically modest homes, under 4,000 square feet, with footprints designed to sit on smaller residential lots. These homes are production homes, designed to be assembled fast.
Prefabricated material packages go up quickly but with a few more factors involved. As a custom-designed home, there is a level of quality craftsmanship that shines through at every step of the process. Packages are also not faced with any size limitations. The larger the project, the longer the timeline, but that’s just common sense!
Interested in Learning More?
We’ve covered a lot of information, but see how this construction style still may be confusing to some. To better understand material package prefabrication, we encourage you to check out the TBS Process. Journey step by step, from design through turnkey completion, and see what it takes to prefabricate a material package for any structure.
Browse through our existing models and capture the scale, complexity, and aesthetic you can achieve with a prefabricated home material package. Just keep in mind, these models are just starting points that can be modified to fit your exact needs and desires.
Want to hear more about it from one of the TBS team members? We appreciate you taking the time to read our article and look forward to hearing from you. Leave us any questions you may have in the form below, and one of our project managers will be in touch.