The Canadian Manufactured Housing Institute became the CHBA Modular Construction Council in 2017. Visit for information.


What is Factory-Built Housing?


As the name implies, factory-built housing refers to homes that are built in a factory, or manufacturing facility. There are a number of building systems that result in varying degrees of completion in the factory before delivery to the building site. Factory-built homes are available in many sizes, designs, and layouts, with a wide selection of standard and customized features.

Modular homes are built in a factory as three-dimensional modules that may be combined on-site to make one-, two- or three-storey homes. Typically, a bungalow will consist of one or two modules, while a two-storey home will use four or five, or more modules. The homes are typically set on full-perimeter foundations—a crawl space or full basement—but may also be placed on surface-mount foundations. Insulation, air/vapour barrier, plumbing, wiring, exterior siding and other construction details are largely completed in the factory. Interior work is usually well advanced, including drywall, trim, flooring, cabinets and bathroom fixtures. Finishing the home on-site generally takes a couple of weeks, sometimes more, depending on the size, style and features of the home. Some features are best done on-site, such as brick siding and some types of flooring.

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Manufactured homes are typically built in one section, although some manufacturers offer these homes in two sections as well. Manufactured homes are virtually complete when they leave the factory—often ready for move-in the same day or a few days after arriving on the site. Due to their unique structural design, these homes can be installed on surface-mount foundations, such as piers. They can also be relocated, although most are never moved from their original site.

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Panelized homes refer to homes built with pre-fabricated wall, floor and/or roof assemblies. Panels may be partially or fully completed in the factory, with windows, doors and siding often installed already. They are shipped flat to the site where they are assembled, and the home is finished inside and out. The use of panels reduces on-site construction time significantly.
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Pre-engineered homes are essentially "pre-packaged" homes. All major building components are prepared in the factory and shipped to the building site ready for assembly—including framing materials, doors, windows, roofing, siding, interior wall partitions and sub-flooring. The pre-engineered building system emphasizes precision design and pre-cutting, and can be used for virtually any home design. Return to top of page