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What are prefab buildings?

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Prefabricated buildings are structures that are built at a factory and then shipped to the building location in pieces for assembly. Prefabricated buildings may be residential or commercial structures, although they traditionally have been used more in residential settings. As of 2015, all new construction relies on some degree of prefabrication.

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Prefabricated building types include modular, panelized, shipping container and pre-cut buildings. Modular homes consist of one or more factory-built modules, with most of the interior construction completed at the factory. Panelized buildings consist of factory-built panels, require extensive interior finishing work and allow for more customization than modular homes. Shipping container homes are made from industrial shipping containers, can be shipped internationally and have a modern, eclectic style. Pre-cut buildings, which include log cabin and dome homes, are sold as kits and are popular with buyers who wish to build their own homes.

Prefabricated buildings are made of the same materials as traditional structures. Like structures built on-site, they are considered real estate and appreciate in value over time. Their quality of construction is often higher because a factory setting frees carpenters from weather constraints. Prefabricated buildings save 20 percent or more in construction costs over structures built at the job site because labor costs are significantly lower as prefabricated factory workers largely are not unionized. Prefabricated buildings typically require less time to build.

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