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Is a Transportable Home Cheaper to Build Than a Site Built Home?


It’s a question that deserves a few moments’ discussion.


Many people have grown up with the belief that a transportable is cheaper than a site built home. That’s ok – we acknowledge and respect that everyone’s entitled to their own view of the world. However, from our experience, we’d like to offer a few comments that challenge this belief.


There’s no rights or wrongs about how you choose to build your home. Whether you choose a site built home or embrace the transportable concept, that’s ok.


Here, we’re just discussing one aspect of building that often arises in discussions with clients: the price. And this isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ question – both building methods have a wide variety of price points.


Firstly, let’s look at why the transportable concept was originally introduced.


Many moons ago in regions around the world where there was significant population growth, the idea of streamlining things by limiting design options and developing a team of tradies and supervisors who could work in one place and out of the weather was very appealing.


The big bosses of the day also saw business advantages in getting more homes to market quickly and with less OH&S risks. In turn, the bean counters began to think there were savings to be had.


But were there?


In theory, it all stacked up. But in practice the market threw some curve balls such as individuality (everyone wanted a home to their own taste) and geographical location (we don’t all live in the same town). Over time, the manufacturers and the market adapted, and where there was a very localised market of limited design variations, it worked.


History boasts many successful examples of transportable homes being built quickly, for very remote locations where there are no trades, and for repetition markets such as holiday villages.


But the industry quickly realised that most of the time it couldn’t offer a cheaper product to the market, and in fact, often they turned out more expensive. Some cost gains were offset in other areas, especially where customisation and geographical spread were involved. Challenges that added extra dollars included:
• Freighting material twice (from the supplier to the manufacturer and then to the final home site)
• Work having to be done twice because of the modular method
• Getting two lots of trades involved (1 in the factory and 1 on site to finish off)
• Lack of trades due to unorthodox building methods


End result? Nice product, happy customer, often got the home quicker, but not necessarily cheaper.


Transportable homes definitely have their place in the market, and they always will have. But we suggest reprogramming your brain when it comes to price: 9 times out of 10 it won’t be more cost effective than a site built home.

Keen to find out more?

Reach out to us. We’re here to help.

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