Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I written quite a few articles (over 1,200 actually) about our industry.  I've used the terms Prefab, Modular and System Built to describe the homes we build.  However in recent articles I've written, there has been some backlash to the proper way to describe our homes.

A couple of comments on yesterday's article, Marketing for the Modular Home Factory, brought out a couple of interesting things.  I even got a few emails telling me that we need a term for our industry. 

Sherri Koones, an author that has written several books extolling the benefits of our industry, called our homes "prefab." 

The largest problem the prefab industry has is a lack of education about the subject. There is still the stigma that modulars are double wides.
I have worked really hard to educate the public about the efficiency and beauty of prefab houses through several books I've written on the subject. The industry should support these books and distribute them to potential customers. Every time consumers read my books - there is a good chance they will select prefab for their own projects.

This was followed by a couple of other comments:

I take offense every time I hear someone say prefab in the same breathe as modular. Prefab is the wall portion of the building that is built off site and delivered to the job. A modular home is built is sections and shipped to the site. I know you are an expert in your field but please stop using the terms as if they mean the same thing.  by anonymous
and this one from heywood:

I have to agree with Anonymous 11:16. We really need to all speak the same language. Prefab is a terrible word to use. I don't even like modular. I prefer Industrialized.

Regardless of what word we use, maybe it is time for a major campaign to get us all on the same page.
and this one:
As a generic term, I use "Factory Built Housing". This lets us include all the industrialized sectors; mods, panelized, log, SIP and even HUD. I've tried to avoid anything with the abreviation MH to avoid confision with the Manufactured Housing sector. 
and from an email:
And now that I’ve finished the article and read the comments, please don’t allow any more comments from anyone, regardless of the credentials who use the “P” word.
It would appear from all of this that even the people within our industry don't know what we should call what we build.  No wonder we, as an industry, confuse the very people when we try to market our homes.

I'm open to suggestions but in the meantime, I will only use the word MODULAR to describe what we build.


Heywood said...

As a point of clarification, I like Industrialized as the state labels (at least in PA) call them Industrialized.
Maybe we should just call them "not a manufactured home"!

Anonymous said...

There are so many terms floating around out there to describe MODULAR homes. We hear Prefab, Off-Site, Industrialized, Factory Built, System Built and so on...

The problem I see is that none of these really do our homes any justice. Also, if you go to every single factory web-site, they all refer to them as MODULAR - talk about confusing the consumer!

How many people do you know that want to tell there friends they are building a new Industrialized Home or a Prefab Home or a Factory Built Home?

Tim Watson said...

Sherri's books have been great for our industry. Period.

It's a home, and we are home builders. Some of us built only a segment of the home, and it's finished by another one of us.

We have a unique method of delivering and inspecting a substantial portion of the home.

We complain about labels and being lumped off to the side and then create new labels, and demand to be lumped on the correct side.

Differentiate yourself at the front door with a fantastic house regrdless of size and price. The labels will dissapear.

It's a home, we are home builders.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Ms. Koones, education is the key. The more people know about this industry, the better it will be. We need more publicity. Bob Villa did a show(s) showing a Simplex home being set. There have been others also, but I can't remember specifics. Anon 8:13 wondered how many people would want to tell their friends that they were building a mod, if the avereage person knew what we do, they would know that houses built in factories are superior to site built.
As I've said many times before the modular factory owners and the industry in general need a top of mind type ad campaign similar to "Got milk" or "Beef. It's what's for dinner."

Anonymous said...

How come you're not talking about the article in today's NY Times about the biggest steel mod building to be built, maybe, in NYC?