Modular Homes.

Modular Homes are the next step in technology in building homes in New Zealand

For the past 150 years New Zealanders have not changed the way in which we build houses. In that time we have improved the way in which we make cars, clothes, records, cell phones, food and pretty much everything else that we produce in large numbers… except for houses.
There have been significant advances in individual building materials (concrete, wood, gib board, and glass to name a few. There have also been significant increases in building requirements. Double glazing is a good example of this.

In other countries in Europe and the America’s, builders have innovated and made huge inroads into the technology and methodology of building prefabricated and modular homes. There are three modular building associations in the USA alone –  the Modular Building Institute , The Portable and Modular Association and The Modular Homes Builders Association . Australia has prefabAUS and the UK has Buildoffsite . In New Zealand we have OffsiteNZ . There is a huge movement worldwide towards modular homes.

The Difference between Prefabrication and Modular.

Prefabricated homes bring back memories of “Prefabs”, those cold and bland classrooms that we used to sit in. That’s not the case any more. Prefabrication is simply the process of manufacturing in a factory. The car you drive, the device you are using to read this, and probably the clothes you wear were made in a factory. Prefabrication of houses is not new. Its been around for 50+ years.

Modular homes take this system one step further and allows for homes to be built in a factory – prefabricated – in a system of predetermined sizes or modules. Modules typically have a particular purpose such as a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or family area. Essentially a home can be designed as a series of modules joined together, and in many cases, stacked on top of each other to make a two storey home.

“Modular is a Process, not a Product.”

– Rob Thomas, FirstBuild

Modular production is a way to build a house. It’s not the house itself. Building a house using modular technology is a more efficient and cost effective way of building. The three main advantages are speed, cost and quality.

There are many advantages in building with a modular factory-based system. By far, the main three advantages of building in a modular format is speed, cost and quality.

Faster Production

Being constructed in a factory where the environment is controlled, modular homes are not subject to the usual problems building outdoors. Building is undertaken in a systematic way. This ensures that construction is undertaken faster, there is a higher quality of product, and building materials are far less likely to be damaged.

At the same time that modules are being manufactured in the factory, siteworks and piles can be undertaken. This parallel work significantly reduces the overall delivery time compared to traditional building methods.   

Cost Effective

Manufacturing in a factory with a controlled environment has inherent advantages. The combination of a faster build time, more efficient transportation of materials, and a factory environment all serve to drive the cost of manufacture down.

This results in direct savings to our customers because they can take possession of their home therefore reducing any debt servicing and/or rent costs.

Safer Production Environment

The controlled methods of Modular construction mean that there is a safer environment in the factory. In New Zealand a significant number of accidents in construction environments are caused by falls from a height, mainly because of the way in which traditional construction sites are arranged. A controlled factory allows for a safer work environment.

More Reliable Timetables

Modular buildings are delivered to the site and immediately made weather-tight when they are connected. There are very few tradesmen required onsite to complete the build. An electrician and plumber are required to connect the services to the home, and to connect each module together. A small number of tradesmen are involved in placing the home on foundations. Because the building time can be predicted with far more certainty than a traditional build time, the onsite delivery dates are far more accurate.

Indoor Weatherproof Construction.

In a factory environment assembly is independent of weather, which can increase work efficiency and avoids damaged building material. As the factory is essentially a production line, processes such as quality control and precision cutting of materials ensure the quality of the product is very high and consistently produced.

Less Waste

Because of the design dimensions of the FirstBuild modules, materials are used efficiently. There are very few offcuts and there is a low level of wasted materials.  This is good for the overall cost of the house and the environment. Waste at the building site is also minimised, further helping to reduce any adverse effect on the environment.

Less Disruption

Most of the building activity associated with modular construction happens in a factory away from the building site. About 80% of project activity is completed away from the site. So, there’s far less noise, pollution, and mess to be endured by neighbours and the local community.

Cost Effective

The combination of a faster build time, more efficient transportation of materials, and a factory environment, all serve to drive down the cost of manufacture. Because you can take possession of your home faster loan servicing and/or rent costs are reduced.


Because modules are designed to be lightweight, the environmental impact on transportation is far less than that of traditional building methods. FirstBuild modules are built with very efficient insulation materials and are far more thermally efficient. This results in lower energy costs and lower CO2 emissions. Modular homes are able to be deconstructed at the end of their life and recycled or reused with minimal impact on landfill.


A far higher level of quality is achievable in a manufacturing environment. A manufacturing system lends itself to higher quality output and a product with higher precision tolerances. This is because a controlled environment allows is precisely that – controlled. Items, that will cause issues with quality and timing, are not present in a manufacturing environment.

In addition, raw materials are stored in such a way that that they are closer to the point at which they are needed and are far less vulnerable to damage.

An active quality control system is in place to ensure that each module it built to the highest standard and each step of the construction process is inspected and recorded for quality control purposes.

In Summary

Modular homes, built in a specialised manufacturing plant, offer major advantages over traditional building methods. Faster build times, lower cost and higher quality are the major advantages when building with FirstBuild Modular Homes.

Check out our designs for 1-5 bedroom homes on our Designs page.