So, you’re thinking about building a kit home in Brisbane? Over the last several years, kit homes have become an increasingly popular option, and one of just several alternative, non “stick-built” housing options.
You may have also heard the labels “prefab”, “prebuilt”, or “modular”, used concurrently. And maybe you’ve also heard other non-traditional home types mentioned in the same conversations–pod homes, granny flats, tiny homes, flatpack homes, or even pole barn homes.
The upshot is this: As building technologies, systems and processes improve, more and more people are realizing the benefits of alternative home construction.
Kit Home Manufacturers in Brisbane
Here are some of the best kit home manufacturers in Brisbane (and surrounding Queensland) to consider:
ModnPods – Some of the most modern offerings in the prefab/kit home space, ModnPods definitely have “the look.” Sleek, black metal exteriors with lots of glass and timber accents and cladding. Off grid, with solar panels, rainwater harvesting tanks, composting toilets and more. Arundel, QLD
Westbuilt Homes – Founded in 1993 by industry pioneer Jim Westerman, this family-owned, family-run company has evolved over the last 3 decades to the large team and loads of completed builds. Showrooms in Loganholme and Warwick, QLD.
Hoek Modular Homes – Formed in 1967 as a family partnership, Hoek has been building kits, granny flats and portable homes since 2000. Lawnton, QLD.
Valley Kit Homes – Established in 1995, Valley Kit Homes provides quality steel frame kit homes for owner builders. If you’re keen to play an active part in building your new home (and save a bit of money while you’re at it), have a look at their range. Sumner Park, QLD
Queensland Granny Flats – Comfortable, cost-effective and modern granny flat designs, with a fully built model that you can visit. With high efficiency ratings and the flexibility to be used in urban, suburban and rural settings, QGF promises a 12 week construction time. Daisy Hill, QLD
Just Kits – Kits that are suitable for 1 or 2 bedroom homes, granny flats, caravan parks, AirBnb, garages, or even commercial uses. Pialba, QLD
Met Kit Homes – In partnership with Paal Kit Homes, Met Kit offers dramatic cost savings while not skimping on quality. With the motto on their website boasting, “Now, anyone can build!”, there are also options for owner building to save even more. Caboolture, QLD.
Frame Steel – Steel frame home and granny flat kits for the DIY owner builder. Plans, cuts, and exterior walls and roof trusses come pre-assembled and ready to stand, with different trim packages and options available. Yatala, QLD.
Home Build Concierge – As part of the Kitome group, Home Build Concierge has roots in the business since 1996. With HBC, every owner builder is assigned an advocate to assist from beginning to end with designs, materials, fabrication, acting as a liaison with suppliers, From the ground up, this is the solution for owner builders, with a timeline to completion in just under a year.
Ezy Homes Australia – Since 2000, Ezy Homes has constructed more than 500 steel pole homes across Australia and the Pacific. Easy and affordable to build on difficult, remote, and sloping sites. Beensleigh, QLD.
Kline Homes – Specializing in pole homes in and around the Gold Coast, Kline can access and develop narrow blocks, sloping blocks, and other hard to access areas, with sustainable, environmentally sensitive materials and practices. Gold Coast, QLD
Salt Air Homes – Prefabricated modular homes throughout Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast with sleek, modern flair. Winners of the Housing Industry Association’s Innovation award for the last 5 years. Coolum Beach, QLD.
CNH Transportable Homes – As the name might suggest, CNH specializes in portable homes, offices, cabins and caravans. Established in 2007. Chinchilla, QLD
Imagine Kit Homes – With 500+ floor plans and a “BYO plan” option, Imagine truly has something for everyone. The company has a presence in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and is based out of Loganholme, QLD.
Alphaline Tiny Homes – Offering turnkey or DIY tiny kit homes on wheels, with heaps of customizations you can select during your visit to their colour and design studio–materials, textures, samples, it’s all on display. Rocklea, QLD
NQ Sheds and Patios – Premium steel buildings ranging from carports, sheds, and kit homes (through their Queensland Kit Homes company), using only local Australian products. Because they are part of a large buying group for steel buildings, they can offer tremendous pricing. Smithfield, QLD
Benefits of Kit Home Construction
So just what exactly are the ideas, goals, and benefits propelling these new housing types? Here are the big ones:
Producing several of the same units in a factory means that manufacturers can profit from the economies of scale, and pass on some of these savings to the end user. There is significantly less time spent in problem solving and “working out the kinks”, so the end product can be delivered less expensively.
There is also less material waste, and less man hours wasted in repeated travel to a building site. All of these result in lower overall costs, and a lower consumer price tag.
And finally, not having to site build a home means that the home is less susceptible to losses during construction from water damage, rust, or theft.
Because the construction of kit and prefab homes occurs largely in the controlled environment of a factory, timelines are almost never interrupted or upset by weather (or transportation issues), resulting in shorter build times.
Another benefit of the off-site construction is that the home can be built at the same time that the dirt work, foundation, driveway approach, or utility work are happening.
And with a ready made set of plans and many of the issues already worked out, a kit or prefab home can also frequently be permitted in a shorter amount of time than a “one off” home.
Save The Earth
As mentioned above, one of the most green and eco aspects of kit home construction is the ability to significantly eliminate waste. This means that each home produced in a factory requires fewer total resources and less total energy to build.
Another feature of kit building is that homes are frequently made of materials that are eco friendly and/or sustainable. Often manufacturers are using materials like bamboo, low VOC insulation, cross-laminated timber (CLT), structural steel, and more. Sometimes these homes are even manufactured with the end goal of being largely recyclable.
In many cases, kit homes have a smaller footprint and total size, meaning that they require less earth disturbance or disruption at the building site for a foundation. The smaller overall size also lends itself to increased energy efficiency once the house is complete.
Several prefab and modular built homes opt for environmentally friendly systems, such as solar panels, high efficiency hot water, heating and cooling, rainwater harvesting, grey water systems and more. This also gives these homes the flexibility to be built in more remote locations.
Finally, one of the hallmarks of more modern home kits is the attempt to incorporate passive solar thermal design principles into the build. With the strategic placement of windows, the angle of the home, overhangs, and materials selection, kit builds are delivering a home that is more comfortable in both the winter and summer, and requires less energy to be so.
Overall Higher Quality
In general, there are some quality and quality control measures that can often be delivered at a more affordable price per foot with kit homes than with traditional stick built homes, including:
Less mold, mildew, and rust: a tighter and more exact building envelope means that the home is less susceptible to moisture, and all of the things that come along with it.
Fewer toxins: Although this isn’t universal, many kit and prefab homes are made with materials that are low-toxic, low-VOC, and otherwise more natural materials. There is a shared ethos among many in the industry that focuses on health, well-being, and sustainability.
Challenges of Kit Built Homes
With all these benefits, what are the downsides to kit built homes? Here are the main drawbacks that are wise to consider:
Kit Homes Can Be Difficult to Finance
Even though this is getting better all the time, it is still more difficult to finance a modular or kit home than it is a traditional stick built home. Quite simply, this is because it’s hard for lenders to define what it is, and then assign a specific value to it.
Is a kit home a mobile home? Is it a pile of parts?
On the whole, there are just fewer comparisons out there for lenders to be able to use as comps, and in a risk-averse industry like lending and finance, anything that seems different can be an uphill battle.
Thankfully, there are some options. Several manufacturers have created flexible payment terms for customers purchasing directly from them. There are also some lenders that can issue loans for a kit home–construction loans, mobile/modular home loans, etc.
Limited Customizations Available
It probably goes without saying, but many of the advantages of a kit home can also be considered disadvantages. Customizations are one. In order for a manufacturer to reap the benefits of a well-thought out home design and the economies of scale, you can’t “reinvent the wheel” each time.
Kit homes aren’t intended to be wildly modified from their original design. While most manufacturers do allow for some modifications, there are fees associated with this (either on an hourly or per square foot basis), and in some cases, it’s just not possible. Speak with your manufacturer early to communicate the changes that are important to you, and be realistic about the fees or limitations that you may end up with.
In Some Cases, They’re Not Actually That Much Cheaper
This leads us to our final consideration, which is, that in some cases, building a kit home may not actually end up being cheaper than a traditionally built home. For as much as we all want the cost-savings to be significant, in some cases, it won’t end up that way.
Design choices, materials used, the amount of site prep involved (grading and dirt work, foundation, delivering utilities, etc), as well as any unforeseen issues that arise, may ultimately render your kit or prefab home more expensive than its traditional counterpart.
The biggest recommendation here is to be crystal clear about what is included in your kit home package:
- Who is building/assembling their home, and how much are they not doing?
- What are the delivery/transportation fees of your home?
- How many of the interior finishes will be included? (Doors, cabinetry, etc)
- Who is performing electrical, plumbing and HVAC?
What Are the Components of Kit Houses?
So, what are the individual milestones and components you can expect to address when building a kit home? Although every manufacturer’s systems and processes vary, in general, you can expect:
- Design: Finalize the home design you are interested in, as well as any customizations that you are requesting.
- Land: Although this typically happens outside of the manufacturer, it is obviously a significant component that needs to be firmed up well before you build. Are there any legal restrictions against building the type of home you are wanting to? Be sure to check council and state restrictions
- Timelines: According to the design, customizations, and materials lead times, the manufacturer should be able to give you at least a rough schedule of when to expect things to happen.
- Financing: How will you pay for and purchase your home? Are you hoping to do this through a conventional lender? Make payments directly to the kit home manufacturer?
- Permitting: One of the advantages of building a kit home is that frequently the manufacturer will already have designs and drawings that have been previously approved by other councils. This should make getting a permit easier, but it is usually still the homeowner responsibility (if you have a builder helping you with your kit home, sometimes they handle this aspect).
- Prep work: It is your responsibility to make sure there is adequate driveway and road access to the build site, develop the foundation, and arrange to have water and utilities brought to the site.
- Delivery/Construction: The final piece of your kit home is the actual delivery and assembly. This could look different depending on what kind of home you have opted for. If your kit home is actually more of a modular prefab, than it may arrive to your home site already mostly built. On the other hand, if it is a true “kit”, it will likely involve a much more ground-up building process.