Who wouldn’t want a cabin in the woods? Or by a lake? Or what about retiring to that favorite place you’ve dreamed about for years? Today prefab homes can make that dream a reality. Of course, the first step is acquiring the land (which is usually the most difficult part of the process), but then it’s time to get creative with your abode. One way to accomplish that cabin in the woods is through building a prefab home. Prefabs are quicker to build and often less expensive than stick-built.

One company that boasts affordable prefab homes is ideabox. I came across their aktiv design a couple of years ago. Since then, they’ve expanded their models to include floor plans from tiny to smallish. A couple of benefits with this company include pricing listed directly on their website. Many times I come across a terrific prefab site, but when prices aren’t transparent, I immediately think “expensive.” ideabox lists their prices for each floor plan and they are reasonable in the prefab realm (approx. $80K to $155K).

ideabox also breaks down exactly what comes with the house. That’s obviously important because you don’t want to end up with an unfinished box. Not long ago I read about a couple that purchased a prefab (one I actually wrote about and won’t name!) and it was completely unfinished costing the couple tens of thousands of dollars over their budget. Of course, when you’re building a house, stick-built or prefab, it’s important that you ask questions such as, “Will I have cabinets in my kitchen?” and “Does this home come with heating and A/C?” ideabox lists the materials used in their houses such as Cambria quartz counter tops, plank flooring and kitchen appliances.

Interior ideabox prefab home
Interior ideabox prefab home

While I’m touching upon the topic of questions to ask the prefab company, it’s also important to do your homework before the prefab is delivered. Based on my own experience, a couple of things that you need to know (or questions you might need to ask) are:

1.) Do you need to hire a contractor to put the house together once it’s delivered? Most likely, yes. In our own case, the manufactured community we’re moving into works directly with a contractor. The contractor assembles the two halves together (dependent on the size of the house), lays the concrete drive way (and builds the garage), builds the walkway and staircase to the house, and puts the skirting around the base of the house. If you’re moving your home onto land you own, you might have to hire a contractor to complete these items.

2.) How will you get water, power, gas, and sewer? Another plus to moving into a prefab community is that all of this is right on site. However, if you are purchasing raw land, you will have to find out if there is access to water and sewer. If you can drill a well and install a septic tank, that might be an option. Access to electricity is important and can be expensive if your land is in a remote area. Going “off-grid” might sound great, but do your homework and make sure it’s a viable option. You don’t want to worry about running the dryer and having your heater go out on you in the middle of winter.

3.) Does the land you purchased need preparation? This should be listed as question number one, I suppose, but prepping the land can cost as much as the house itself depending on where it’s located. My cousin is currently building a house in the forest and they are chopping down trees themselves (they gave themselves a three year plan). Soil testing is also important as you don’t want to build a home on a marsh or have your home sink or slip off a hillside. Again, this is another benefit to moving into a prefab community – all the lots are prepped and ready to go.

If you’re interested in additional prefab houses, check out Michael Janzen’s Tiny House Plans.

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