What are the Different Types of Prefab Design?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Prefabrication design, which is also commonly called prefab design, is a design technique that allows for large components of a single structure to be assembled in different places. Then, these components are brought together to complete the structure. A common example of prefab design is the mobile home. Despite the fact that these structures are called "mobile" homes, they generally remain in one place. The name comes from the fact that the design was inspired by the kinds of homes that can be hitched to the back of a car or truck for use during vacation or for those living a nomadic lifestyle.

Prefab design may be used in building large multi-unit residential structures.
Prefab design may be used in building large multi-unit residential structures.

The more common type of stationary mobile homes are almost always completely assembled off-site. The only on-site structure that is required is the foundation for the mobile home, usually a poured concrete slab.

Mobile homes are not the only structures that rely on prefab design. In fact, it is now possible to purchase larger, two-story homes that are made from prefabricated components. Normally, in the cases of these larger houses, there is significantly more on-site assembly required than there is for the installation of a mobile home.

Prefab design is also used in large multi-unit residential structures such as housing developments and apartment blocks. If many of the residential units are identical in their design, then it is possible to use prefab design instead of traditional on site construction. Furthermore, the quality of prefab design has improved enough in recent years so that, in some cases, it is possible for a prefab structure to blend in with traditionally constructed structures.

Warehouses, factory buildings, and office blocks can also be constructed from prefabricated components. Such large buildings often rely on sections of steel, glass, and concrete that have been prepared off site. Because some construction sites are small or low on space, it is sometimes necessary to have large components assembled off-site. Concrete slabs, for example, take up quite a lot of space while they are being poured and while they are drying.

It is also common for prefab sections to be used in the construction of vehicles, heavy machinery, aircraft, spacecraft, and sea-faring ships. It is not uncommon for the components of such items to be manufactured in numerous different countries before being brought together in one place for the assembly of the final product. An entire wing of an aircraft, for example, might be prefabricated. The same is true for fuselages.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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