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House construction project: Solid or prefabricated house?

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House construction project: Solid or prefabricated house?

Which house type suits me? Construction of a prefabricated house in Bavaria

© IMAGO / Rolf Poss

Anyone who wants to build a house has many options: physically alone, with partial participation or completely by someone else. What advantages and disadvantages builders should pay attention to.

Solid or finished? This is a question that many future home builders ask themselves. While the prefabricated house used to only come onto the market with simple equipment, but scored points in terms of price and construction time, the solid house was particularly convincing due to its high-quality construction and individuality. Admittedly, these points still tend to be true. However, the offer for both house types has become significantly larger and more diverse. With that, their differences disappear. The palette ranges from tiny houses to multi-storey luxury villas. This makes it all the more important for future property owners to find out about the right model in advance.

Anyone interested in a prefabricated house will find what they are looking for from providers such as Viebrockhaus, Kampa, Dennert Massivhaus and Massa. An advantage: the finished models can be viewed in advance in a model house park and sometimes it is even possible to try them out. In addition, the house can be built regardless of the weather, because the individual parts are manufactured in warehouses and then only have to be assembled. This shortens the construction time and saves craftsmen – at least for series models. However, the so-called type houses only make up a third of all prefabricated houses.

There are a total of three different ready-made options to choose from: the turnkey, the expansion and the kit house. Those who are not technically gifted should choose the turnkey variant. For the other two, personal contributions are required, although these can sometimes extend to the shell.

Increasing susceptibility to errors

Also good to know: The term “on-site services” refers to all work that is part of the house but is to be borne by the client, such as excavation or the floor slab. Builders can outsource this work to external companies and still save money compared to the turnkey variant. The problem with additional work by external companies: They are not the responsibility of the prefabricated house company, which can complicate the question of liability in the event of defects. The more different craftsmen are involved, the more difficult it can be to provide proof.

And defects are more common when building a house than you think. According to a study by the Institute for Building Research (IFB), three quarters of all private new construction projects have defects during the warranty period. This is also related to the increasingly complex construction and technical parts, says Florian Becker, Managing Director of the Bauherren-Schutzbund (BSB), who commissioned the study: “Construction is becoming more and more demanding overall. This also increases the susceptibility to errors.”

Irrespective of all the challenges and risks that builders see themselves confronted with on their way to their dream property: What counts in the end is the finished property and its appearance, equipment and design – and that is ultimately a question of taste. Anyone who places great value on the most personal touch possible is usually better served with a solid house than with a prefabricated house.

“Plan from the bottom up”

It is true that prefabricated houses can be designed more and more individually and sometimes have prefabricated elements in solid construction, such as walls made of brick, reinforced concrete or lightweight concrete. But with a solid house, builders can exert much more influence on individual details and, if necessary, award orders to different trades. Theoretically, there are only a few limits here – but of course with corresponding costs. While there are prefabricated houses from 1000 euros per square meter (depending on the equipment variant), the square meter price for the solid variant is around 2000 euros.

Builders of solid houses can reduce their costs by actively participating in the construction process as part of a so-called muscle mortgage. For many, this is a clear advantage over the prefabricated house variant. In addition, solid houses also score with a longer lifetime and value – financially, but also in terms of soundproofing, thermal insulation and living climate.

Both house types have their advantages and disadvantages, which future builders should carefully weigh against each other. With the golden rule in mind: “Plan from the bottom up” – because livability comes before luxury.

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