new wooden frame house under construction, outdoor residential home

Modular or frame house?

Frame houses, for a long time, have been associated mainly with summer houses, and are an interesting alternative to traditional brick buildings. But how do they compare to modular homes? How are the two technologies different and which one is better to choose when building your own apartment?

What is the difference between a frame house and a modular one?

Frame houses are built using timber frame construction. What may come as a surprise to many, these buildings can be built in several systems: Canadian, Scandinavian or German. They differ in the construction of the frame, the layout of the outer wall layers and the performance parameters. However, most often frame houses are spoken of in the context of buildings erected using the Canadian method, which was the first to appear in our country. Like any technology, this one also has both advantages and disadvantages. So what is worth knowing when asking yourself the question: modular or frame house?

Modular and frame houses - construction speed

When considering whether a prefabricated house or a frame house is a better choice, it is worth considering, among other things, the time of investment implementation. In the case of modular houses, it is extremely short, which makes the construction time one of the most frequently indicated advantages of this technology. Although a lot depends on the area of the building or the technologies used in it, modular all-year-round houses are usually ready for use within a few or several weeks from the start of work. How it's possible?

In the case of objects made of prefabricated elements, more than 90% take place in a closed production plant. The works can therefore be carried out at any time of the year, regardless of the prevailing weather conditions. The risk of delays is also minimal - when building in modular technology, there are rarely errors in execution, while all raw materials are immediately ordered in the necessary quantities at the beginning of implementation.

Frame houses, on the other hand, can be built in two ways: directly on the investment site or from prefabricated elements previously prepared in the production hall. As the necessity to perform wet works is limited to the execution of foundations, the skeleton technology is characterized by independence from weather conditions, similar to the modular one. The average time to build a frame house is several months - so it is slightly longer than that of a modular building, although the size of the building and the technologies used are of course also important.

The durability of the construction of modular and frame houses

When deciding whether to choose a modular or frame house, the durability of the structure should also be taken into account. Modular technology uses high-quality materials, and the structures are erected according to the requirements of Swedish or German licenses. As a result, the durability of modular buildings is counted in tens of years. In contrast, frame houses were for many years associated with impermanence. However, one should be aware that the raw materials used must meet a number of requirements - so a properly constructed frame house can be just as durable as a modular or even a brick building.

Modular and frame houses and energy efficiency

Modular houses are energy-efficient buildings. Although the walls are relatively thin, they are very well insulated. Houses erected in modular technology are therefore characterized by great insulation parameters, and thanks to the smaller thickness of the walls, it is possible to obtain a larger living space. In modular houses, there is also a low risk of thermal bridges, i.e. places where heat escapes. The energy-saving nature of buildings made of modules also reduces the subsequent operating costs.

It is a bit different in the case of frame houses. Their biggest disadvantages include, among others, rapid heating and cooling of the interior, which may translate into heating costs. However, a lot also depends on the technologies used in the building. A skeleton structure can achieve a passive standard, but only if it is tightly built and equipped with a mechanical ventilation system for recuperation. To improve the energy efficiency of a frame house, it is also worth considering a renewable energy heating system.

Modular or frame house? Design selection

When answering the question of whether a prefabricated house or a frame house is better, freedom in choosing the building design is also important to consider. Modular house projects are characterized by an increasing variety, both in terms of surface and style of finishing. So you can choose a small modular house of 35 m2, as well as a slightly larger building, maintained in a different standard and in almost any style.

Usually, however, modular houses have a simple, regular shape, although a significant compensation is the possibility of almost unlimited building expansion with new modules. The backbone technology can be a bit more flexible in this respect, which creates greater possibilities for shaping the body of the building. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that in this case, a lot depends on the chosen construction system and the quality of the materials used.

Modular and frame houses - what is the cost of construction?

Both modular and frame houses are a cheaper alternative to buildings erected using traditional methods. But how do these technologies compare? The cost of building a modular house depends primarily on the type of technology used, and thus on the materials used.

The prices of modular houses with a frame structure - wooden or steel - start from about PLN 1,400 net per square meter. When the components are made of expanded clay aggregate, the cost of a house in a closed shell condition is at least PLN 1700 per square meter, and in the finished condition – but not less than PLN 2000.

A similar price range applies to frame houses, although the lower limit is slightly higher in this case. It is assumed that depending on the design, area, scope and finishing standard, the cost of building a frame house ranges from 1900 to 2700 per square meter. Thus, we also get an answer to the question of whether a frame house is cheaper than a brick one - often yes, especially in the face of recent increases in the prices of building materials. whether a frame house is cheaper than a brick house - Often yes, especially in view of recent increases in the price of construction materials.

Necessary building permits for a modular and frame house

As of January 2022, under the regulations introduced with the Polish Order, it is possible to build without a permit a house with a built-up area after the outline of up to 70 m2Cottages without
planning permission
 can therefore be larger than before - previously the building area could not exceed 35 m2.

Therefore, the key criterion here is not the material from which the building is made - if the above-mentioned value is higher than 70 m2, it is necessary to obtain a traditional building permit, regardless of whether the house is built in modular or frame technology.

Summary - modular or frame house?

Modular and frame houses are serious competition for brick buildings. So how do you choose between these two technologies? Both modular and frame houses have numerous advantages, although the investment implementation time, energy efficiency and construction costs may speak in favour of the former. Therefore, the key should be the needs and expectations of the investor who, after considering all the pros and cons, can make the best decision for themselves.