Modular Design Constraints and Shipping

Modular Design Constraints and Shipping

Modular Design Constraints and Shipping

Have you ever wondered why prefab modular homes are designed in a narrow rectangular shape? The answer revolves around one thing, being the highway.

Every prefab modular home that gets built in a factory needs to be transported to its ultimate site via transport truck and that means the units need to fit the roads that they travel.

Prefab modules are usually transported on a flatbed truck and in British Columbia, Canada and most of North America (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba excluded where sometimes you might see a fully built two story home coming down the highway) the maximum size of a prefab modular building is approximately 6 m (20 feet) wide and 18.3 m (60 feet) long and the shipping height including the trailer cannot exceed 4.7 m (15.5 feet). Typically we build to a maximum of 16 feet wide due to many of the logistical issues that can be encountered when shipping up to 20 feet wide.

According to British Columbia transportation regulations shipping a unit of 16 feet wide requires that the transportation company obtain a special permit, that travel occur only at certain times of day depending on the highway, and that the transport truck carrying the prefab modular home is accompanied by two pilot cars. If the unit is 14.4 feet wide or less, the requirements become a little less stringent, allowing for the use of a single pilot car and freed up hours of transport. If a unit is 12 feet or less, then it’s even easier, and down to 10 feet wide it’s basically a regular load.

Fortunately there is a lot that you can do in 16 by 60 unit which ultimately generates a building with a footprint of 956 sf, which if you have had time to see the Built Prefab Design Catalogue is the exact size of some of our standard models, including the Dakota and the East Bay. Even with the shipping height restrictions prefab modular homes can have interior ceiling heights of 9 or 10 feet, which is taller than many standard site built homes with 8 foot ceilings.

3D computer design or (Building Information Modelling (BIM)) is huge in making sure that each unit is designed in a way that the modular prefab homes can be shipped and it’s imperative that logistical considerations be made during the design process.

The unit size can also be affected by the ultimate location where the building is to be shipped and the amount of crane access available at site. Many industry experts believe that when transporting prefab modular homes to urban core projects like Vancouver, Surrey or the like that units of 14.3 feet wide are the most efficient due to some of the limitations of the city streets.

If you would like to learn more about options or to discuss your project, get in touch with us at or head back to our site at where you can learn more about us,our product, and our process.

Built Prefab designs and manufactures premium prefab modular homes in Kelowna, British Columbia and ships them across Western Canada.

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