Prefab ADU 101: 2 Common Types and 3 Big Myths to Debunk
Workplace Inspiration

Prefab ADU 101: 2 Common Types and 3 Big Myths to Debunk

|Aug 29, 2022

There is something homeowners who want to avoid the hurdles and headaches that come with tedious construction processes can do: buy Prefab ADUs. 

In recent years, prefab homes have been on the rise in various countries for several reasons. These controlled-building options now include higher quality components, including some technological features, and are made for modern people seeking convenience and comfort. 

In addition, they are often available at affordable prices and can be built off-site to avoid construction noise that can annoy neighbors. 

If you're here, you're likely trying to learn more about them, aren't you? Fortunately, there is a lot of valuable information to answer all your questions. Read on and find out everything you need to know about a prefab ADU, its benefits, types, and more! 

What Is a Prefab ADU?

What Is a Prefab ADU

Before defining the term, it is essential to understand two things: "ADU" stands for "Accessory Dwelling Unit," while "prefab" is short for "prefabricated." Now you have a better idea of ​​what it is, do you? 

You're right! A prefab ADU is a dwelling unit built partially or entirely in a factory. In other words, you only have to install the one you choose, and that's it! In less time than you think, you will have an office pod or a game room in your backyard. 

With a prebuilt ADU, you can add extra space to your property or have another room without going through the tedious building process. Do you know how long it would take to build one from scratch? According to expert construction workers, the average schedule is five to eight months! 

However, if you choose a prefabricated ADU, you only need a few weeks to prepare the site before installation and probably a couple of days to complete the process. After that, you will have that extra space you've always wanted, and it will be ready to use! 

Two Main Types of Prefab ADUs

If you are interested in buying a prefab accessory dwelling unit, you should also keep in mind that there are two types: the modular ADU and the panelized ADU. 

Modular ADUs

Modular ADUs

A modular ADU is the most common type you can find on the market. In fact, modular units are the ones that probably come to mind when you think about a prefab. 

These are the ones that companies usually offer as complete and out-of-the-box units. If you buy one, you only have to wait for it to be delivered and lifted into place. 

A modular ADU often has specific non-changeable floor plans, but you can find a company offering a prefab studio cabin with one or two bedrooms. Actually, most manufacturers have those! Moreover, there are various options for flooring, siding, ceilings, cladding, and other finishes. 

In other words, although a modular ADU is usually built under the same standard, you can customize the one you choose by modifying such options according to your needs or preferences. 

Panelized ADUs

These are built differently. Unlike modular units, a panelized ADU is created from sections erected directly on site. That means companies don't fully manufacture them before they're delivered. 

If you want a panelized ADU, you have to wait for a flatbed truck to deliver the sections to your house. A construction team then handles the installation process. 

These alternatives are popular because they often have multiple sets of plant plans available. Some companies even allow clients to use plans from their own architects! 

Plus, while much of the construction takes place on your lot, choosing a panelized ADU means the company fabricates the wall sections, and you can eliminate on-site framing and noise. 

Benefits of Choosing a Prefab ADU

Benefits of Choosing a Prefab ADU

Prefab accessory dwelling units offer multiple benefits to homeowners, including: 

  • Since they are built off-site, you don't have to wait months to get your prebuilt ADU. These units are the best options for those who need extra backyard space fast.
  • Construction companies behind prefab ADUs often closely monitor the processes to ensure that the units meet superior quality standards and that the materials used are first-class.
  • Choosing a prefabricated ADU also means you will waste less. From the first to the last phase of construction, these units require fewer materials and produce less rubbish.
  • They eliminate the risks associated with construction.
  • There are a lot of models to choose from! You can find ADUs designed to make it easy to work from home or others perfect for creating additional living space in a single-family home. 

3 Common Myths about Prefab UDAs

Now that you know the types of prefab ADUs, you should debunk some myths you have probably heard. Find the truth here! 

Myth 1: You can't use prefab ADUs in various ways because they are illegal. 

Myth 1: You can't use prefab ADUs in various ways

Truth: There's an ocean of different options on the market if you're looking for a prefab accessory dwelling unit. However, you must differentiate some terms before choosing one and making your purchase. 

If you want some extra space in your house's backyard and do a quick search online, you will probably find a work pod, a prefab shed, and other cabin types. They are all useful and can help you extend your property's space. 

While an outdoor office shed is ideal for a workspace at home if you are a freelancer, sheds are not usually legal as living spaces.

However, there are a few exceptions: If your prefabricated ADU falls into the mobile tiny home category, it may be legal in some states. These units are not considered real estate and do not add value to the property as they are not connected to your house but can be installed and used without problems.

Moreover, if you want your prebuilt ADU to be considered legal housing, you should check local regulations. In most cases, the units must meet the same standards as a stick-built house to be part of living properties, but it's entirely possible. 

Thanks to their popularity, many local jurisdictions have made it easy to add freestanding structures to houses' backyards. Do you want to use your prefab ADU as an office? You can do it without problems! Do you prefer an additional home space to rent? You should check your city's regulations and choose a reliable company to buy your unit. 

Myth 2: The installation process is long and tedious.

Myth 2: The installation process is long and tedious.

Truth: If you choose prefab ADUs, you can enjoy a hassle-free installation process! They are the best options if you do not want to disturb your neighbors. 

More and more homeowners are interested in prefabricated ADUs because they can be installed in a short period with little interruption! 

A prefab accessory dwelling unit's main attraction is it's usually built in a factory. If you choose a modular ADU, you can have your additional space in only days. 

Conventional construction is full of unknowns and potential issues. You have to worry about materials availability, finding reliable labor, and inspecting the process. The work can also be affected by external factors such as the weather or inspections by your city's authorities. 

That's why prefab ADUs have become many people's favorite options. Whether you choose a modular or a panelized unit, the installation process is quick and easy. You only need an ADU kit, patience, and a little help in some cases. 

Myth 3: A prefabricated ADU can easily collapse because its structure is often weak.

Myth 3: A prefabricated ADU can easily collapse

Truth: Many prefab ADUs available on the market today have an extra strong structure to ensure durability, strength, and customer safety. 

Yes, a prefab ADU is built by a factory that is probably far from home. However, that doesn't mean they are not resistant and easily collapse when there are unfavorable weather situations. Actually, it's quite the opposite. 

Any prebuilt ADU must meet the same building code standards stipulated for stick-built homes! Additionally, these units are shipped hundreds of miles to reach customers. Therefore, manufacturers make sure they are strong and arrive without a scratch at the final destination. 

If you find a reliable company, you can rest assured that the prefab ADU you choose has an extra-strong structure and is even stronger than required by state standards. 

Why Choose a Prefab Accessory Dwelling Unit?

Why Choose a Prefab Accessory Dwelling Unit

If you purchased a property and want to maximize every part of your investment, a prebuilt ADU may be what you need! With a prefab accessory dwelling unit, you can leverage every space in your new home and add additional structure. 

A prefabricated ADU is also a great choice for homeowners who want an extra space such as a granny flat or play space outside the home. Why do you choose these options? The answer is easy to understand: buying a prefab accessory dwelling unit is much cheaper than the base price of properties you can find with real estate companies. 

Also, when choosing a custom ADU, homeowners should spend some time learning local regulations to avoid making mistakes. They also tend to end up far more on everything needed to build these units, including materials, labor, appliances, plumbing fixtures, or furniture. 

Prefab ADUs vs. Custom ADUs: Which One Should I Choose If I Want to Save?


If you want to save or are on a tight budget, a prefab ADU is the best way to go! The customizable options are very attractive since you can choose their size, roof type, accessories, design, and more! 

However, custom ADUs tend to be more expensive. While prices don't vary much when you choose units with similar sizes and qualities, every penny counts when you're saving! 

Many companies offer various options for prefab ADUs, so you can choose from a wide variety and find the one that best suits your tastes and needs. Therefore, they are the best options if your budget is tight or you want to save some pennies to buy backyard office kits and create the perfect workspace there! 

Things to Consider Before Buying from Prefab ADUs

Things to Consider Before Buying from Prefab ADUs

Are you excited about purchasing a prefab ADU? Wait! There are a few things to consider before ordering, including: 

  • Make sure your lot is suitable for installing a prefab accessory dwelling unit.
  • Check if the place where you plan to install the prebuilt ADU is flat or easy to level.
  • Make sure the street is wide enough to allow the large truck or tow truck carrying your prefabricated ADU to get to your house.
  • Consider your budget to know which models or types of prefab ADUs suit you best.
  • Remember that transportation fees and means of lifting the units can also affect the final cost.
  • Define if you will use the prefab ADU as an office for a workspace or prefer a living area.
  • Look for a reliable company online, such as Autonomous, and ask all the questions on your mind to clarify any doubts.
  • Make a checklist with everything you need for the installation process. You can ask the manufacturer or company if an ADU kit is required or if they bring all the tools. 

How Much Do I Have to Pay for a Prefab ADU?

How Much Do I Have to Pay for a Prefab ADU?

If you do a quick search online, you may notice that there are different prices for prebuilt ADUs available. However, finding the best prefab cabin doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune.

Prefab accessory dwelling units can be more or less expensive, depending on the type. However, you can find low prices for modest ones and some exorbitant amounts for more sophisticated ones. 

At Autonomous, prefab ADUs range from $16,000 to $22,000, which is affordable compared to base prices for similar units you can find on the market. 

You should also keep in mind that the final price is affected by extra fees related to installation or other construction phases, if necessary. However, you should contact the company of your choice and ask for a detailed itemized proposal to install a prefabricated ADU without breaking your budget. 

Final Thoughts

Are you looking for the perfect prefab ADU? You can find it on Autonomous! There's a huge catalog of options, including work pods and sheds for remote workers or video game enthusiasts! 

You are just one step away from having that extra space you want in your home. Choose wisely and enjoy all of its benefits!

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