Three companies that design and build contemporary homes. Three companies that have featured on Grand Designs. Two very different approaches.
What’s the difference?
We’re often mistaken for a prefabricated home manufacturer. The misconceptions and ambiguity around 'prefab' is why this assumption is understandable. However, there are some key differences between us and our competitors.
Let us explain.
Prefabrication vs Digital Manufacturing
We’re often compared to the German prefab giants, Huf Haus and Baufritz, due to our turnkey service and modern method of construction, and many of our customers consider them as options when researching for a project. However, in reality we are radically different in our approach to the design and construction of our homes, which is underpinned by digital manufacturing technology.
Prefabrication is defined as the ‘manufacture of a building in sections to enable quick or easy assembly on site.’ Imagine a factory production line and large wall panels craned into place on site.
Digital manufacturing is the ‘application of computer systems to manufacturing services, supply chains, products and processes.’
Imagine digital designs, 3D computer modelling and computer-controlled machines operating in a bespoke production plan. This is followed by the on-site assembly of smaller components that fit together to create a high performance building envelope.
The definition of 'digital manufacturing' doesn’t directly reference construction. This is because we are one of the very few companies using this method to deliver homes. Our approach was pioneered by our CEO and founder, Bruce Bell, and showcased on Grand Designs in 2012.
Indeed this ties us to our German competitors, as all three companies have featured on Grand Designs as innovative construction approaches. Huf Haus had a visit from Kevin first in 2004, followed by Baufritz in 2008.
Huf Haus & Baufritz
Established European prefab brands with UK offices and projects, these companies compete at the luxury end of the market and complete impressive homes at scale. A key characteristic of both Baufritz and Huf Haus is not just prefab housing, but also their German origins. Germany is a global frontrunner in prefab housing, with over 20% of all existing homes coming from inside a factory. In the UK, this figure has been reported to be closer to 7.5%.
Huf Haus, perhaps the most iconic prefab brand, was founded over 100 years ago and has a very distinctive architectural style, with a modern take on the post and beam structure. Their projects are well known and easily identifiable - you know what you are going to get with Huf.
Baufritz has been around “in some shape or form” for almost 115 years and, in the UK, they’ve been designing and building individual homes since 2006. A large organisation with roots (and a factory) in Germany, they undertake modern self-build projects, but also create more traditional-style homes with a strong focus on health and the environment.
Whilst both firms will construct the entire house above ground, it is generally the case that the foundations and utilities connections need to be put in place by the customer before the prefab home arrives.
Unlike prefab companies, we don’t have a factory production line or crane modules into place on site. In comparison, our method is actually closer to traditional building processes.
Facit Homes was created to digitise, innovate and modernise the construction methodologies. This was so that we could create individually designed homes and still guarantee the quality and speed of their construction, instead of working within the design constraints of a factory fabricated product, where standardisation is inherent.
The structure of a Facit Home is digitally manufactured using a CNC machine (CNC stands for computer numerically controlled). The machine is programmed to cut sheets of plywood into flat shapes that fit together to create 3D components that look like large Lego blocks. Digitally designed to fit together perfectly on-site, they are filled with insulation in situ to create an airtight and highly insulated building envelope. This follows the fabric first approach and means that we can reach near Passivhaus levels of operational energy efficiency.
Our CNC machine can be transported to site (in our pioneering approach) in order to provide on-demand component production and assembly. It’s a portable component workshop with the ability and flexibility to create unique parts.
Other elements of the home, such as window reveals and bespoke staircases are produced in a similar way, albeit with different material and processes.
We have shorter lead times than factory produced prefab homes and our build system doesn’t require heavy machinery on-site. Our streamlined digital process means that after planning permission is granted, we can start construction after just 3 months.
As design and build companies, Huf Haus, Baufritz and Facit Homes deliver contemporary homes and share many benefits despite different approaches to construction.
Benefits for the customer:
Cost control/fixed price
There are also some key characteristics that set us apart from our prefab competitors. At Facit Homes, we also provide:
Total design flexibility
Cost efficiency (no large factory to maintain)
Digitally enabled construction
Foundations (as part of our turnkey service)
How do you choose?
As established prefab brands, Baufritz and Huf Haus are a great fit for many people.
For more bespoke homes and innovative designs, we are a great option. Considering the exchange rates, cost implications of delivery from Germany and possibly even the impact of Brexit, we are confidently a more cost-effective construction company.
Whichever route you choose, a contemporary and energy efficient home is a great one.