written by:
March 1, 2010

From Kynar and Galvalume to SIPs, the terminology associated with prefab construction can be daunting. We asked a handful of architects and designers to help us build a prefab glossary of the top terms and definitions related to modular housing, and we hope you’ll help us add to the list in the comments.
 

Carbon Footprint: A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a person, organization, or location at a given time.

Construction Waste: Unwanted material produced directly or incidentally during the constructio process. This includes building materials such as insulation, nails, electrical wiring, and rebar, as well as waste originating from site preparation such as dredging materials, tree stumps, and rubble.

Cost of Construction: Expense incurred by a contractor for labor, material, equipment, financing, services, utilities, etc., plus overhead and contractor's profit. Costs such as that of land, architectural design, consultant  and engineer's fee are not construction costs.

Cost Control: Budget and actual cost of operations, processes, departments or product and the analysis of variances, profitability or social use of funds.

Custom Home: custom-built on-site from "standard" materials; on-site labor-intensive.

Energy Efficiency: The ratio between the useful output of an energy conversion machine and the input, in energy terms. The useful output may be electric power, mechanical work, or heat. Energy conversion efficiency is not defined uniquely, but instead depends on the usefulness of the output. All or part of the heat produced from burning a fuel may become rejected waste heat if, for example, work is the desired output from a thermodynamic cycle.

Greywater: Wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation, and constructed wetlands.

Kit Home / Kit of Parts: A structure that contains prefabricated components and is put together by a contractor.

LEED Certification: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), provides a suite of standards for the environmentally sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings and neighborhoods.

Mobile Home: A factory-assembled residence consisting of one or more modules, in which a chassis and wheels are an integral part of the structure, and can be readied for occupancy without removing the chassis and/or wheels.

Modular/Module: Modular buildings and modular homes are sectional prefabricated buildings or houses that consist of multiple modules or sections which are manufactured in a remote facility and then delivered to their intended site of use. The modules are assembled into a single residential building using either a crane or trucks.

Passive Solar: Using sunlight for energy without the use of active mechanical systems (as contrasted to active solar). Such technologies convert sunlight into usable heat (water, air, thermal mass), cause air-movement for ventilating, or future use, with little use of other energy sources. A common example is a solarium  on the equator-side of a building. Passive cooling is the use of the same design principles to reduce summer cooling requirements.

Prefab: Prefabricated. This term is wide open to interpretation. The components are either generally available when the structure is designed or they are created specifically for the project (i.e. designed for reproduction).

Quonset Hut: A prefabricated hut of corrugated iron having a semicircular cross section. Quonset was originally a US military term derived from the location where the hut was developed (Quonset, Rhode Island). The British synonym is Nissen hut.

SIPs: Structural Insulated Panels. Panels are typically made using expanded polystyrene (EPS), or polyisocyanurate rigid foam insulation sandwiched between two structural skins of oriented strand board (OSB).SIPs are used as building panels for floors, walls and roofs in residential and commercial buildings.

Yurt: a circular tent of felt or skins on a collapsible framework, used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia, and Turkey.
 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

sardenya lr 7
A renovation brings light and order to a Spanish flat, maintaining its standout ceilings.
May 25, 2016
pow 5 25 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 25, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent thom fougere winnipeg canada cthom fougere studio thom fougere saddle chair 2
Designer Thom Fougere plays with scale and typology to create playful furniture.
May 25, 2016
prs my16 0067 v001 1
In the worlds of architecture and design, we’re always looking for the best ways of supporting sustainable building practices. This awareness doesn’t have to stop at our driveways but rather, it can extend to the cars we choose to take us to the places we go each day. With Toyota’s 2016 Prius, the daily task of getting from point A to point B can now be experienced with a new level of efficiency, safety, and style.
May 25, 2016
mountfordarchitects western australia
On a narrow site in Western Australia, Mountford Architects makes the most of a tight spot—with an eye to the future.
May 25, 2016
San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016