Quonset housing, for many of us, conjures up visions of being stuck behind half a house drug along the highway to its next space. Sadly “trailer trash” is part of our modern vocabulary. Thankfully Quonset housing today is far more than ugly oversized trailers.
The first documented Quonset house was the Manning Portable Cottage. It was built in the 1830s by London carpenter H. Manning, whose son was immigrating to Australia. H. Manning wanted his son to have a comfortable place to live in the new land, but didn’t know what materials and supplies his son would find there. So he constructed a house in pieces that could be stored in the hull of a ship, and then unloaded and assembled once his son arrived Down Under. It worked so well that Manning shipped dozens of the cottages there. A few still stand today.
Each type of Quonset housing starts in a factory on an assembly line. First the flooring is installed then the walls are put in place and, depending on the type, the roof is set. The home is then packaged for transportation to the home-site where they are installed on permanent foundations like a basements, crawl space, or slab.
What are the differences in Modular, Manufactured and Panelized homes?
Modular Quonset housing is created in sections on an assembly line in a factory. The sections or modules include bed rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens that were selected by the owner. They have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to design and upgrades. Owners can order expensive granite counter tops, fancy fixtures, exotic flooring etc. Once built the modules are transported to the home site where they are assembled and the owner has a home that is hard to tell apart from the traditional stick-built homes.
A subset of modular housing is panelized and precut homes. Sometimes, depending on who you ask, modular housing is considered the subset of panelized and precuts. Much like rooms in modular housing, the walls of panelized homes are constructed in factories and shipped to the site. Precut homes have separate units joined together on-site, designed like puzzles that fit together in a unique order, instead of the à la carte method of modular housing.
Manufactured homes are built on a chassis or steel frame. The steel frame is used both for transport and permanent support. Manufactured homes are generally considered a low-cost alternative to conventionally built housing. Mobile homes are the cousin to manufactured homes. The major difference is wheels. Mobile homes are built on a chassis that have permanent wheels attached.
Benefits of Quonset housing
Buyers can typically expect to pay less for a Quonset hut than they would for stick-built construction. Modular homes do offer pricey customization, but the material costs still decrease with assembly-line construction.
Quonsetricated houses are constructed indoors and away from the weather, which also reduces delays and subsequent costs.
A Quonset house is far more than that double-wide of yesteryear. Modular, Manufactured, and Panelized homes are now on the cutting edge of building technology.