Manufactured housing is making inroads as a viable option for creating quality, affordable housing in communities across Canada.

Often called modular or pre-fabricated homes, this type of housing is manufactured in factory-controlled conditions and then brought to the building site, either in sections or as a whole, for installation and finishing. The indoor manufacturing process offers a number of cost-saving advantages:

  • A climate-controlled environment allows construction to take place year-round without the delays and extra costs associated with extreme weather and temperature changes.
  • Computer-aided design and manufacturing ensures efficient use of building materials, facilitates the scheduling of workers and enables bulk purchasing of materials, while permitting customization of the end-product.
  • Various components of the house can be built simultaneously, resulting in faster construction times.
  • Material losses and theft are reduced, since manufacturing facilities tend to be more secure than construction sites.
  • The use of precise manufacturing equipment and processes can improve air-sealing and overall quality control.

Manufactured housing offers the added benefit of quick and easy installation on tight urban properties, environmentally sensitive sites or in remote rural areas.

CMHC’s Affordable Housing Centre has helped several developers take advantage of manufactured housing to bring affordable housing projects to life.

In Nova Scotia, for example, System Built Homes (SBH) Limited built 24 modest-sized, affordable homes in the town of Kentville using energy-efficient, manufactured housing. During the early stages of the project, CMHC provided Seed Funding to SBH to study the market for this type of housing, prepare a business plan and undertake preliminary design work. CMHC also provided Proposal Development Funding to SBH to help cover the costs of engineering, an environmental site assessment and detailed design work.

EnerGuide is a rating system that shows a standard measure of a home’s energy performance. The home’s energy-efficiency level is rated on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the home is.

In Saskatchewan, Innovative Residential customized manufactured housing units to create the 94-unit Hartford Greens project in Saskatoon. The units were shipped to the construction site as single-storey modules and then stacked into two-storey townhouses. Once siding and other exterior finishings were installed, the manufactured houses looked no different than a site-built house. CMHC supported the project through its mortgage loan insurance flexibilities for affordable housing. In the case of the Hartford Greens development, the five per cent grant provided by the developer, municipality and provincial government was recognized as equity, making it possible for qualifying buyers to take the step into homeownership.

Developers of rental units have also used manufactured housing to help keep their projects affordable.

In Québec City, developer Logis-Bec constructed a 45-unit building using prefabricated modules and apartments that were brought to the building site in sections. The company received an interest-free Proposal Development Funding loan from CMHC to help cover architect and engineering fees. Logis-Bec also benefited from CMHC’s mortgage insurance flexibilities, which allowed it to finance close to 90 per cent of the value of the project with a reduced insurance premium.

Throughout Canada, local organizations, individuals and businesses are at the heart of efforts to create more affordable housing in their communities. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is there to help. The Affordable Housing Centre works with private and non-profit developers to facilitate the creation of new affordable housing solutions without federal subsidy.

Date Published:: March 31, 2018