Wooden, element, panel, modular, timber frame… or how else should we call it

Some prefer to call them “prefabricated wooden houses”, some other “element houses“, some “modular houses”, “panel houses”, “timber frame houses”… and the list goes on.
With the huge amount of information there is out there on all these different typology of homes, perhaps it is good to narrow the circle a little bit explaining what is the correct identification of a product like ours.

Wooden Houses
Wooden house surely identifies a product with no doubt on the matarial it is made of. On the other hand it does not give any information at all on the type of structure or technology used for production. So, simply saying wooden house leaves a few, important, question marks:

> is it prefabricated in assembled parts? …or it comes in a million of little studs and beams?
> is it prefabricated in studs and beams at all? …or maybe it is made in massive glue laminated panels? …or logs?

It appears evident that “prefabricated wooden house” is not sufficient to identify correctly the product we are talking about. Nevertheless “wooden” is one of the most common search terms for our product.

Element Houses
Unlike wooden, the term “element” defines pretty well the type of house: prefabricated and it comes in elements. However it does not say anything at all on how these elements are done and not even on which material is used in the elements… for all we know it could be even concrete!
In any case the term is widely used to identify wooden houses and it is quite common to assume that “element house” refers certainly to a lightweight structure.
Still, as per “wooden house”, the word “element” itself does not give any information on how those elements are done (is it massive? …framed? …in logs?).

Panel Houses
Calling them “panel houses” is not very different from “element houses”. Panel inheritates the functional meaning of element while adding the “shape” information to the context.
In fact most of the elements, due to the function they are built for (walls, floors, roofs), are quite thin compared to their overal surface, therefore coming in the shape of panels.
By saying “panel house” we imply “element house made with elements resembling the shape of panels”. While that’s probably a more accurate description for the product, it is less common among the search terms and, like all the previous ones, still does not give any information on the type of structure of the elements or the technology used to build them.

Modular Houses
This is probably the most inaccurate way to define our product. As a matter of fact, “modular houses” describes a subcatagory of the production and it identifies, very specifically, the type of architectural design rather than the type of materials or technology used for production.
Modular houses are in general of “cubish” shape and a good modular design is characterized by the possibility or reusing the same module in different configurations, both architectural and functional. The advantage of this system is that it cuts down cost of design and production can be highly optimized by producing a large number of almost identical modules.
In the common practice, the term “modular house” is often used in place of element or panel house. Nevertheless, we care to clarify that, while we produce modular houses, not all of them are in fact modular: custom-made homes are generally the less modular thing you can imagine!

Timber frame Houses
Unlike all the other terms, “timberframe” (or timber-frame) defines specifically both the type of construction of the house and the material used.
By saying timber we automatically imply wooden while specifying that it comes in a framed structure (timber frame) and not in massive panels. No doubt then that “timber frame house” is a better fit than “wooden house”. But timber frame does not necessarily mean factory made or made with stud and beams. Often even “log houses” are improperly classified as timber framed when the only framed part is the roof.
So, while being pretty specific, the term “timber frame” does not say it all and it leaves us with one question:

> is it prefabricated in assembled parts? …or it comes in a million of little studs and beams?

Timber frame Element Houses
At this point it probably appears evident that a single word is not enough to define correctly a product so specific like the one we produce. After all we are talking about a whole house, which is a pretty complex system to be described with just one word!
At the end, by joining together the two best terms we found, we can give a very specific and exact description of the type of construction we deal with: timber frame element houses.

The combo “timber frame element” says it all:

> it is made of wood: timber
> it is not massive or log construction: it is framed
> it comes in elements, which are obviously prefabricated
> it does not resctrict the architectural to some “cubish” shape as a “modular” definition would do

So that’s it. We produce Timber frame Element Houses.