MODULAR BUILDINGS AND MODULAR HOMES
Modular manufacturers create multiple homes every month, and so are able to order items they need in bulk, reducing the cost per item. This may mean that a more premium brand will be available to you at reduced prices, but if you want a different brand that the manufacturer doesn’t have a deal with, you may have to pay close to retail prices.
Like a manufactured home or a mobile home, the sections of a modular home are built in a climate controlled home building facility., they are prefabricated buildings or houses that consist of repeated sections called modules.
"Modular" is a construction method that involves constructing sections away from the building site, the sections are then transported to the final location where they are joined together on a permanent foundation by a local contractor. If an inspection is required, once the home is completely constructed at the site local building inspectors complete a thorough inspection of the home to make sure the home is structurally sound and meets all construction requirements. Prefabricated sections are sometimes placed using a crane. The modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing a variety of configurations and styles.
Modular buildings, also called prefabricated homes or precision-built homes, are built to equal or higher standards as on-site stick-built homes.
The building method is referred to as permanent modular construction. Material for stick built and modular homes are the same.
Modular homes are not doublewides or mobile homes.
First, modular homes do not have axles or a metal frame, meaning that they are typically transported on flat-bed trucks.
Modular buildings must conform to all relevant local building codes, while doublewides and mobile homes have metal under framing.
Modular homes do not have metal tags on the outside but will have a data plate installed inside the home, usually under the kitchen sink or in a closet. The data plate will provide information such as the manufacturer, third-party inspection agency, appliance information, and manufacture date.
Visually, manufactured and modular homes don’t appear that different, and both are often mistaken as site-built homes.
However, prefabricated homes differ depending on the codes they must follow.
Characteristics of Modular Homes
Are factory built and finished, and a construction site is a place for assembly. Once considered a cheap and low-quality housing option, modular homes have come a long way in recent years. They offer home buyers another way to achieve their dream of owning a home, and come with several advantages over regular, “stick built” homes.
However, buyers should also be aware that modular homes do come with some drawbacks and ultimately are still seen as less desirable than a stick built home by many people. Below you will find a comprehensive look at the advantages and disadvantages of modular homes.
Modular home manufacturing has improved significantly in recent years, and can often compete toe-to-toe with the standard stick built home. In fact, sometimes the quality can actually be better when compared to some stick builders.
The reason is much more detailed shop drawings of modular homes than in the case of traditional houses.
Modular houses usually have every detail elaborated, also a definitely higher health and safety level in the factory will increase the quality of work.
Modular homes are built in a factory setting, on an assembly line, which means the building process for all the pieces is under intense quality control.
A stick built home, on the other hand, is built from scratch on the land where it will sit.
Modules that make up a building are more durable than those built traditionally.
Prefabricated houses not only have to meet design requirements but also withstand transport loads.
SPEED OF CONSTRUCTION
A small modular house can be built in less than two months at the factory. The reason is automation, greater repeatability, greater teamwork. Assembly on the construction site is usually a few days.
Modular homes can go up quickly, often faster than a regular stick built home. If you consider all the areas where delays are possible when building a regular home, it is easy to see why this is the case.
The materials for a stick built home may be sourced from all over the country, and each different supplier must get the materials to the builder on time.
There are many opportunities for things to go wrong just in the transportation process. A modular home is one of many other homes being built by the manufacturer, which means that supplies are usually abundant to get the job done on time.
Weather can also be an issue with a stick built home. If it is raining or snowing, dangers outside, such as with thunderstorms, builders will have to stop until the weather improves.
A modular home is mostly constructed indoors, where the weather is not an issue. If you are having any time constraints whatsoever in transitioning from your existing home to a new place, a modular home could be something to consider just for the savings in time.
You can generally expect to spend anywhere from 10 to 20% less on your home if you choose to build modular.
Price is probably the most important advantage. Modular homes are not at all more expensive than traditional ones. There is no guarantee that modular homes are always cheaper. It all depends on your design, material requirements, location, etc.
Because the modular home is one of many being built by the same manufacturer, with less possible downtime, there are fewer costs associated with its construction. The cost of a modular home can be up to 10 to 20% cheaper than a stick built home, and possibly even more affordable if you are building your home in a location that is hard to get to or far from major manufacturing centers.
The acoustics of modular homes is much better than houses traditionally built. In traditional homes, sound propagates through the construction of walls and ceiling. That is why floating floors are often used to suppress noise. In prefabricated houses, each module is a separate construction.
The modules connected together in the house are protected from transferring noise from one to the other
There are some issues that you should be aware of when you start considering buying a modular home. Although modular homes do offer plenty of advantages, they are still not quite in the same league as a stick built home – particularly in the perception of the public. Something that should never be downplayed is perceived value.
While the thought of building a modular home could have numerous advantages in your mind, it may not for numerous buyers when it comes time to sell it.
LACK OF CUSTOMIZATION
Modular homes can be built in a variety of configurations, but because of the way they are manufactured, it is not as easy to customize them as it is to customize a stick built home. The builders of your stick built home if you wanted them too could build you practically anything you wanted – a living room with lofts, a tower off of your master bedroom or a circular floor plan.
Modular homes are not quite so flexible.
COMPLICATED LOAN PROCESS
A mortgage for a stick built home is something that most people are familiar with. But the payment process for a modular home involves a few more steps.
The builder will want to be paid in full before the home is finished, and will often want periodic payments to finance the building process.
You may need to get a construction loan, to first pay the builder, which will be changed to a regular mortgage after the home has been completed.
Make sure you understand how to get the best interest rate on your loan. There are times when buyers do not spend the appropriate amount of time researching the best loan programs for their specific needs. Taking the time to understand exactly what type of loan works best is a big part of not overspending on a mortgage.
COST OF LAND
While the modular home may cost less to build, you are still going to need to purchase a piece of land to build the home on. The cost of land combined with a house can be a bit shocking to people who are not prepared for it. You need to be prepared to buy your land and your home if you choose to go with a modular home. One of the areas that people underestimate costs is with land development. If there is no town sewer available in the location in which you are building make sure you understand how expensive a septic system can be. There can, in fact, be a difference from one lot to the next of ten’s of thousands of dollars.
Although modular homes are much more in favor than manufactured mobile homes, there may still be neighborhoods or municipalities that will not allow you to build such a home. You want to make sure that the area where you want to buy land and build the home will allow it. In many areas, these documents are known as restrictive covenants. It is possible that long ago a restriction was put in place denying the ability to build a modular home. This was due to the perception years ago that modular homes were inferior products. In many cases, people viewed them as “eye soars” due to their unappealing roof lines. It was not uncommon in fact to see many of the modular homes of years ago look something akin to an army barracks.
PERCEIVED QUALITY ISSUES
In most instances, the components of a modular home built by a manufacturer will be every bit as good as the components of a stick built home, but everyone may not be up to date on this fact. If you are looking to impress, a modular home may not deliver in the same way a stick built home can.
For some people public perception is irrelevant, but not for everyone. You may have to wait decades before the average person is clued into the benefits and the excellent quality of many modular homes.
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