Modular Home Building Frequently Asked Questions – Part I

Today’s modular housing, when built with modern technology by a quality manufacturer and finished on-site by a reputable, experienced builder, offers many advantages when compared to traditional on-site stick-building. However, most of our clients tend to ask very similar questions as they begin to understand the inherent advantages of modular home construction. This “question and answer” article is the first of two parts intended to help the consumer better understand the manufacturing process, the home component product and the finishing of the manufactured product on your building site. This is Part I, dealing with more of the aesthetic questions initially asked by clients. Part II will deal with more technically oriented questions.

Q: What is modular home construction?

A: It is the process of “stick-building” your home, in modular components, within a climate-controlled factory environment. The components are then set onto your foundation at your site and the home is then completed to traditional specifications, using traditional finishes.

Q: What are the advantages to “stick-building” my home in a factory, versus having it “stick-built” at my site, in the traditional method?

A: Homes stick-built within the factory are built better yet quicker than traditional on-site stick-built houses. The factory built components are manufactured with engineered cuts to insure square and true fit during the assembly process. During the factory construction process, neither the wood nor other components are subject to inclement weather, minimizing the warping and damage that can occur when site-built homes are left exposed during the “site-built” construction process. The final product is more energy efficient, stable and stronger!

Q: Why are today’s modular homes built superior as compared to the traditional way of stick-building on site?

A: As the old adage states “a picture says a thousand words”, so too does a tour of a high quality manufacturer’s factory explain the superiority of modern modular construction. Modular home construction is just as much stick-built as any site-built construction…only because it is built in a climate controlled factory, with exact, engineered, laser-precise cuts and with technicians working on ground level (not straddling a 2X4 or balancing from the peak of a roof), it is built better! The frame of a modular home will contain at least 20% and perhaps as much as 30% more lumber than a traditional site-built home, so it is much more stable and stronger than traditional housing.

Q: Are modular homes restricted in architectural design or interior floor planning when compared to traditional housing?

A: Today’s engineering and building technology allows clients a very high degree of architectural and interior floor planning options. If you are a very discriminating homeowner seeking to design and build a truly distinctive home, an experienced manufacturer and capable builder should be able to achieve designs to satisfy your demand utilizing modular building technology and highly engineered manufactured building components.

Q: Are today’s modular homes built and finished with any different building and finish materials as compared to traditional housing?

A: Both the exterior and interior of modular homes are usually built with the same components as you would expect to find in any conventional, site-built house, depending on the quality of the manufacturer, your builder and your finish selections. You should be able to customize your modular home with the same appointments expected to be found in a conventional custom-built home. If your manufacturer or builder either refuses to allow you those choices, or indicates it does not usually allow such choices, seek another manufacturer and/or builder!

Q: Once a modular home is completed on my site, will I be able to distinguish it from a traditional site-built home?

A: No! Due to advancements in technology and the manufacturing process, it is virtually impossible to distinguish a well-designed modular house from a traditional, stick-built, site-built house.

Q: Is a modular home less costly to build than traditional, site-built housing?

A: A manufacturer that builds at a fairly high volume level will buy its materials in bulk and will pay less than a single builder would pay at its local supplier. Also, the manufacturer’s local builder typically has less work to complete the home than a local custom home builder, so the builder should incur less overhead costs and, thus, can operate on a lower profit margin. As a result, you, the customer should anticipate a cost savings by building your home with modern modular components, as compared to traditional site-built construction.