Talking About Modular Homes

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Just what is a Modular ... homes are any home in which 80 to 95% of it is built in a factory. It is ... in sections or modules. These modules are ... to a building site, place


Just what is a Modular Home?

Modular homes are any home in which 80 to 95% of it is built in a factory. It is constructed in sections or modules. These modules are transported to a building site,Talking About Modular Homes Articles placed on conventional foundations and assembled, where construction is completed. Unlike stick-built or site-built homes, modular building techniques are used, the on-site builders involvement is limited to excavation, final grading, construction of a suitable foundation, interior and exterior wall finish, HVAC hookup and connection to utilities.Modular Homes are NOT trailer homes, or mobile homes. Modular Homes are built to local building codes, not to the less stringent HUD code used by mobile home companies. There are no axles or telltale signs to indicate that a home is modular.

Can I tell the difference between a Modular Home and one constructed onsite?

You can’t unless you see the house being constructed. There are no telltale seams, beams or lines, unless the builder used antiquated techniques. Modular builders use the same materials and used when constructing a site built home. When a home is completed you cannot distinguish between the two.Aren’t the walls and materials lower quality?Absolutely not. Modular homes are constructed with 2x6 walls, and stronger materials so that the home can tolerate the rigors of being transported hundreds of miles. Most modular home factories use national brand name products to further enhance the quality of the finished product.

Can a modular home have a Basement?

Yes, and most of them do – often with 9’ high sidewalls, walk-out basements, and expanded living areas on lower levels – but that is up to you, and your modular home builder.

Are modular homes are of inferior quality when compared to site built homes?

No - and arguably modular homes are of better quality. The two primary reasons for this are supervision and weather. Site built homes are subject to the elements. Modular homes are built in the controlled environment of the factory. This protects building materials from the harsh outdoor environment and enables laborers to work in comfortable environs improving the quality of their work. The second reason for the better quality of modular homes is the quality control programs used by modular manufacturers. Few builders who construct site built homes have a quality control manual or program in place. Modular builders do. Furthermore, regular inspections occur during the building of a modular home. In theory this is what your builder is supposed to do in the oversight of his subcontractors. In practice however these types of inspection are not done frequently or as well as it should be. Modular homes are inspected once on the assembly line, once more by a third party independent inspector required by the state in which the home is to be built, and lastly by the local building inspector – for quality, as well as form, fit and accuracy.

Can modular homes be customized?

Yes, they can. Essentially the same design flexibility exists that you would have with a site built home. If you buy a site built home in a development you will have limited customization options. Similarly there are some modular manufacturers who offer a limited selection of models from which to choose.Conversely, there are modular builders, as there are site builders, who allow total discretion in the design and customization of a home. We often develop plans with the customer “from scratch” – starting with an idea of the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and general concept of what the house is to be – whether it is a ranch, rambler, cape cod style, two story, split level or something in between. Special needs, such as ADA compliance, with wider doorways, lower counters, roll-in showers, and other accessibility features are very important to customers in the same way the fireplaces, French doors, and spa style tubs are. If there is a feature in a stick built home, it can be built in a modular home.

How long does it take to build a Modular Home?

Modular home construction is much faster than site built homes. The typical rule of thumb for the building of a site built home is 4-6 months from ground breaking. A modular home can be completed in 1-2 months. There are several reasons for this. All of the trades required to build a site built home are employed at the factory so there is a reduced number of tradesman. Secondly many different tasks can be going on simultaneously in the factory. Lastly, some of the site work, like excavation and the pouring of the foundation are done prior to the time the house is delivered to the construction site.Compare this to the site built home where most tasks must be done sequentially. In total a few weeks is all that will be required to complete the modules that comprise a modular home. Once delivered on site the builder may have another few weeks to complete the finish work. Typically, customers can expect that it will take 4-6 weeks from time of order to time of delivery, and from time of delivery to completion, another 4-6 weeks.

Are modular homes difficult to finance?

No. That used to be the case, but the sheer number of modular homes being constructed, as well as the lending community’s understanding of the quality of modular homes has all but eliminated any previously existing prejudice.

Do modular homes offer energy efficiency?

Modular homes are often able to achieve extremely high energy efficiency ratings, with some manufacturer’s offering extremely high standards in their products. Expect to see R-19 to R-21 or better in walls, R-38 to R50 in roofs, and Low-E windows are almost standard in the modular industry. Talk to your builder to find out what features are standard, and which are options.

Are there differences in the permit requirements between site built and modular homes?

No, there are no differences. A modular home must conform or comply with the local building requirements of where the home will be placed. Mobile homes, in contrast, do have substantially different permit or code requirements - but these do not pertain to modular homes. Modular homes may cost less for permits because they are pre-inspected at the factory before ever arriving on the construction site. When you are looking at new homes, talk to a company that specializes in modular homes. They can answer questions as they pertain to your community and local codes.


There are many good reasons why you should explore the option of a modular home. These reasons include: time savings, design flexibility, quality, cost savings, shorter-term construction loans (less interest paid) and brand name products. With the decreasing pool of skilled laborers, modular homes are appearing in subdivisions nationwide in larger and larger numbers. Seek a builder with expertise in modular homes, and you’ll find quality, beauty and affordability in less time, often with warranties of up to ten years. It’s an option you are seeing more and more.