Modular homes are quick and easy to build, which is why many homebuyers want one. And if you think about it, the reasoning makes sense: your brand new, affordable home will be ready in less time than a pricier stick-built house.
Most homebuyers aren’t familiar with the process of building a modular home and don’t want to end up making a costly mistake that drains their financial resources or extends the homebuilding timeframe.
If you’re in the market for a new abode, this article addresses everything you need to know about building a modular home.
What Is a Modular Home?
A modular home is a prefabricated structure built with repeated sections called modules. Unlike a traditional stick-built house that’s constructed on the lot where the home will sit, a modular home’s built in sections offsite. Once it’s done, the sections are loaded onto a truck that transports them to the homebuyer’s lot, where the house will be assembled.
This finished product looks like any traditional stick-built home, having been constructed using the same building materials, including quartz countertops, wood framing, and brick exteriors.
Many homebuyers love the idea of modular home building because of how easy they are to design and customize. Plus, you can build any type of house you want, from a ranch-style home to a multi-million-dollar estate.
While the time and money you can save by building a modular home may seem enticing, as a homebuyer, you should take the time to weigh your options and be sure that this type of home is for you.
Why Build a Modular Home?
There are many reasons why you might want to build a modular home instead of a stick-built one. Here are a few.
High industry standards ensure that modular home builders deliver houses that are 100% code compliant and up to spec, adaptable, and built to suit your needs in any environment.
Because modular home building involves constructing sections that will be transported to a home site, for example, each crafted module must be sturdy and be able to withstand transportation and installation. Every stage of production must also be monitored and undergo a quality assurance process.
With all this rigorous overview, it’s no wonder that wood-framed modular homes can survive the brutality of hurricanes more than their stick-built counterparts, according to FEMA.
Building a modular home costs less than other types of houses. Because module construction happens in a factory, there are hardly any significant delays caused by weather changes, theft, or vandalism. Also, modular home builders can buy supplies in bulk quantities, saving them — and homebuyers — more money.
Builders of modular homes also save money by following a sort of formula. Since each module has specific dimensions and material requirements, builders can determine what’s needed and how much, minimizing waste.
While customizations tend to hike up the final home sales price, several installation fees are built into the price, including the use of cranes, transportation, and delivery.
From planning the project to constructing and delivering your home, the process of building a modular home typically takes between three to seven months from start to finish. A traditional stick-built house, by comparison, takes a bit longer, averaging around nine to 12 months. So, if you’re anxious about moving into a new home, a modular one might be your best option.
When traditional home builders are preparing the lot for construction, your prefabricated home will already be complete. According to the National Association of Home Builders, modular home projects are estimated to be complete in around five months — sometimes as quick as 60 days!
Because your builder can assemble the modules in various ways, they can also rearrange the layouts to suit your tastes, building you a modern, trendy structure if that’s what you’d like.
And while they can be a bit hard to tell apart from a traditionally built home, a modular home can be considered a state-of-the-art structure. That’s because it allows you to do the flooring, drywall, plumbing, cabinetry, and electrical work without any limitations to customizations.
Why Is a Modular Home Cheaper Than a Stick-Built Home?
Most homebuyers fear the costs associated with building a house. But building a modular home on land that you own or buy is usually cheaper than having a house built from scratch on that same spot.
A few reasons why building a modular home may be a more affordable option include:
- No architect fee. These days, it’s quite expensive to pay architects for their services. But since modular homes are pre-designed and open for customization, your builders can personalize your home according to your taste without the need to consult an architect.
- No general contractor fee. With a modular home, you won’t need a general contractor. All necessary inspections take place at the factory before the modules arrive on your lot.
- Low permit fees. While you’re required to obtain all necessary permits, the cost of getting them to build a modular home is limited and lower than what you’d have to pay for a conventional building process.
- Low labor costs. The major building steps are carried out in the factory. So you won’t need to pay laborers so much when they get to the site. Also, labor costs are lower, thanks to the absence of harsh weather or delays in the building process.
7 Steps to Building a Modular Home
If you’re looking to build a modular home, you should know the steps you need to take to make sure it’s the home of your dreams. Here are the major steps you should take.
1. Plan the Building Process
This stage takes about a month and includes budgeting, choosing contractors, comparing bids, finding insurance, and other preliminary activities. It begins by estimating how much the modular home you like costs and how much you’re willing to spend for extras, like customizations or upgrades.
Create a plan for funding during this stage, and don’t forget to include the construction details. Then, send your plans — which can and should be modifiable — to contractors and subcontractors.
Make sure to consider only licensed builders that are experienced in building modular homes. Pay special attention to their bids, specifically the pricing and value. Don’t forget to ask for their licensing details and references. You can call the references to get a better sense of their work ethics and commitments.
If they’re a good fit, hire them. You might have to spend extra money on good people, but it will save you the cost of constant supervision or fixes.
During this stage, you’re required to buy a Builder’s Risk insurance policy, which covers your home during the modular home construction process. Remember to discuss options with your insurance agent.
2. Prepare the Site
After picking out a site for building a modular home, you should go ahead and start preparations like tree clearing, foundation construction, demolitions, grading, and surveying.
By now, your modular home’s sections are being pre-built at the manufacturing facility, with builders eventually adding electrical outlets, wiring, plumbing, and insulation. Once these fixtures are ready, the builders will move on to the exterior parts, completing roofing and siding as well as fixing doors, windows, and cabinets.
Clearing the lot this early in the process will guarantee it’s ready by the time the modular house arrives at your home site. Beyond clearing the lot, preparation also involves specific tests and inspections. So you can engage a local modular builder to help you out with this step of the modular home construction process.
3. Acquire Necessary Permits and Approvals
The next step in building your modular home is to obtain all necessary permits. As a homebuyer, you must secure the permits and approvals needed. Having all the right paperwork in time will make the building process smooth, eliminating delays that may arise out of the absence of approvals.
The most common, mandatory construction approvals include:
- Site plan
- Building permit
- Concrete permit
- Mechanical permit
- Encroachment permit
- Plumbing permit
- Flood district development permit
While you’re responsible for obtaining all of the necessary permits, you can authorize a general contractor to help you out. Remember to confirm these approvals to avoid penalties, significant fines, or demolition.
4. Design Your Home
During this stage, you’ll design your dream home using blueprints, plans, and specifications. You’ll need to highlight how many modules are required, for example, the number of occupants and bathrooms, and whether or not the house requires ADA compliance. Of course, you’ll have to work with your builders on this.
Generally, builders are flexible when it comes to building a modular home. They will work with you to design your home and offer multiple home floor plans to choose from. You can customize your floor plans, cabinet heights, and move walls to suit your family’s needs.
Also, most builders have an in-house engineering department that will help draw up the final design for your home. They will show you the final design so you can approve it and the builders can get to work.
5. Start Building
After preparing your site, obtaining all necessary approvals, and having a design to work with, the next step is building a modular home. This phase usually takes one to four months. It’s when the builders will set the foundation, septic, plumbing, digging, and other activities.
While you’re busy finalizing your site preparations, the builders are still at work constructing your home’s modules. By now, they’re working on the frame walls and roof assembly. They proceed to electrical, mechanical, and plumbing works while finishing pending insulations. Then, installing drywall, windows, and flooring as well as painting begin.
While the modules are being constructed, a third-party inspection agent makes sure that the builders craft each section according to the building code. Every necessary construction is carried out to make the modules ready for installation.
6. Install the Modules
Once the modules are ready for construction, the general contractor in charge of the project will help install them and complete the modular home construction process.
If the foundation is semi-permanent, permanent, or on grade, the builders will need to set the modules with a crane. If it’s a raised foundation, the modules can be set using simple mechanical methods.
The home site needs to be prepared to give the crane access to the foundation and other sections where assembly needs to take place. Also, a site without plenty of rooms requires a staging area where installation experts can store the home sections. You might also need a toter to move the homes to the modular home site.
When you’re sure that the crane can access home sections from a convenient setup location, you can start the installation process. If everything’s in place, you can set up a two-section home in one day. Usually, it takes two to three days to set up a modular home with six to eight sections.
After installation, all that’s left is the finishing out of mechanical and electrical connections like the stairs, exterior siding, and wheelchair ramps.
7. Inspect the Modular House
Because you’re getting ready to move into your new home, this is the most exciting step.
Before you head to your new home with your belongings, a home inspector will examine the construction to be sure that everything is in the proper place. Your home builder ought to have carried out the building according to specified building codes, so there shouldn’t be anything major at this point.
The inspection gives you time to walk through your house to make sure that it is just as you’ve agreed with your home builders and contractors.
If the house is what you dreamt it would be, way to go! It’s time to work on obtaining your Certificate of Occupancy. Your jurisdiction should approve your new home and allow you to occupy it, which means it’s time to head over to your new home with all of your belongings, unpack, and get settled.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Building a Modular Home?
Building a modular home has its benefits, but that’s not to say that it’s without disadvantages. Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of modular home building to determine whether owning one actually suits you or not.
- Up-front rating. Even before construction starts, you’ll already know how much you’ll spend as a homebuyer. You can be sure that the pricing won’t change, unlike what happens with traditional home building.
- Remote access. Modular homes are more beneficial to someone who’s looking at building a home in a hard-to-reach area. That’s because transporting laborers and materials to job sites in remote areas can be challenging. But with modular homes, construction is made easy. You’ll save commute time and transport costs and have your desired home in the remote area you’ve always wanted.
- Green building. The modular home construction process is environmentally friendly. The building process is more efficient, and the off-site construction makes sure that waste is kept to a minimum. Also, you can deconstruct a modular home, move it, or reconstruct it with reusable components.
- Solid construction. Because builders will be moving the modules to another site for installation, they usually make sure to build with high standards. This building process will assure you, the homebuyer, that your home has solid construction along with enhanced safety features.
- Quick completion. Since all modules are pre-designed, it takes less time to complete a modular home than a traditionally constructed one. There are plenty of records of modular home completions within a few weeks.
- Structure flexibility. Upon completion, if you want to add anything new, you can. Modular building allows easy add-ons. That way, you can make adjustments to your living space. You won’t need to spend a lot of money on remodeling.
- Variety limitations. While most builders have quite a number of options to offer with regards to fixtures and fittings, they are often still limited in style.
- Size limitations. Since your builders will need to transport modules to your home site, they have to construct transportable modules. This constraint in size tends to limit the final layout and size of structures in your home.
- Time limitations. While it takes only a few weeks to complete a modular home, it’s faster to walk into the street to buy a new home. The only issue is that you won’t get customization options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Homebuyers often ask a lot of questions when they’re considering buying and building a modular house. Here are a few of those queries.
Is Building a Modular Home the Best Option for You?
If you’re just looking to get the best deal on a house, buying an already built home might be the best option for you. But if you want a house with unique features and land you can customize to impress your family and neighbors, building a modular home is a good fit for you.
Also, modular homes are not so expensive, and you can buy one that’ll be ready within a few months. So, if you think that’s what you want, find a modular home builder near you.
How Will You Find a Modular Home Builder Around You?
Apart from speaking with your real estate agent, you can find builders yourself. A simple online search like ‘modular home builders near me’ will pull up a list of them in your area along with additional information.
Remember, only engage reputable, licensed professionals who are well-known and respected in the industry. Due diligence on the company you’re considering will pay off. Some builders will be highly recommended. Others not so much.
How Exactly Can a Home Building Company Help Me?
To construct a modular home, you’ll need to hire a builder and likely other home-related contractors. Most people don’t know how these professionals can help them, so they don’t even know how to choose from the many options around them. Yet, you need to work with the right people. After all, building is not only about constructing the house. It also involves project management and customer support among other things.
A well-established company like Century Home Builders will offer you the entire home package. They will work on the house, septic, water, pole barns, electric, porches, and any other house features you want. They are committed to making sure your unique building needs are met.
While you focus on preparing to move into your new house, they’re doing everything they can to ensure that you find your house homely. They build homes in less than 90 days, and even fewer when it comes to modular homes. So, yes, you need them for a hitch-free building process.
What’s the Difference Between Modular Homes and Manufactured Homes?
Manufactured homes are built in a factory and transported to a different site. They are entirely pre-built. Even though modular homes start out in a factory, too, they’re installed at the home site.
Now You Can Build the Modular Home of Your Dreams
Building a modular home lets you have a house you customize yourself. You can also stick to your decision to have your home in a remote area that may be hard to reach for building purposes. The building timeline is short, and the pricing isn’t expensive. Plus, you’ll know how much it will cost you to build right from the start.
Still, to enjoy the benefits of a modular home, you need the services of a reliable home building company. And that’s where Century Home Builders come in. They’ll make sure you obtain every permit, approval, and certification needed to build your modular home, making the process as smooth as possible. So, get started with them today!