For many people, a modular home is the right choice. It’s an easy way to build your dream home at a reasonable price and high quality. Meanwhile, the process is quicker than traditional home building. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision about whether a modular home might be right for you.
What Is a Modular Home?
A modular home is a beautiful combination of craftsmanship and art. It’s also called a prebuilt, prefabbed, or factory-built home — and this gives a good hint about what they are. Modular homes are built inside a giant factory and then shipped to your location. They’re made in pre-assembled pieces that get a final assembly when they arrive at the desired lot.
It’s a tough concept to visualize, because this isn’t the same as a mobile home that gets pulled behind a truck. Prefabbed houses will get transported on a flat bed carrier and assembled using a crane once on site.
Modular Homes vs. Traditional Homes
This is an alternative style to a typical site-built home. Site-built houses are — no big surprise here — built from the bottom to the top at your site. We’re talking about scaffolding, a bunch of construction workers cutting raw lumber and assembling it, and a long building process outdoors. This is the traditional style of home building that most people are familiar with.
This is the fundamental difference between the two: modular homes are mostly constructed in a facility, and site-built homes are mostly constructed on-site. This brings with it a lot of pros and cons.
Benefits of Modern Modular Homes
The unique benefits of modular homes varies from person to person, depending on what you need and what you value. Here are some of the more general pros:
They Can Be Higher Quality
Remember, these homes are being built in massive warehouses that focus solely on making modular homes. They can use special equipment that can’t be used in site-built homes.
Most manufacturing centers have a strict quality control process in place. You won’t run into issues where the builder is incompetent or sloppy or just not sure what’s going on — an all-too-common concern with site-built jobs.
There’s also something to be said about working within a controlled environment, not exposed to the elements. There’s no desire to rush through a job because it’s too cold or rainy outside. Every day is paradise in the modular home building facility!
They Can Go Up Way Faster
This is the biggest benefit for many homebuyers. Close your eyes for a moment and think about all the potential delays site-built homes face. Okay, now open your eyes again so you can keep reading.
None of these delays exist with modular homes:
- Poor weather (rain, snow, ice, too hot, too cold, etc.)
- Tools getting stolen from the build site
- Waiting for material to show up
- Construction crew getting pulled to an emergency off-site
Since modular homes are built indoors by specialized modular home builders, the process is expedited. Many facilities use assembly line-inspired processes that make the build go even quicker.
The Work Is Done Off-Site
Not only is the work done quicker, but a vast majority of the work is done off-site. You won’t have to deal with the eyesore of ongoing construction. This also makes you less susceptible to vandals and hooligans messing with your home while it’s being built.
They’re Less Expensive
It might come as a surprise, but these prefabbed houses are often less expensive. That seems odd since they’re quicker and higher quality, but it’s the truth.
This is largely due to the fact that a single, specialized manufacturer is taking care of the whole process. You don’t have to worry about the up-charging associated with sub-contracting and sourcing different work. In some instances, homebuyers wind up paying 15% less for a modular home. The prefab process can result in significant savings when you consider the overall cost of a home.
There Are More Financing Options
You can get financing through traditional routes, but you can also be referred by your local modular home builder for financing that could be even more competitive.
If nothing else, it’s another option to consider. It gives you a bit more leverage to shop for the right rates before signing any paperwork.
Disadvantages of a Modular Home
So, these homes are cheaper, quicker to build, and higher quality. What could possibly be wrong with them? Well, there are some small disadvantages that are worth pointing out.
They’re Not as Customizable
In the case of modular homes, you’ll typically be shopping from a brochure. You often don’t have the option to present customized blueprints to a team of construction guys and have them get to work.
That said, there are still plenty of options to choose from — it’s just not a 100% customizable process. Most manufacturers use modern layouts and will have lots of floor plans to choose from, that are all viable, so there’s no need to panic about what the modular home floor plans will look like.
You Still Have To Buy the Land
Unless you’re planning on launching your house into space, you’ll have to buy a plot of land to put your modular home on. This is the same idea for people who are building a site-built home from scratch, but it’s worth noting these are two separate purchases — you’ll be purchasing the modular home and the plot of land, although financing can be wrapped around both purchases into one loan and one simple payment.
In this step, make sure you understand the cost of installing a septic system or hooking up to a pre-existing sewer.
Some people wind up buying a lot that already has a home on it. They’ll demolish the currently standing home, clear the site, and then place their modular home on it. If the price is right, it’s not a bad option.
There’s an Unfair Stigma About Them
This is probably the biggest disadvantage of modular homes: people look down on them for some reason. In today’s age, a modular home will often out-perform a stick-built home 9 times out of 10. Still, a bit of a negative stigma associated with modular homes lingers.
In the olden days, modular homes had some quality concerns. This genre of home has never quite shaken its rocky history. There’s a little education that has to be shared with your family and friends while you share the news about your new modular home. But some real estate experts suspect this type of building is ready to boom.
It could be decades until people realize how strong the modern modular home is. Until then, we’ll keep spreading the good news and educating misinformed people.
Typical Modular Home Cost
After reading about some of the benefits of a modular home, you might have your credit card out, ready to swipe for a new house. After all, modular homes are typically less expensive than site-built options.
We’ll look at some figures that are going to vary a lot. Modular home prices vary depending on the size, location, manufacturer, and added necessities (like sewer, electrical, sidewalks, basement, HVAC, and so on).
Small Modular Homes
A small 1,000 square foot house costs around $140,000. This includes the full installation on-site with the foundation.
Two-Story Modular Homes
For two-story modular homes, it depends on the total square footage. On the high end, it could cost $300,000 or more.
The Rule of Thumb
There’s a general range when it comes to the cost associated. Just building the home will cost between $50 to $100 per square foot. The total finished price, including the construction plus installation, costs $90 to $160 per square foot.
For reference, a standard stick-built house costs $95 to $200 per square foot. Custom site-built options can go as high as $550 a square foot.
Who Is a Modular Home Right For?
A modular home can be right for anyone. If you’re planning on having your new home built, then having it pre-built is a great option. It saves you money and time, and you get a higher-quality home. These three categories are among the most important when it comes to considering a house.
If you’re shopping on the market for a home that’s ready to move into, then maybe you won’t lean toward a modular home. The major selling points for a modular home that’s already for sale are that it might be less expensive and the quality of construction is probably superior to site-built homes.
The Secret to Finding Modular Homes Near Me
If you’re trying to decide whether to build a new home or buy an existing one, finding well-built, attractive, and affordable modular homes for sale might be easier than you think. There are a number of websites built to help you search for local modular homes for sale.
Modular Home Building Timeline
The timeline of a modular home is pretty similar to a stick-built option. The main difference has to do with work on the lot and the actual construction. The modular home building process takes five steps and a few months.
Step 1: Set Your Budget
The first step entails going through a pre-approval process. You’ll need to figure out your budget for the build. This is typically done by reaching out to modular home builders and getting budgetary quotes.
Step 2: Get the Lot Ready
Assuming you already have a lot, then it’s time to go through the pre-building process. If you don’t have a lot, then step 1A is to get one. The builder you decide to go with often has a list of lots they can help you obtain.
Getting the lot ready entails going through a good number of tests and inspections. Different parties will look for different information. A reputable local modular builder should be able to help you or take care of this step.
Step 3: Start Designing
Now it’s time to work with your builders on the design. We mentioned earlier that these homes aren’t entirely customizable, but they can be designed to meet your needs. Builders have varying levels of flexibility, but the right builder will want you to get your dream home, and they’ll have lots of great modular home floor plan options.
Most builders have an engineering department in-house that will create the final plans for your modular home. They’ll also either have a Professional Engineer in-house, or they’ll contract it out. This person gives the final stamp of approval that legitimizes the blueprints.
They’ll typically show you the final plans so you can give everything your blessing before moving to the next step.
Step 4: Time To Build
Step 4 is all about building your dream home. When the loan goes through, the plans are approved, and the builders are ready, they’ll get to work.
This step might take between one and four months for the whole process, depending on a lot of variables. At the end of this step, your house will be move-in ready.
That means that a lot of construction goes on during step 4. Your lot will go through some site work to prepare it. This refers to plumbing, septic, foundation, electrical pre-work, and digging the lot.
Meanwhile, your builders will be putting together your prefabbed house. When the house arrives, there’s a little bit of mechanical work that needs to be done and some finishing touches.
Step 5: Final Inspection and Walkthrough
Make sure you have a bottle of champagne on-hand for the fifth and final step of this process: final inspection with walkthrough and moving in to your new home!
You’ll have a home inspector come and look at the construction, making sure everything is up to snuff. A good home builder will certify the prebuilt house, ensuring that it meets universal building code. This means that the final inspection should be brief and nothing major should be spotted.
This is also an opportunity for you to walk through the house and make sure everything is what you initially agreed upon.
When you like what you see, pop that bottle of champagne and start moving in! You’re now the proud owner of a modular home.
Interesting Facts About Modular Homes
Thinking a modular home might be right for you? These interesting facts about prefabbed homes can help round out your knowledge and help you make an informed decision about which type of home is right for you.
- Modular homes are a greener alternative since the process is streamlined and lower-waste tooling is used.
- The taxes are identical between a stick-built and prefabbed home.
- Insurance is also identical between the two options.
- Home loans work out the same between these two homes, but prefabbed houses have a few other options to get a loan.
- Modular homes are built to endure wind gusts of up to 170 miles per hour.
- Modular homes can have basements and crawl spaces.
Finding the Right Modular Home Builders for Your Needs
At Century Home Builders, we focus on building the perfect house for your needs. For more than 45 years, we’ve been making built-to-order homes for people across Indiana. Our team will take care of everything you’re looking for in your dream home. With savings between 20% and 30%, you’ll get a dream quote for the house, too.