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Old 12-11-2012, 01:15 PM   #1
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Modular Homes Opinions?


I'm looking for some advice and guidance on building a new home. Me and my wife have found the land where we would like to custom build our home for the next 20 years.

In New England, especially my part, the costs for building a home vary widely, from $125 sq/ft to $275 sq/ft. We've talked to several builders already and they really fall into the "super luxury $400 sq/ft" range to the "$100 sq/ft barely standing" range.

We do have a basic concept plan/floor plan on what we want. Right around 2,500 sq/ft.

Driving around our area the other day, I remembered that we have a pretty large modular home builder in our area. Not "modular" as in trailers or box homes, but modular as in pre-manufactured in the factory and brought to site.

The builder/sales is the manufacturer, and since our potential building site is so close to the factory, they said they would be able to take care of everything from land prep to finish work. They are the largest modular home builder in New England.

They even have some plans that are about 95% of what we were looking for and would only take a few minor adjustments.

The company is: http://www.the-homestore.com/

I do have a few questions:

1. Is the base quality comparable to a on-site custom built house usually?

2. Assuming it is a very good builder, will the finished house look different from other custom built houses?

3. Is there still a stigma for "modular" or "manufactured" homes in resale?

4. Has anyone seen build quality or construction on similar homes?

5. What basic quality questions should I ask? Similar to making sure they use 2x6's on 16. What foundation questions, finish questions, plumbing questions, electrical, etc., so make sure they factor in higher than average construction.

The one thing I did like about the company (we will be meeting with them next week to see one of their model homes) was the ease of using them.

Basically, they said they could meet with us and give us a turnkey price depending on finishes etc., and they would go out to the land and survey it so the quote doesn't have any hidden costs to it.

My wife and I are really looking to either:

A. make it as easy as possible and use this type of builder, or a stick builder that does larger developments (i.e. Toll Brothers).

B. I'm going to invest the time and act as the GC on the build and hire the subs, depending if we start a family before or after the build.

Also, one thing that always puzzled me was how they can make profit and do similar sized houses cheaper than on-site builders. I would have thought that the overhead for a factory and shipping costs, cranes, etc., would surpass a mobile crew that can do individual houses on site.

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Old 12-11-2012, 05:21 PM   #2
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Modular Homes Opinions?


Quote:
Originally Posted by zabak80 View Post
I do have a few questions:

1. Is the base quality comparable to a on-site custom built house usually?

like everything it depends on the company as to quality. I've seen some very nice modular homes in Massachusetts

2. Assuming it is a very good builder, will the finished house look different from other custom built houses?

a modular home should appear the same as a custom home, again based upon the quality of work performed by the company

3. Is there still a stigma for "modular" or "manufactured" homes in resale?

ask friends, coworkers and friends and get their impression, also check with local real estate agents in your area and get their opinion on this

4. Has anyone seen build quality or construction on similar homes?

not sure of the question ....

5. What basic quality questions should I ask? Similar to making sure they use 2x6's on 16. What foundation questions, finish questions, plumbing questions, electrical, etc., so make sure they factor in higher than average construction.

It has been my experience with modulars that the company does not install the foundation, or other custom items such as decks, porches, steps, etc. and have never seen one that performs site work. Not saying that don't, be sure to have it in writing.

The one thing I did like about the company (we will be meeting with them next week to see one of their model homes) was the ease of using them.

have you gotten references from them? have you called local building departments and inquired about the company and if they have setup any in their jurisdiction? if so, go by and say "howdy" to the new owners and see what they think about what they got .... anyone including builders can talk a good talk, the proof is in the puddin' so to speak .... anyone can "appear" to be easy to work with until you start working together

Basically, they said they could meet with us and give us a turnkey price depending on finishes etc., and they would go out to the land and survey it so the quote doesn't have any hidden costs to it.

survey it??????? are you on sewer or will you need a private septic system? are they indicating they will have a licensed land surveyor or professional engineer prepare a site plan or any other engineered plans? needs further explanation on their part.

My wife and I are really looking to either:

A. make it as easy as possible and use this type of builder, or a stick builder that does larger developments (i.e. Toll Brothers).

bigger is not always better ..... if you are thinking of stick built ask friends and family or anyone who's opinion you trust about how built their home or home improvement project and interview them ....

B. I'm going to invest the time and act as the GC on the build and hire the subs, depending if we start a family before or after the build.

unless you have built homes I never recommend this to clients. its not as easy as people say it is, and scheduling conflicts with trades can be a hassle (a builder that uses the same plumber you've hired calls the plumber and says he needs them on his site on the same day he's suppose to be at yours, guess where he's going to be that day ....)

what happens when you get a call at work and the crew needs a decision on something? who's going to pay for their time while they sit around and wait for you to come to the site? wanna guess??

your plumber installs your plumbing and then the drywaller hangs your board. the painter comes in an paints everything the color you want. then you notice a leak at the base of the wall ..... who's paying to open the wall up to fix the leak and then redo everything? wanna guess?????

CGing a project is more involved that making a few phone calls at night to make sure the "subs" are on the schedule ....

I've seen both success and horror stories when people have GC'd their own home. wanna guess which has more?????

Also, one thing that always puzzled me was how they can make profit and do similar sized houses cheaper than on-site builders. I would have thought that the overhead for a factory and shipping costs, cranes, etc., would surpass a mobile crew that can do individual houses on site.

in the same manner as building a car, a custom hand made car will cost you more than a factory built one. you don't have to know how to build a car to work in a factory, just how to assemble certain parts together. their workers do not have to know construction, just how to repeat certain steps in assembling pre-cut pieces. these are typically built in a warehouse to there is little lost time due to weather.

modulars are built in sections, typically the widest a section can be is about 13'-9" (wide load), anything wider requires even more hassles to transport over the road. modulars are good that the sections are wind tested as they travel down the highway.

I myself have no issues with modular homes, just make sure everything is in writing (even when using a local builder). I have seen people scrabble at the last minute trying to find someone to do the items that the modular company didn't (like the construction of decks, steps, etc.).

Hope this helps, Good luck!

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Old 12-11-2012, 06:06 PM   #3
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Modular Homes Opinions?


Yes, that absolutely helps.

I guess my ultimate goal with the thread is to establish if modular homes would be a legitimate option before I spend a lot of my time looking at references, local Building Departments, research lawsuits against them, complaints, etc.

So far, I haven't read anyone saying "stay away, they're cheap and poorly built" or "modular homes aren't worth it" and so on. That would be a clear sign for me to not even consider them.

I've just read the regular "research the builder", "do your homework", "get everything in writing", etc. That shows it may be an option and worth a few hours of my time to explore a bit more.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:13 PM   #4
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Beware, there's many mobil home companys try to pass off there "manufactured" home off as modulers.
There nothing more then a double wide.
Fleetwood, Clayton, Champion are three that come to mind.

If you go back and add your location to your profile you may get some better replys.
I know there's three moduler companys in NH in the Concord area. Some have been in business for over 30 years.
I worked on many moduler homes. Where most mess up is they try to go to fast and want to set the home on top of a foundation that's only been sitting for a couple of days. I feel you should wait a couple of weeks.
Once set up some of the finish crews they send in just do not care.
Many times I've been called in to fix all the things they messed up.
Added a garage with no step flashing, did not run the sheathing past the pored knee wall, so you could see day light under the bottom plate.
Suppot to be seamless gutters, but for some reason there was a coupling right over the front door that leaked. They used sheetrock screws to install the gutters.
Sometimes it's little things like how they nail the knee walls in place on the second floor that end up being a night mare to fix. How simple, mark each end with a plumb line and snap a chalk line, nope they just nailed it. looked like a snake.
Nailing in the cross ties no one paid attention to getting them level or what side they nailed them on. So when you go to install the sheetrock there's nothing there to attach the rock to.
They installed the vinyl siding so tight it all buckled and had to be redone when the sun hit it.
It's all in the little details.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:21 PM   #5
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Modular Homes Opinions?


A lot of folks confuse modular with "mobile" or "manufactured" houses. A mobile home is one which can be transported whole over the run, then erected on a foundation. A modular home simply means that the house is built in modules, which may include walls, occasionally an entire room, and occasionally even foundations (there is one company that specializes in preconstructed concrete foundations).

In principal, you should get a better product from a modular versus on site constructed house, since the modular home is constructed in a controlled environment. Of course the quality depends on the materials and the workmanship at the factory, but the same can be said about site built, and the factory presumably has the advantage of absolute control over the environment.

I recently read an article comparing fully modular, semi-modular, and site built homes, I believe it was in Fine Homebuilding. The conclusion was that each method was capable of producing good results, and there was no clear cut winner. One of the advantages cited for modular was rapid construction, at the expense of some flexibility in the design. But realistically, even with a modular home, you are still going to have on site constructed interior space, typically including floors, cabinets, finishes, and probably some wiring and plumbing, so even the most modular is not yet like a bolt it together kit.

Also note that there are site erected techniques which can substantially reduce construction time, including use of floor and roof trusses, and premanufactured wall systems which can be bolted together on site. You may want to consider these if time is critical.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:07 PM   #6
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No matter which way I go, I would hire a local builder as a consultant on the project to make sure all the stuff you mentioned is done.

By the survey of the land, I meant that they would be willing to visit the land I was considering purchasing and give a full quote, from excavation, foundation, to finished house.

I like this because I would know my full building and prep costs when negotiating the land price. It would also make me more comfortable with sitting on the land for a year or two.
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:42 AM   #7
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I ordered a Modular home 22 years ago and have nothing but good to say about it. The exterior walls are 2x6, the insulation is R-30 attic, the house is wrapped with Tyvek, none of the floors squeak anywhere, I have a full basement under it with Bilco doors, my basement ceiling is insulated, electric heat in every room with wall thermostats, all electrical boxes are sealed and caulked.
When the wind blows even in major wind storms the curtains never move.
It's a well built home in a controlled environment, all the walls are straight as an arrow, all the floors are level. all the electrical boxes are the exact distance off the floor, the doors and windows all open great and are never stuck.
If I were you I would take a tour through the factory to see how they are built.
OH, I have lived in around 9 stick built houses in PA and FL and none of them compare to the quality of this one. Sorry I went on and on and didn't answer your questions. Pm me if you want to discuss any thing else .
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:09 AM   #8
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I once worked for a modular house builder in Plaistow NH. Their quality was second to no stick built. Framing tolerances were closer than 1/8". They could do up to 3 story houses, in any length, (just keep adding units), almost any design, and pass any code from Maine to NY. They didn't do foundation, sitework, etc., but had subcontractors that would do it for them. Downside was, (for a carpenter), it was a house factory. They moved to PA so I left. Doing your homework is what you need to decide if one is good.

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