Before discussing the differences between on-site, conventionally built homes and modular homes, let’s resolve a common misconception. A modular home is a manufactured home, but it should not be confused with what is commonly referred to as a mobile home. Modular homes bear little resemblance to mobile homes; modular homes look like site- or stick-built homes, and many times the only way to tell the difference is by the serial number and label. These are required by law and can usually be found near an exterior door or inside a cabinet.
Obviously, with stick built homes, built on site, you have more design opportunities, and some changes can be made during construction.. That being said, there is a large number of design options available when planning construction of a modular home. It’s a safe bet you’ll find exactly what you want. Modular homes are much less costly than stick built homes for a number of reasons. They are built by teams of craftsmen working together. Stick built homes, constructed on site, require a number of sub-contractors: carpenters, electricians, painters, etc. Sub-contractors typically generate increased labor costs. Measuring, cutting, fitting is difficult and time consuming. And mistakes cost money both in time and materials.
Weather, too, is a cost factor in stick built construction. Inclement weather, extreme heat or cold, can delay or stop construction for extended periods of time. Materials left out in the open can become damaged and unfit for use. Conversely, components for modular homes are built inside a factory and are not subject to weather conditions.
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Another saving in modular homes might be for interior fittings. Kitchen equipment, recessed tubs, plumbing and bathroom fixtures are, many times, bought in large quantities for factory built homes thus allowing them to be purchased at reduced prices. However, you can still buy a preferred brand or style of fixture if you wish to do so.
Because of their style of construction, modular homes tend to be stronger than stick built homes. Homes built in regions where hurricanes are common have been known to withstand wind gusts from 110 to more than 130 an hour. Federal laws require smoke detectors and escape windows as safety features. Limited combustible material around furnaces and water heaters is also required, adding still more safety.
Modular homes can be constructed much more quickly because they are pre-built at the factory before being trucked to the building site and assembled. Most of the required inspections can be done at the factory. And the homes must comply with all local and state codes.
Before purchasing a modular home, make sure your lot is zoned for modular home construction. This is sometimes a problem but is becoming less so as modular homes become more accepted. Like stick built homes, financing for modular homes is available through FHA, VA or conventional plans.
Stick built or modular, choose carefully. Your home is one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. But don’t let the term ‘modular’ keep you from giving this type of construction serious consideration.