As builders and remodelers, one would think we would turn our nose up at the concept of modular homes; this couldn’t be further from the truth! Most of us think of modular homes as a series of rectangle boxes, stacked up and bolted together just so a builder can save money. Believe it or not, the modular home industry has evolved drastically and the homes are now coming in all shapes and sizes. There are some limitations to the sizes of the boxes that can be delivered, but you can largely accomplish most anything you want with modular products.
Your standard center hall colonial? Modular does that. A lake style chalet? Modular can do that. A beach front bungalow? Modular does it. A California contemporary? Modular can handle it.
So why modular? Why would builders like ourselves want to outsource so much of the actual building? Is it simply to save money? Or are there other factors?
The strongest case for modular homes, believe it or not, is quality. As any of you who have ever had an addition put on your house know, weather is a major factor in schedule as well as the finished product. We may have an addition framed, but not under roof, and experience three days of rain. This causes wood to swell, forcing us to halt additional steps until it is dry. Once drywall is installed, we may be forced to set up blowers and dryers to ensure the spackle dries adequately, sometimes causing schedules to be delayed.
Modular homes are built in a controlled environment, with consistent temperatures, no weather delays and laser precision fabrication tools. All framing material is kiln dried prior to install and remains dry throughout the duration of construction. All drywall finishing is done at a consistent temperature and allowed to properly cure. These are just a few examples of how a controlled environment significantly improves the end result of a new build.
Modular construction also works wonders for construction schedules. The majority of the home can be built while site prep, excavation, foundation, water service, sewer service, gas service and a temporary driveway are being taken care of. The result is that when we are ready to start framing a house, we are actually going to receive a house that is fully framed, wired, ductwork installed, drywall hung and bathrooms prepped for tile. The setting of the boxes can take as little as one day or sometimes as long as one week, leaving us with only final mechanical hook ups to make and interior finishes to install.
The next time you hear about someone building a modular home, don’t think cheap and easy, think high construction quality, efficient schedule, and less hiccups during the build.
Christopher Lux has spent the last 15 years in the residential remodeling industry and is a Design Build Consultant with Harth Builders in Spring House, PA. Chris is available for in home consultations as well as speaking engagements by calling 215-654-0364