Despite being long viewed as only a slight step up from mobile homes, modular homes are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the residential construction industry. Modular construction increased by 48 percent from 1992 to 2002, according to a National Association of Home Builders report cited on PRWeb. These homes are preferred by many innovative home designers and are used for affordable apartments, student housing, contemporary residences, and commercial buildings around the world.
Combining the benefits of a controlled manufacturing environment with on-site construction provides a great deal of flexibility and eliminates many annoyances builders have faced for years. Still, modular construction may not be the right choice for every homeowner. The following are a few things for you to consider:
What Is a Modular Home?
Modular homes are also known as system-built, factory-built, or prefab homes because they are built in complete sections inside large factories. These sections include all interior and exterior walls, wiring, plumbing, floors, and ceilings. They are made from the same materials found in site-built homes, such as wood, gypsum board, and vinyl. However, because they're built inside, they're more likely to meet important aspects of the ICC – 700 National Green Building Standard, including resource, energy, and water efficiency. After manufacturing, the finished sections are wrapped and transported to the construction site. They are placed on a prepared foundation, and the finish work is completed by a local builder.
While manufactured homes (mobile homes) are built according the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, modular homes must meet the local building codes of their ultimate destination. Because local codes vary, construction standards often exceed the codes in place.
Pros of a Modular Home
Modular homes are available in as many styles as site-built homes. They can be placed on slabs, crawlspaces, or basements. Reduced waste in the factory and on the job site has a positive environmental impact by minimizing the amount of material that ends up in landfills. This is one way modular construction saves money for the home buyer.
Factory-built homes can also be completed in a few weeks, whereas site-built homes take several months and are often delayed by inclement weather. By being manufactured in a controlled environment, modular homes are protected from the elements at every step of the process. This reduces damage and the risks of theft and vandalism.
A shorter construction cycle means lower labor costs as well. Builders can earn more per hour with modular homes, while the home buyer pays less for the finished product.
Most potential issues with modular homes result from perception. These homes may spend more time on the market than similar site-built homes in the area because buyers may not understand the building process and fear the home won't appraise properly or will depreciate in value.
Just as all local builders are not equal, one modular construction company may be top-notch while another may use cheap materials and have lax quality control. Anyone considering modular construction should do their homework and thoroughly check the reputation of several modular manufacturers.
Everything has to be just right with modular home sections once they arrive on-site. When foundations aren't quite level, adjustments can be made more easily to site-built homes. Prefab homes are designed and engineered differently than site-built homes. Owners must account for structural support and may be limited on remodeling projects that owners of site-built homes take for granted.
If you're looking to save money on building costs or want to buy a green home, modular construction could be the answer. As with any home purchase, be sure to get a thorough inspection to see whether the house needs any repairs.