Could A Modular Home Be The Best Housing Choice For Your Family?

When you just can't find the perfect home, designing and constructing your own begins to look like a more attractive option. However, building a house from scratch can be an expensive and lengthy process, particularly if you live in a part of the country that receives a lot of precipitation, or where the ground is frozen for much of the year. Modular homes can provide a good alternative to building a home from the ground up, and may allow you to keep some money in your wallet while still creating your dream home. Read on to learn more about the construction and installation of modular homes, as well as some factors you may want to consider to make your decision easier.

How are modular homes constructed?

Most homes are "stick built," or built on site. Construction materials are trucked in to the home's future location, and a crew of workers spend their days pouring the foundation, framing the walls, wiring the electrical system, adding plumbing, and hanging cabinets. Depending on the size of the house, the size of the crew, the availability of materials, the degree of customization, and the weather, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

Modular homes are constructed from the same materials as stick built homes but are assembled in an indoor factory rather than at the home site. After assembly and inspection, the home is transported (in several large pieces) by large flatbed trailers to the home site and placed by large cranes on a poured foundation or basement. Although modular homes are constructed much more quickly than stick built homes, they also require much heavier equipment that can be more difficult to transport.

When is a modular home a good idea?

Modular homes hold several advantages over stick built homes for most homeowners. Because they are assembled in a factory rather than on site, they are protected from wind, rain, and other elements during the construction process. If you live in an area where construction must frequently be halted due to weather, you'll be able to avoid this hassle (and the resulting strain on the wooden structures of your home) by going with a modular design.

The construction of a modular home is also a much simpler and more streamlined process than the construction of a custom stick built home. Generally, after selecting a builder or company, you'll be asked to choose from a variety of sizes and floor plans. Most modular homes are fairly customizable at this stage -- for example, you may be able to slightly alter the model floor plans to place a bedroom or bathroom on the other side of the house.

A final advantage of modular home construction is the price. Because modular homes are mass-produced and require much less manpower and lead time than a stick built home, they are generally available at a much lower cost. You can receive a 10 to 20 percent discount by choosing a modular home instead of an identical stick built home -- a significant amount when you're talking about a home worth tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars.

When is a modular home a bad idea?

Modular homes are often quicker to construct, higher quality, and less expensive than stick built homes -- so what's the downside? One of the main issues that can prevent you from purchasing a modular home is the location and topography of your home site. If you're planning to build in a very rocky or steep area, it may be more difficult to properly fit a modular home to the building site (whereas with a stick-built home you can customize the foundation on site as needed simply by changing the plans). However, if your heart is set on modular, in most cases an excavating contractor can help you fit your dream home into your chosen area.