Should I Consider Modular Construction?

Contrary to popular belief, the concept and building of modular homes are not of recent vintage. Beginning in 1895, Sears, Roebuck & Co. offered do-it-yourself home kits and building plans, sold via mail order. From 1908–1940, about 500,000 of these homes were sold–there is one right here in Riverdale! From 1945 on, when soldiers returning from World War II needed affordable homes to be built as quickly as possible, modular construction has become an accepted part of home building in the United States.

Most of us are accustomed to site-built, or “stick-built” homes, which are constructed at the building site. In contrast, modular homes are built off-site, section by section, at a factory. Modular homes must conform to state and local building codes. At the building site, local building inspectors check for compliance.

Proponents of modular construction tout its superiority to that of stick-built homes:

  • One of the advantages of modular homes is that they are constructed indoors in a climate-controlled atmosphere. Therefore, they are not impacted by adverse weather conditions, thereby eliminating weather-related damages and construction delays. As each section is constructed, quality control is exercised and modules are inspected several times during the manufacturing process.
  • With regard to quality control, modular enthusiasts say that factory labor in the construction of modular homes is more closely supervised than on-site labor so that the finished product is superior to that of site-built homes. Automated assembly equipment produces a uniform product of superior quality because low-quality materials do not work well with precision factory equipment.
  • Modular home components must be built to withstand highway transport and lifting by cranes onto the foundation. Special very strong materials are used to join the segments of the house together. Ceilings, walls and floors are reinforced and corners are bolted together to produce a very strong finished home. More lumber is used than in stick-built homes.
  • Another advantage is the speed with which a modular home can be constructed, as compared to a stick-built home. Depending upon size and design, the segments of a house can be constructed in as little as one to two weeks although four to six weeks would not be uncommon.
  • Not only does the modular construction method allow the house to be built in a shorter amount of time but this shorter time frame may also result in a lower price for the finished product. After the time spent on factory construction, the local builder then spends an additional two to four weeks to complete the work on site.

When it comes to financing, most banks do not differentiate between stick-built and modular homes. Modular homes may cost less than stick-built so they may be easier to afford, which in turn makes it easier for the applicant to obtain mortgage approval from the lending institution. A modular home can save you money, help the environment and withstand much stronger conditions that a site-built home, so it is no surprise that modular homes are increasing in popularity every day.