Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day

It's time to take a break from the blog and honor those brave men and women who have served in the United States armed forces and those that are currently serving.

Peg and I wish everyone a safe and happy 
Memorial Day Weekend.

Remembering those that served

Remembering those that are serving today

Enjoying a picnic with friends and family

The Indianapolis 500

Nascar's Coca Cola 600

Top Modular Home Builder Blogs

Blogs should be a very important part of any new home builder’s website. It has been mentioned quite often on this blog that a modular builder should have at least a two pronged marketing approach to catch the new home buyer’s attention.

First is a Facebook page. This is super easy to set up. People looking for a new home will find it. The purpose of the FB page is NOT to show nice pictures and interesting videos. The real purpose is to act as a gateway to your website.

Once there, you need to give them something to hold their attention longer than 4 seconds and one of the most effective ways to do that is with a blog. That combo of a FB page and an onsite blog can be your 1 -2 knockout punch.

So what is stopping you? Most of you say that you just don’t have enough time to do it but that is just an excuse for the real reasons. You don’t know what to write about, how to write and you don’t understand who you should be targeting. All good reasons but the bottom line is you just need to find two hours in your work week, then sit down and write. Write about a house you built, write about someone that is happy with their new home, write about how your business is sponsoring a Little League team. Just write one small article a week and after one full year you will have 50+ articles that prospective home buyers can read and spend many minutes on your site instead of clicking off in just 4 seconds.

Here are some modular home builders, in alphabetical order, that understand that the simple task of writing a blog works wonders for their bottom line.

Connecticut Valley Homes: Looking for their “blog” is a chore. It’s there, buried in the ‘About Us’ button down at the ‘in the news’ section. Once you get there, the information is good and useful but it needs a ton of pictures. This could be the beginning of a really good blog. CLICK HERE to read the blog.

Dreamline Homes: What could be a good blog but isn’t. With only 3 outdated articles, this blog could be much more. Dreamline builds some of the most beautiful modular homes in the nation and prospective home buyers want to read about what you do. Take a few hours a month and begin making your blog match your homes. CLICK HERE to read more.

Eco-Craft Homes: This isn’t a true blog but I really like it. It can be found under the “Media” button marked News. It has a lot of the features a blog should have. Tons of pictures and lots of interesting articles but because it is listed as it is many potential new home buyers are probably overlooking it. Suggestion: change the name to Blog, keep it updated and it will be a good marketing tool. CLICK HERE to read the blog.

Express Modular: This is one of my favorite builder blogs so far. It is updated quite often, has lots of pictures and videos, is user friendly and is accessed either from the front page of the website or from a regularly updated Facebook page. CLICK HERE to read the blog.

The Home Store: A good blog with not only pictures of homes but lots of unique information for the prospective new home buyer. Only wish is for current blog posts as the last one was in October 2015. CLICK HERE to read the blog.

U S Modular: Their blog is listed under “In the News”. If you are a modular home builder, this is a blog that you should emulate. It is timely, has some of the best pictures posted by anyone and is amazingly current. This is another of my favorites. CLICK HERE to read the blog.

ATTENTION BUILDERS: If I missed your business’ blog and would like it recognized, send the link to

New Company Building Modular Homes on Vacant Lots in North Minneapolis

An article in the Star Tribune

A Twin Cities start-up construction company is launching an effort to fill hundreds of vacant lots in north Minneapolis — remnants of the city’s predatory lending and foreclosure crisis — with factory-built homes from Dynamic Homes that will be made and sold for far less than the cost of an average new house today.

“This is what we’ve been trying to do for five years,” said Cherie Shoquist, a project manager for the city’s planning and economic development department, lauding the plan as a solution to a long-term problem.

Smart Homes, a private company that’s associated with Fridley-based minority-owned Thor Construction Co., broke ground Thursday on a model house — a four-bedroom bungalow at 43rd and Irving Avs. N. that will have 1,800 square feet of living space and a garage. The company is ready to start construction on another 15 lots, and the company expects to continue to acquire sites as demand dictates.

Although Thor will provide some support, the houses will be built in a factory in Detroit Lakes by Dynamic Homes and delivered to the site in sections.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Star Tribune article

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Express Modular Looking to Add More Territory Sales Managers

Express Modular, the only Coast to Coast modular home builder is looking to expand their business and add 4 more territory sales manager positions. Express Modular is suffering from too many new home buyers and not enough sales managers.
Territory Manager - Midwest – Residential MOD Territory Manager - Northeast – Residential MOD Territory Manager - South – Residential MOD Territory Manager - Northwest – Residential MOD
If helping hundreds of new home buyers in your area purchase a new home from you is something you can handle, you need to contact them. Today!

Keiser Homes Closing Disrupts Farmington, Maine Housing Complex Renovation

The developers of 82 High Street, an affordable housing complex, have to find another modular home manufacturer to complete the project.

An article from from

An affordable housing complex in Farmington, Maine is searching for alternative modular building manufacturers to complete planned renovations after manufacturer Keiser Homes closed recently.

The developers of 82 High Street, a nonprofit affordable housing complex, had planned on buying three modular apartment buildings from Oxford-based Keiser Homes, but with the company’s abrupt closing earlier this month, the complex’s board of directors will review proposals from three other companies in order to stay on track with the project.

The board of directors met Thursday with representatives from Cousineau Inc. of Wilton, the Keiser Home dealer and construction company that was overseeing the construction of the 82 High Street development.

While 82 High Street had already put a deposit down on the three modular buildings, Cousineau, which has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get the deposit back, has promised to absorb the cost of the deposit if it’s not repaid, said Rachel Jackson Hodson, the manager of 82 High Street.

“We’re the ones taking the loss,” Randy Cousineau, president of Cousineau Inc., said Monday. “We’re going to honor the original contract.”

Jackson Hodson said the directors will meet again this Thursday with Cousineau representatives to review three proposals from other modular home companies.

CLICK HERE to read the entire

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Best Modular Home Factory Blogs

Today’s new home buyers look to the Internet first to begin their journey of looking for new home builders and in the case of modular housing, they go to both the modular home builder and modular factory’s websites to find information.

Almost every factory has a Facebook page and that is great but the ultimate purpose of that is to drive people to your website where they will spend time learning about the factory and why modular is a great (and best) way to build their new home.

There is proof from many sources that one of the best ways to keep your website’s visitors engaged is to have an interesting blog. One that is relevant to what they are seeking and up to date.

In my quest to find factory websites that have good blogs, I came up several criteria to determine what makes a good blog.

  1. Is the “blog” easy to find on the factory website
  2. Is the information useful to new home buyers
  3. Is is updated regularly

Using these as a benchmark, here are the best blogs currently on modular home factory websites in alphabetical order:

Beracah Homes. Here we have a blog listed under “news’. But this one does something a lot of factory websites don’t use often enough. Pictures! People, houses and other interesting pictures and articles. One of the better ones. Click Here to read their blog.

Dickinson Homes. There is a lot of information here but it tends to be on the technical side. If they had two blogs, one for new home buyers and one for builders, this blog should be on the builder blog. In fact, this is something they should consider. Click Here to read their blog. 

Signature Homes. Their blog is actually on a tab marked “news”. Upon clicking on it I found some good stuff that new home buyers would probably read. The downside is that it is not updated often with new finished homes which is why new home buyers like looking at blogs in the first place. Signature builds some of the most beautiful custom homes in the industry and this would be a great place to show them off to home buyers. Click Here to read their blog.

Silver Creek. Technically this is not a modular home factory but is a huge commercial modular plant. There blog is targeted to the commercial market that wants facts, articles about why they should buy from Silver Creek and projects they have completed. To that end, it is a good blog. Clearly marked on their homepage and with a lot of information. Click Here to read their blog.

Simplex Homes. This blog is my favorite so far. Lots of pictures. Lots of homes and lots of reasons for a new home buyer to stay on the site. It is also interesting to note that the sales staff writes a lot of the articles. What a great way to keep them engaged, challenged and in tune with what new home buyers want. Click Here to read their blog.

Triumph Modular. Again, not a modular home factory but a darn good blog. Clearly they have been doing this for quite some time and their articles hit their targeted commercial market right between the eyes. Click Here to read their blog.

Vermont Modular. When it comes to modular factory blogs, this is a must read by everyone in the modular industry. Up to date, loaded with information and plenty of pictures. Their blog has been around since 2010 but has really gotten meat on its bones over the past 4 years. Click Here to read their blog.

Westchester Homes. This website meets all the criteria with good information and regularly updated. What I wish I could see are some pictures to make the visitor want to click on each of the articles. Google can pick up pictures, add them to a new home buyer’s search where they can be found by people that may post them on Pinterest and Facebook and that will link back to Westchester. Click Here to read their blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

California Builder Explains Net Zero, High Performance and Energy Star Homes

Modular home builders in Maryland, California and several of the New England states understand the need to adapt their homes to get as close to Net Zero as possible but when I talk to modular builders and even factory people in the midwest and southern states, they tend to look like deer caught in headlights when I question them about it.

That is what prompted me to ask Steve Lefler, VP of Modular Lifestyles in Orange County, California for help with an explanation. I am as much in the dark as many of you to exactly what terms like Energy Efficiency, Green, Net Zero, LEED and High Performance really mean and how to convey them properly to home builders.

Steve, thank you for helping my readers to understand what is happening right now in California and what is probably heading their way as other states begin adopting tougher energy codes and regulations.

Steve Lefler
1. What do the term Net Zero, High Performance and Energy Star mean and are they interchangeable in the buyer’s minds?

Simply put each term is specific to a group who is promoting vested interest brand or label.

California Net Zero = 2020 New Residential compliance to all residential builders. Net Zero is a Title 24 site built home who if built in 1990 is to achieve energy efficiency in 2020 at 80% savings in usage and cost to the homeowner. The CEC and CPUC Title 24 building reports reflect measured performance using their computer model to equal or exceed this goal by a % to a standard. Their idea is to create, design and build homes that operate at 80% savings and the 20% remaining will be supplied by the utility’s investment in renewables. The humor is that these homes can get to (0) operating cost and they skip the 20% once the building envelope is built to a higher standard. It appears to us the home product is much better and it cuts out the utility completely to become a possible Off the Grid with the addition of the new battery technology if introduced. Just another example of unintended consequences of American ingenuity. The Department of Energy has guidelines for builders (site built only) to achieve Net Zero

High performance although no label is mandated that I know of. It appears to really signify a measured performance to home buyers by a builder for marketing ( a list of known energy efficient  items were placed into the home) which makes their home operate better than a standard. Whatever that builder standard is making a comparison.

Energy Star is a Department of Energy label with a big message. Better is better.
The blue ENERGY STAR label on a new home means: Peace of Mind, Enduring Quality, Wall-to-Wall Comfort, and Proven Value.  ENERGY STAR certified new homes are designed and built to standards well above most other homes on the market today, delivering energy efficiency savings of up to 30 percent when compared to typical new homes.

2. Why is it important for modular builders to become energy specialists?

In my experience, Factory built is the quickest way residential builders can achieve Net Zero or Passive built houses.

A factory offers a controlled environment to control waste, efficient best practices to build a home to a measured standard. Their production testing using a Duct blower and the Door blower test ensures NO leakage.

3. Do the modular factories you work with have good energy options available or did you have to educate them?

I am fortunate our company has many Factory built communities (Manufactured Home Communities) our image and perception are tarnished by the media and the public. However we leveraged our community’s needs for new houses with our desire to operate at less cost, improve the image of our communities using Net Zero manufactured houses and create a new business model for the future.  

The factories do not warranty or make any representation that their homes offer energy savings, are efficient or meet a Green code.

4. As a modular home builder, was it hard for you to have the factory switch from what they normally as standard specs to what is needed to be Net Zero or High Performance?

Northstar Expanding Their Workforce

Northstar Systembuilt is a family run Custom Modular Home Manufacturer based in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. We are currently seeking to increase our Team and have vacancies in the following to areas.

·       Custom Modular homes
o   Sales Drawings
o   State Submittals
o   Shop Prints
·       Experience with above points preferably, however any level of experience considered
·       Location - Onsite in Redwood Falls, MN Office Preferably/Remote considered
·       Attractive Remuneration
Onsite Service
·       Vehicle provided
·       All tools provided
·       Attractive Remuneration

Please respond to Lawrence Scott via e-mail or phone 507-587-8242 for more information on these positions.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Employees of Excel Homes Ask "What's Next?"

In a story by PAHomepage, which includes a video of how former Excel Homes employees are finding work in neighboring modular home factories, it shows the latest views of the closed Liverpool, PA factory and what the employees are faced with now.

Excerpt from the PAHomepage article:

'Excel Homes' near Selinsgrove started laying off nearly 300 of its employees a month ago - and then just this week laid off the rest.  Eyewitness News Reporter Cody Butler takes a look what next for employees.

Locks secure a gate outside 'excel homes', preventing anybody from getting in, including some 280 employees.

"That's it, we’re bankrupt, we're done, then it hit home, then it hurts a lot worst." Said Holli Fawver, Former employee

Holli Fawver started working at the modular home manufacturer 14-years ago as an engineering clerk.
Since her work place went under, she and several other former employees applied to 'Apex Homes of PA' in Middleburg.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article and watch the video

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finally, New Home Construction Can't Keep Pace with Demand

The number of new homes built in April was down from this time last year, but the number in the works was up notably, and yet both pieces of information may not make much difference in the availability of new houses, particularly to new and first time home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The number of houses-to-be might not be enough to fulfill pent-up demand, rising prices, and bidding wars for houses across the country is based on the U.S.

Department of Commerce’s latest residential construction report, which shows that the total number of newly built homes in April dropped 5.8 percent (to 72,600) from a year ago and 6.4 percent from March. Those numbers, however, were not adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations.

On the other side of these numbers is the fact that there were close to 1 million new homes under construction in April, which is a 15.7 percent uptick compared to a year ago and a 2.5 percent bump compared to March.

The news coincides with numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD on Tuesday, which found that home building in the U.S. picked up again in April after reaching the slowest pace in seven months. The numbers came from the jointly released new residential construction statistics for April 2016, which showed that privately-owned housing starts rose 6.6 percent from March's rate of 1,099,000 to 1,172,000 in April at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

However, year-over-year, housing starts are down 1.7 percent from last April's rate of 1,192,000.