Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I see what just happened!  A lot of people's heads snapped around in unison and said "WHAT!"

Yes, you heard me right.  Modular homes built in a factory are built better than those old fashioned "Stick Built" ones.  Let me show you.

1.  Modular home builders have a large support team to help them answer any question that comes up including concerns about engineering, Energy Star and green construction.  All at no extra cost to the builder.  Site builders have to run around to different people trying to get the answers they need.

2.  Modular home builders don't have to invest in an inventory of building materials that are used in their homes.  The factory holds the inventory and uses it on a "just in time" construction method.  Site builders have to stock pile their lumber, windows, exterior doors, shingles and siding in the weather until they are ready to use them.

3.  Modular home builders don't have to worry that their homes pass Federal, State or local IRC codes, thus eliminating the need to run from agency to agency to get them stamped or inspected.  That's the factory's responsibility.  Site builders have to have a series of inspections during construction that can set a home back weeks if the inspectors find a problem.

4.  Modular homes are built by local skilled factory workers that have full-time supervision, steady work and a safe working environment.  Site built homes are constructed by a group of workers that might include a couple skilled workers, maybe several part time college students home for the summer or immigrants with little or no English language or construction skills.

5.  Modular home builders have a factory to make repairs if something is broken or missing at little or no cost.  Site builders have to make their own repairs out of pocket and in a lot of instances they aren't sure which worker or tradesman caused it.

6.  Modular home builders are usually done building the house for the customer quicker which means the consumer is into their home faster and with less interest being paid to the bank.  Site builders usually take 2 to 4 months longer to complete a home.

It's not the site builder's fault that they have so many things to do to build a house, they just haven't embraced modular yet.  If you are looking to build a new home soon, ask your builder to consider using modular!


Oaks said...

i have worked on both sides of the fence - both modular and site built. If modular manufacturers AND builders could deliver on the quality that they promise than i would agree with you. i haven't seen it yet though. the sophistication that exists in the site built world isn't available in the modular world yet. the promises are the same but unfortunately the manufactures build too quickly and without proper QC and then sell to builders often operating out of pick up trucks and in the end the educated homeowner is left wondering if all the 'modular advantages' they were sold offset the lack of quality.

The modular world needs to move beyond a backwoods mentality and understanding of quality or the advantages of the product will continue to be overshadowed by the lack of craftsmanship.

A quick home at market rate only goes so far. As long as the market is still struggling, each builder, and more importantly each building method needs to not only distinguish itself but also, at a bare minimum, maintain the status quo with their competition. Modular manufacturers are continuing to trade builders with eachother without generating significant new business because they are not maintaining the status quo of the site builders - primarily quality and professionalism.

Until we put practical application to our sales pitch our industry will continue to fight over crumbs.

Anonymous said...

Agree one hundred percent with the comment. They just keep chasing the same builders and each time the builder finds out that if you put them all in a pot and shake them out, they all come out the same. Once the builder is signed up, then any special request by the builder gets an answer of " we can't do it and thats the way it is!" and the builder goes back to stick building. The primary advantage of modular was speed of construction but with subs standing around with nothing to do, the stick builder is getting his speed, customization, and lower pricing, especially with the added fuel transporation charges.