Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Listen Carefully!  That sound of wailing and crying is the modular housing industry morphing into a new creature.  Long built on traditional style housing like ranch, capes and colonial 2 story homes, modular home factories are expanding into major commercial and residential projects.

A few years ago Deluxe Homes in Berwick, PA chose to move into large multi-family and commercial projects and away from single family home building.  Now other factories are joining them in the hunt for things to build that keep the factory doors open.

And lo and behold, these same factories found that there is real money in these projects.  The project developers really don’t care that much about every little detail in each unit being different from the next.  Time and money is their credo.  And some modular home factory owners are stepping up and meeting this directive.

There are now projects on the boards with 300, 600 and I just heard about one of over 1,000 modules for a single housing complex.  Renters are now one of the biggest markets that developers are tapping and modular construction is the ticket that fits this best.  Owners have found that with the switch from being primarily single family home producers to multi-unit producers, some of their inherent costs start going down. 

Sales reps will be fewer and further between.  Inside sales coordinators will work both the small builder and the large developer.  Even the engineering and material acquisition staffs will be reduced. With mortgage loans getting harder for new home owners to acquire, the change to commercial is inevitable.

There is also a movement by small, Eco based Architect firms, who have been hurt by the lack of custom homes to design, to try something new.  Enter what I call the Lego house (which looks like my grandson might build) to the MK Design type homes which resemble single wide mobile homes and finally to the designers that are trying to retrofit shipping containers for human occupancy.  Good luck to all of them but I can’t see where any of these movements will really catch on.

And finally, there are the traditional modular home factories that have either declined to embrace the commercial or multi-family projects and continue to try to market their traditional line-up of homes to a dwindling new home builder base.  Some of these will be successful if they can just hold out until the recovery but others are doomed and we will start to see even more of these smaller factories fall by the side of the road.

The next time you call a modular factory, listen carefully for either the sound of a new birth or the scream of a dying factory.  Sometimes they almost sound the same.

1 comment:

modular building guy said...

Hello from England! If you really want to see a modular building that looks like Lego check out the link! :)