Thursday, October 20, 2011


2,000 years ago our ancestors were building homes from sticks, fastening systems and mud bricks with straw for roofing.  Today we are still building with sticks (dimensional lumber), fastening systems (nails and screws) and straw roofing (shingles and metal).  They also used any labor that was at hand to build their homes.

Here we are in 2011 and guess what, most people still want a site-built home.  Do you know why?

Because nobody is telling them why modular home construction is superior.  Consumers have been told over the years that you have to watch their house being built to insure they get a quality job.  Let's agree on one thing right now.....the average new home buyer doesn't know the difference between below-average and superior construction.  It's not their job!

What the new buying public needs is an easy to understand reason to buy a modular home instead of a site-built home.  So here we go, a comparison that every modular factory person and every modular home builder can use to educate the new home buyer.

Site Built Home Construction Modular Home Construction

* Disorganized construction * Organized construction
* Workers are independent from each other * Each production station is organized
* Work is fragmented * Work is compartmentalized
* Poor communication between trades * Total communication between trades

Inefficiencies of site built homes Efficiencies of modular homes

* Raw Materials delivered to site  * Raw materials on hand
* Many trips to each job site by workers  * Workers drive to central factory 
* Physical labor applied to every piece and part * Automated and labor saving devices used
* Work area set up and taken down daily * Work stations are permanent
* Linear construction process * Multiple stations working on same project
* Inadequate hand and power tools * Professional tools and machines in place
* Down-time due to weather * Very little downtime if any
* All materials exposed to weather and vandalism * All production secured under roof

Now for some real eye-opening facts:
  • Majority of those working in site building have no more than a high school education and have no formal training in the work they do every day.
  • Training and supervision on site-built homes is often performed by those with the few skills and little training themselves.
  • Street corner pick up laborers are used by many smaller site builders to hold costs down.

When the housing recession finally starts to turn around in 2013, who will be available to build the houses?  Recession has decimated the labor and subcontracting pools.  The trades needed by site builders will not be a popular destination for young people.

This means that the site building industry will be faced with extremely high turnover rates, dropping labor skills and higher wages.

A few years ago Consumer Reports said the new homes are the most defective product consumer can own.  Since modular construction only has 3% of the total new home market, they couldn't have been talking about us.  Consumer Reports noted that there is a 15% serious defect in new homes.

Interestingly, the same report sighted manufacturers in America have a 1% serious defect rate and if a home is built in a factory, it has a huge advantage over site built homes.

I could also do a comparison of green, energy saving and sustainability between site built and modular construction but I will save that for another article.

Faced with these realities, home buyers will begin looking for a better way to build their new home and modular should be the answer to their prayers.  


Tom Russell said...

Thanks Coach. This points out some of the less obvious advatages. Mind if I use this list as part of a hand-out?

Coach said...

Tom, you have my permission to use it. Now go forth and prosper!!!!

William said...

VERY good post Coach. Now IF ONLY some of the manufacturers will encorporate what you have written into their sales training. EVERY sales rep must commit to memory this posting. I am confident it will help in the recruitment of "stick" builders to the factory discipline(s).
May I suggest that you add to this post and add Manufactured Housing, typically known as mobile homes, HUD Code, trailers, etc. That would be a nice completion to your posting.

SPeterson said...

May I add this to your list?

In site-built construction, the inspections of the building are optional, meaning the inspector might inspect the home or he might not. Typically, he is given 3 days notice and if he can't make it, the construction continues. Sometimes, in certain areas of the country, inspections aren't even required. Sometimes the plans are reviewed prior to construction to assure complinace to the applicable Codes.

In modular construction, each and every aspect of the home is inspected by the in-plant QA inspectors in every station of production. As an added value, an independent third-party inspector comes in and monitors the QA program, the QA inspectors and the construction of the home to an approved set of plans.

In short, the quality controls involved in a modular home far exceed those of the site-built home. Those controls make for a better house in the long run.

Coach said...

William, the comparison was between site built homes and modular homes that are built to IRC codes. No site builder I know builds a stick built mobile home. Those are built to HUD code. No comparison.

Charlotte Grace said...

I am the unfortunate owner of a Hive B-line house (see B-line Bemidji Lake House on You will notice that there are no finish interior or exterior photos posted on their website. Why? Because the workmanship was of such poor quality that the final inspector's report provided a scathing review stating that the exterior siding was installed incorrectly causing massive damage and preventing the windows from opening. The tile in 2 bathrooms was installed incorrectly, using 2 different colors of grout and was NEVER sealed resulting in severe water damage. Upwards of 6" of standing water was negligently left in the crawl space, causing late-stage growth of black mold...and the list goes on and on and on - too many problems to post here. Working with these people has been an absolute legal and emotional nightmare. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to see finished photos at We are on a mission to protect consumers from being harmed by internet companies like Hive. We now have a 500K+ serious problem on our hands.