Monday, October 21, 2013

The Real Dirty Secrets about Modular Building in NJ

At the MBSA meeting in Hershey, PA, I had lunch with a factory owner and a builder that has built homes in NJ since Sandy wiped it out.  The conversation brought to light some of the hardships facing modular construction there.

Many factory owners and I’m sure a lot of builders trying to make a living in NJ are unaware of some of the things that are hindering rebuilding the Jersey coast.

Here is the email I sent to a large modular home builder in NJ and his candid reply. I would like to say ENJOY….but it is one of the saddest examples of how people in government and lending are hurting modular housing in the state.

My email and his reply:

Dear Builder, (confidentiality asked)

I just left MBSA’s annual meeting and was shocked about what I heard of modulars in NJ. 

One builder who has about a dozen contracts in NJ and has set and finished about 5 so far has told me some things I had never heard of before. Since you have built modular homes there for years, I have to ask, are these statements true or false?

1. In order to be one of the chosen builders, one must fill out a huge form and have a minimum $1M bond in place to be considered. Then your name is put in the pool and even though you have been working with a particular home buyer, they may be forced to build with someone else. 

Answer: The form is over 70 pages long and is completely ludicrous… the part about the pool and being forced to build with another builder is true.

2. There are only a limited number of floorplans approved for the NJ program and they are all site built plans....none are modular. 

Answer: Yes this is true too.  It is VERY discriminatory in many ways and is not in the best interest of the homeowners but in the best interest of a “SELECT” few.

3. Modular homes are setting on pilings throughout the state after being delivered and no additional work is being done on them because banks are not releasing funds and builders are walking away. 

Answer: I am hearing a lot of this too.  Many homeowners’ funds are being held hostage by the insurance and mortgage companies so they cannot start or complete their work. The banks/insurance companies want a certain amount of work done in order to make payments but the homeowners don’t have the money to pay for the services without the funds being made available to them and the contractors are “expected” to finance the jobs to get to certain percentage of completion points but they don’t have the money to do this so construction is being held up or abandoned in many cases.  I can give you dozens and dozens of names of people living this nightmare. 

4. Even though the Governor and all the housing experts in NJ are realizing that modular is the best way to rebuild, the local code inspectors are prejudiced against or simply uneducated about modular construction. 

Answer: I agree 100% and the permit process from the state and local agencies have made it nearly impossible to obtain permits.  And when you do finally receive them (2-4 moths+ later) the next nightmare beings with the inspection scheduling and trying to complete the jobs.  The “red tape” is unnecessary and is one of the major reasons for the slow rebuilding process in our state. 


This is another reason we all need to work together to not only help modular builders stay in business but also to help fight for homeowners that are caught in a system that promised the moon and delivered nothing but sorrow.


Anonymous said...

Coach, this is why I read your blog every day. Not only do you tell the good stuff about modular but you bring to light dirty secrets like this.

I am a long time modular home builder and I have never seen so much government regulations aimed squarely at hindering modular housing as there is today. NJ is not alone in regulating against modular, my state of MA is another.

Anonymous said...

I have not experience much of this at all. I see no discrimination against Modular homes, nor list of approved builders not forms to fill out etc.