Thursday, September 19, 2019

Building a New Home for Empty Nesters

Most members of the Boomer Generation, born between 1946 and 1964, when having you help them design their new home fail to think about their needs in the years after the house is completed.

For most Boomers, physically, things just don’t work as well today as they did just 5 years ago. Who knows what the future will bring. 

One thing for sure is that something unexpected will happen to change their lives but you, as their modular home builder, need to be ready with some small but very important suggestions for their new home.

Your Boomer customer may not beware of some of these suggestions but you will be their Hero when the time comes when they are needed.

Here are six things that Boomers will appreciate as they age in place in their new home:

Open Floorplans
Take another look at the floor plan and have them consider removing walls between the living and dining rooms, kitchen, family room, and/or entry halls which will make their house feel bigger and more comfortable—and makes the space easier to negotiate in old age.

Curb-Free Showers
Visit any high-end resort or flip through a glossy design magazine and you’ll notice that every shower has glass doors that go all the way to the floor, with no lip to step over. Aside from being a sleek and sophisticated look, this eliminates a major tripping hazard.

Multiple Height Counters
When you help them plan their new kitchen, include some counters at standard height (36 inches), some at breakfast bar height (42 inches), and some at table height (30 inches) with knee space for sitting. Having a range of counters will give them more options for prepping or cooking while standing or seated, all without requiring that they bend over.

Wide Doorways
Here is another thing to check on their floor plan. Make sure the doorways are wide. A lot of Boomers are obese and some of the new wheelchairs will not easily fit through even a 36” opening. Also, don’t forget to look for doorways that are hard to get to and open, door swings and hinging and consider 8’ wide sliding Patio doors instead of 6’.  This will makes their home feel more spacious, and will allow for wheelchair access should they ever need it later.

Lever-Style Doorknobs
Just as lever-style faucets have become the norm for kitchens and showers because they’re attractive and easy to operate, lever doorknobs are more ergonomic than standard round versions. They’re easier to grab and manipulate if they’re carrying a load of groceries or laundry—or if they’re aging in place.

High Outlets
When modular factories are left to their own devices, most of their electricians will install new outlets at 12 to 18 inches off the floor. But that requires bending over every time the Boomer needs to plug in the vacuum. Ask for outlets 24 inches high instead, and you’ll make their house easier to use now and when they get older.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Best GEN Modular Acquires Two Modular Factories in South Dakota

Best GEN Modular, Inc. of Rapid City, SD has acquired the assets of the Superior Building Systems manufacturing plant in Watertown, SD and the Superior Homes manufacturing plant in Madison, SD. Founded in 1958, the Watertown factory manufactures hotels, apartment complexes, and other commercial structures inside the 128,000 square foot facility.

They have manufactured for several different brands, including Marriott, IHG (Holiday Inn), Choice, and others. The modular units are built and finished inside the factory; including the furniture, appliances; even down to the artwork on the walls. The units are then shrink- wrapped and shipped to their final location where they’re craned into location and stacked like blocks for a completed building. 50+ modules would make up a typical 100-room hotel.

The Madison factory manufactures custom, ready-built residential homes, from 1200 to 3000 square feet per floor. The fully finished and completed homes are shipped to the homeowner’s building site by a house-moving company where the home is placed onto the foundation, decks are installed, and utilities are hooked up.

The manufacturing processes utilized in both plants, allows for a much faster construction time for hotels, apartment complexes and homes. This shortened construction time allows owners and developers to receive revenue quicker and shorten their construction loan time.

Best GEN Modular, Inc. was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Rapid City, SD. Company CEO, Branden Bestgen, said they will expand their manufacturing footprint by bringing the residential, ready-built business model to the Rapid City and Black Hills area. He said they will also utilize their Rapid City factory, at 1600 Sedivy Lane, to manufacture hotels and apartment complexes. “This is an exciting day for Best GEN Modular! The craftsmanship of the Superior staff is truly amazing and adding that caliber of people to our organization was an easy decision.” According to Bestgen, “I knew I wanted to buy their plant the moment I walked into their factory and saw the products they were manufacturing. This acquisition helps us expand our vision of being the Best GENeration in modular.”

Best GEN Modular, Inc has hired nearly all, of the approximately 70 employees who were previously employed by Superior. The commercial division in Watertown will be re-branded as Best GEN Modular. The residential division in Madison will keep the Superior Homes name operating under Builder Homes, a division of Best GEN Modular.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Delaware Labor Shortage Spurs Project to Go Modular

With its new $150-million research facility under construction and heading for a year-end completion target, global chemical company Chemours aims to consolidate its existing laboratories and offices into the 312,000-sq-ft facility on the University of Delaware’s Science Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus in Newark, Del.

The project was challenging from its conception, and the mission became even more daunting when the company decided to fast-track the work. Given the size and complexity of the building systems and the constraints posed by a tight construction labor force in the area, contractor IMC Construction Inc. worked early with Chemours and the architect, L2 Partridge, to pursue a modular and preassembly strategy that aimed to save time, preserve budget and meet its labor needs.

The module bid packages were awarded to H.T. Lyons, a subsidiary of ENGIE North America, which constructed the modules at its shop near Allentown, Pa. As part of its contract, H.T. Lyons provided all of the trades necessary to complete the racks and offered design-assist services to help detail the modules. When completed, the modules were shipped to the site for installation. They were shrink-wrapped, allowing crews to install them with the protective wrap on until the building was closed in and fireproofing was sprayed.

CLICK HERE to read the entire ENRMidAtlantic article

NY Manufactured Home Dealer Scams Customers for $1M

Moreau, NY woman mulling plea deal in home sale scam case

The Moreau business owner accused of stealing more than $1 million from customers who wanted to buy homes from her company declined to accept a plea deal Monday in Saratoga County Court.

Sherrie A. Burton instead asked for more time to consider the offer and talk about it with a relative who is a lawyer, so her case was postponed until Sept. 23.

The plea deal offer could result in Burton serving as little as 6 months in jail or up to 9 years in state prison, depending in part on how much restitution she can make.

Burton, 65, faces nine felony charges for allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from customers who sought to buy modular homes through her company, Valued Manufactured Housing, also known as Valued Homes. Some customers lost more than $100,000 apiece.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Post Star article

We're All Guilty of This!

Building a Modular Luxury Yacht

In Sweden where almost all the housing is modular and home to Volvo, one of the most highly engineered cars in the world, you will also find that when a luxury yacht is built in one of their shipyards they turn to modular construction.

Just like a modular home factory's production line where each module goes from one station to the next until completed, the Swedes employ the same thing only each stage of the production line could be miles apart.

Enjoy this video of a luxury yacht being built using the modular production line method. 

What Keeps Modular Home Builders Up?

There seems to be three types of modular factories serving the typical modular home builder. One is the factory that is dedicated to building single family homes and small multifamily projects. The second is the commercial modular factory that specializes in hotels, dormitories and other projects requiring 100 or more modules.

The third is the hybrid. It produces single family homes and huge projects. Today this type is becoming the rule rather than the exception. They started their journey to becoming hybrids after the last housing recession.

During that time we lost a lot of modular factories, especially on the East Coast. When things finally began rebounding, the surviving factories had found they needed both the single family home builder and the developer.

Also during the time since the housing recession, the number of small home builders, both modular and site builders, saw their ranks diminish drastically.

Today those builders that use modular construction are seeing fewer modular factories to choose from as well as a trades shortage for all things that need finished after the modules are delivered to the customer’s jobsite.

But what really keeps modular home builders up at night can be quite lengthy. Here are some of the major problem areas shared by all builders.

Longer build times:
The market for new single family housing is good right now, but we are long into this current cycle and statistically due for a change.

Usually, a modular home can be built from the ground up in less than 6 months but it can easily take longer. There are a lot of potential surprises in a new construction project. And new construction requires much more contact with the government bureaucracy, which is cumbersome, confusing and often aggravating.

Longer build times means more money out of your pocket. It also means longer periods between draws and how often does the final draw go smoothly?

If you are making 5% or less net after taxes on your jobs, you are flirting with bankruptcy.

Construction costs are going up and quality is going down:
Demand for modular homes is growing. Rising material costs and a shallow labor pool at the factories is now showing up as quality problems. Still not nearly as many as our site built siblings have but more than we’ve seen in a while.

Most modular home builders are not speculators or developers. This is a good thing as rising material prices and carrying costs are passed onto the customer.

But what about those quality problems? Builders have been caught in the middle of who is responsible for quality issues at the house. Is it the factory’s responsibility, the subcontractor’s that was hired by the builder and in some cases, was the damage caused by the customer.

Builders know that in the majority of cases, they are the ones that usually pay for repairs and damage. If problems are not found until after the modules are delivered and set, it could lead to months of trying to figure out who did what and when and if the builder will be compensated or have to pay out of his pocket.

Another sleepless night.

Government bureaucracy:
Dealing with the building departments is never fun. Rarely has a builder had positive experience with one, but it is even worse when the market gets hot.

One major advantage of site building is their homes don’t have to go to a state agency prior to beginning the project to get a papal stamp of approval. In most states, modular factories can’t put a home on the production line without that stamp.

Many local building departments don’t see that many modular homes being built in their jurisdiction and don’t know what to make of the humongous pile of stamped documents hitting their desk when a building permit application comes in for a modular home. In some states, mostly in the Mid-Atlantic region, the modular home builder’s stack of paperwork is twice as much as the site builder and so complicated that many local code and building people just don’t know they are looking at or what they are allowed to inspect once the modular house is set.

I’m not the smartest guy when it comes to building codes, but I’m fairly educated and have good reading comprehension skills, and I couldn’t tell you what many of those ordinances mean. I don’t the county employee that has to enforce them could either.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Video Shows Why New Home Builders Choose Modular

When I was a GC I built a lot of 2 story homes just like this one. They usually took my crew and subcontractors 6 months to go from excavation to completion.

Barring unforeseen difficulties, such as rain or snow or one subcontractor not being done in time for the next one to begin, each house was adventure in hand wringing and explaining to the customer why nobody was at their job for 3 days.

That was 30 years ago. If I were building houses today, I would convert to using modular construction.

This video, provided by Express Modular, shows why today’s new home builder should stop worrying whether each subcontractor will show up by eliminating the need to find local electricians, plumbers, drywall crews and framers. Instead, going modular allows all those trades to do their work at the factory instead of at your job site.

Modular factories building single family homes are the foundation of the modular construction industry and prove every single day why builders can’t do better than converting to modular.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Working with an Irate New Home Buyer

Being a new home builder has its rewards. Taking the customer’s raw land and adding a new home where grass used to be gives most of us a real rush.

But what happens when you encounter resistance by your customer during the building process. That can quickly turn a good experience into a living hell for you until you hand them the keys and even then it may not be the last you hear from them.

Very few new home buyers have their house built without some kind of problem with you or your company. We’ve all heard these lines:

“You promised me……….” “You never told me………..” “That should have been included in the price” “My Dad (Grandfather, friend, neighbor, second cousin) said that you should……” “I checked Google and YouTube and you're doing it wrong” “Just when are you going to fix…….” “I called my lawyer and they said you have to ……………..” “What do you mean I can’t move into my own house?”

And these are just a couple of the more frequent ones you hear from your customers. If not handled properly it can mean a lot of pain for you later.

So what can you do about it? How can you break through and dissolve the resistance that is building up between you and your home buyer?

You want to get your point across, but don’t want to fuel the fire. Even if you know what to do, in a heated moment you must know what you are up against. You must think strategically if you want to get ahead and make the best out of your particular situation. A big part of that process is to stop, think and do the unexpected.

Here are seven easy and effective tips that may turn around any situation with a difficult person:

1. Stop, Look and Listen. You would be surprised what this simple action will do. One common reason people put up resistance is because they do not feel heard or understood. Stop, Look and Listening to them to make them feel significant is the fastest way to move forward.

2. Walk in their shoes. Just imagine you are in their shoes for one moment. What do they want? If you were in their situation, what would it feel like? Just this one tip will get you far because most people are seeing one point of view: theirs. Great problem-solvers can change perspective.

3. Resistance is Futile. What you resist, persists. People tend to resist you more when you resist them. Spend a little extra time getting to know their point of view and ask them questions to understand their point of view (and nod your head, yes, as if you understand).

4. Body Language. We communicate not only through words but with our body language. When you tilt your head slightly, people feel heard. Also, this one trick will get you to actually listen more intently.

5. Who Has the Final Say. Find out who influences the difficult person and see if they can help you relate. Think outside the box and know you have many routes that lead to where you want to go.

6. Change the Subject. Sometimes you can change the subject and agree on something totally different than the matter at hand in order to create a bond with the person. Even a negative bond might do the trick, but be careful not to create a habit of negative bonding.

7. Stop Trying So Hard to be Right. Don’t feed negativity. Big responses and long email replies can escalate a difficult situation. Don’t call out the person’s behavior with a grand reply but instead calmly listen with care. The person won’t feel defensive but will feel understood.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.

Friday, September 13, 2019

10 Absolutely Free Ways to Promote Your Business

It doesn’t matter if you only build a couple of new  homes a year or 100, you have to get the word out about the great homes you build. Throwing a lot of money at marketing could be one way but if you only get a few leads and contracts, then it is money that could have been best used for something else, like taking your family to Disney World.

What you need in addition to your usual promotions and advertising are some free or inexpensive ways to attract new home buyers to your website and then a meeting where you can discuss their wants and needs in their new home. 

You not only have to build homes, you have to be your own best marketer. There is no Marketing Fairy.

Hopefully there will a few new ideas here that will help make things happen for your business.

  1. Take great photos of completed houses – this has been the most successful free advertising that you can do. Don’t just grab your phone and snap a couple of shots. Take your time. Walk room to room and take a ton of photos, especially the front elevation, finished kitchens, baths, entry ways and family/living rooms.
  2. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. If you are not sure how to do it, hire a young person to do it. The rewards will be huge.
  3. Write your own blog, create meaningful content. To get people to read your blog and want to keep coming back to your website over and over until they are ready to meet with you is the real purpose of the blog. Publish at least one article a week.
  4. Comment on other blogs, many blogs will link your name back to your website. When you comment make sure you enter your website in the field that asks for it. Modcoach will allow you to link back if your list your website in the comment signature area.
  5. Hand out business cards, take them with you everywhere. Be almost obnoxious. It only takes one new home from your card distribution to pay for a lifetime of business cards.
  6. Participate in a Home and Garden shows as well as Builder Shows and make sure to hand out business cards. February and March is the time for these. Make your booth count. Home Shows - Do's and Don't
  7. Use Google Analytics to analyze existing traffic so you can reach your target audience and keep them on your website.
  8. Provide awesome service and communication to your existing customers, they’ll tell their friends.
  9. Find free places to advertise in your local community – put your business cards up in coffee shops, at your salon, gym, or places your customers might frequent.
  10. Post videos on YouTube.