Sunday, March 21, 2010


Searching the Internet for modular homes is quite an undertaking.  There are so many possibilities that by the time your done looking for the evening you simply aren’t much more informed than when you started.  So here are just some of the types of homes and where to buy them that you will encounter on the net.

TYPES AND STYLES  Let’s take a look at what is being offered as far as styles.
First you will find manufactured homes or “HUD” homes.  These are built to Housing and Urban Development standards and are often called trailers, single wides and double wides.  Some of them are very attractive and look very similar to site built homes.

6-20 Single wide

Then within these single wide types there are the eco-friendly, Green homes built by some of the leading Architects in the country.  Most feature a flatter pitch roof than a traditional home and are built to the tough IRC for the state they are being shipped.  Many are multi-module units but they still look a lot like double wides.

Marmol Radziner Prefab 2

The next modular type is the “HUDULAR”, a home typically manufactured in the same factories that build HUD single and double wides.  These homes are built to IRC standards but have a metal undercarriage and share a lot of the same materials as their HUD cousins.

Hudular 2

Next on the list are what can best be described as semi-custom modular homes.  Built to exacting IRC building codes, these homes offer a good value for the new home buyer.  But there is a major downside to these homes.  They are designed to allow only pre-designed options to be added, such as modified kitchens, family rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms.  If you are looking to build a home you personally designed, this may not be the best choice.

Semi custom home

Custom modular homes fall into two categories. The first one is the most popular type of modular home in the country.  Take your plans to a factory authorized builder and more than likely you will get a home that can be modularized.  They are built to IRC standards but offer a ton of standard options and allow the homeowner to get some special order items as well.  Here is where Energy Star and Green building methods find their true homes.  Here are an examples of this type.

 Huntington 1

The second type of custom modular home is the “Architect designed” home.  There are a couple of these type of factories throughout the US and you can find their homes in the $200 and up per sq ft range.  Everything about them is pure custom design and I’ve seen as many as 25 modules delivered to the jobsite for one house!

Full Custom
As you can see there are homes to fit anyone’s style and budget. 

WHERE TO BUY A MANUFACTURED AND MODULAR HOMES. Here again the choices are numerous.

Almost all HUD homes (double-wides, etc) are sold through street or lot dealers.  They usually have the homes set with furniture. 


The Eco-friendly, Green Architect designed “single and double” style are usually bought directly through the Architect or company that is building them. Even though you are buying direct and the company is setting and finishing the home, the price tag can quickly approach $150-300 a sq ft.

Zero House Lego design

The HUDULAR and Semi-Custom homes are available through either smaller builders or street lot dealers.  Because these homes don’t demand as much attention to detail as their totally custom cousins, they are the choice of small builders and dealers. 

Modular Home Sales Center

The custom modular and Architect designed modular home builders are usually experienced site builders that have made the switch to modular and are hands on during the ordering, set and finish of y0ur home. They stand behind their work and many will only build a few homes a year because they are detail oriented builders and take full responsibility for your new home.

Buyers shake hands

Lastly there are the “direct to the buyer” web sites.  If you are willing to do most of the hands-on work and be responsible obtaining financing and for setting your new home along with all the finishing and subcontracting, then this is a good option.  The “direct to you” dealer is just that…a dealer.  They help put together the home plans and factory order but after the home is delivered they usually are only available in an advisory capacity.  Getting factories to make repairs to a home that was owner-built can be quite arduous. 

“Direct to You” homes usually end in problems for the construction challenged person or couple.


Andrew from Indiana said...

My wife and I are considering purchasing either a manufactured home (like the Clayton e-home) but also are considering a non-custom modular home.

Can you ballpark how much more per square foot the non-custom modular homes run, low-end to high-end? The lot we have in mind is small and we aren't looking for anything more than 1200 sq. ft.

Also, can you tell us if the Clayton e-home looks like it will hold value? The area we are looking to build has similar stick-built ranch homes and from our amateur point-of-view it would fit right in.

Your blog is a great resource, and I haven't had the chance yet to read all the posts, but really appreciate what you're doing here.

Karen and Michael said...

We didn't realize that there are so choices in modular homes. It really helps to see all the information in one place.


MBSA said...

For more information, visit the Modular Wikipedia page on this topic

The Modular Wikipedia is sponsored by the Modular Building Systems Association (MBSA) and is available on their web site.

Andrew in Indiana said...

So now I realize why I didn't get a reply. I haven't answered my own questions so much as I've come to a realization after looking at several properties in my area. People around here are buying and selling 10, 15, even 20-year old manufactured homes at prices comparable to stick-built, on-site construction, even though local assessed/replacement values don't match the sales prices. I guess people are either suckers or just don't care how their homes are built so long as they can have a place of their own where they want it.