Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Modern Modular: Builders Redefine What 'Modular Home' Means

From an article in Professional Builder magazine:

Anyone who still harbors preconceived notions about modular housing should see what’s going on in the factory and the field

Susan Bady, Senior Contributing Editor

In the last decade, modular-housing design and production have been greatly refined, erasing  previous limitations. The single-family modular homes built today rival stick-built in architectural excellence and construction quality. Yet the misconceptions persist: They’re the same as trailers... They’re cheap and low-quality... They’re boxes with no design flair.

Irontown Homes fabricated the modules for this 3,600-square-foot home in Park City, Utah. The exterior is a mix of materials including stone and board-and-batten, vertical stained cedar. Photo:Spotlight Home Tours
The fact is, architects are teaming up with manufacturers to produce more modular-friendly designs, says Kam Valgard­son, general manager of Irontown Homes, a manufacturer based in Spanish Fork, Utah. “If you have an understanding of the parameters of modular design, you can design inside of them to unlock many hidden benefits in cost and time,” he says. “Modular homes don’t need to look like Lego bricks stuck together. The modules can be built in any shape or size and can be integrated with components or site-built elements that meet your architectural goals.

Gone are the days of modular homes appealing to a single-strata customer group who just want a solidly built, utilitarian-style product, says Mike Zangardi, director of marketing for Ritz-Craft Corp., in Mifflinburg, Pa.

“We’ve moved far beyond the ‘Monopoly board’–style buildings that became synonymous with our industry’s perceived identity,” Zangardi says. “Because of our associations with a strong network of highly skilled builder-distributors, we can jointly achieve any style of architecture with a clearly defined scope of work for each orchestrated project. We combine the best of the factory’s efficiencies with local and regionally correct style and craftsmanship.”
The popularity of modern architecture has been a boon for modular companies such as Irontown, partly because simply designed homes with flat or low-pitch roofs build and ship very well. “Plus, improved shipping, crane, and setting techniques drastically reduce stress on the modules as they travel between the factory and the site,” Valgardson says.
To dispel the perception that modular homes are cheap and low-quality, he notes that Irontown Homes produced the modules for a 4,500-square-foot custom home that sold for more than $6 million and is rated LEED Platinum.

READ the entire Professional Builder article

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