an owner’s perspective of modular homes

This March, we will have lived in our house for three years. I feel like I’ve gotten to know her good enough now to write a post like this. We typically have ALOT of questions about our house because it’s modular, so I’m going to devote some time talking about the pros and cons of modular homes based on OUR FAMILY’S observation/opinions.

Let me start by saying this. Building a house (whether it’s modular or ‘on-site built’) is exhausting. The whole process was really fun, but exhausting. Note the photo below, where you’ll see one grinning idiot and another exhausted man. This was after we poured the basement walls ourselves in 548 degree weather.

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When we started looking to build, we did quite a bit of research on what type of house that we wanted, and how we wanted to build it. In the end, we decided to do a modular home. It was the best option for our family for a couple of reasons. It was quicker for us, (somewhat) easier for us, and ultimately cheaper for us for the style of house that we wanted.

I’m certainly no expert on modular homes, but when you compare price, length of build, and ease of build, I would say that it very much depends on the style of house that you choose. Basically, to determine which is the better, more efficient route to build a house (modular vs. on-site built), I think it should totally be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Just because we found it cheaper to build it this way, doesn’t mean that it would be cheaper for someone else. Does that make sense?

So if you’re unfamiliar with modular homes, basically what we did was take a house plan that we liked to a modular home builder. We did research for about a year on different builders and companies, as well as looking at tons of house plans. Once we chose our builder, we gave him the plan we liked (it was one we drew on a piece of notebook paper),  and then he modified it to make it ‘modular’.

The process of getting the final plans drawn took about 2 months. We had to do some revisions based on the specifications we had. I would consider this to be one CON of modular homes. Due to freight limits and marriage wall considerations (I’ll explain that later), there are some restrictions on modular homes. A modular home is stick-built in a factory (ours was built in Pennsylvania), and then it must travel by interstate on a semi, to your land. So, obviously, there are some limitations on the size of a house traveling down the highway.

Once we had the plans complete, we picked out everything we wanted for the house through the manufacturer. At this step, it’s completely up to you. You could get your house delivered to you with practically everything to complete it, or you could get it with 60% more work to do. I would probably list this as another CON to the process, though it’s not as much a CON as it is an area to be very careful. Usually, when they** give you a base price for the house, they are giving you a price with basic features (basic cabinetry, basic flooring, etc.) So if you want the nicer features, you have to pay more. If you want to do some features yourself (which is what we did), they will ‘credit’ you the cost of the feature. So, for example, say they factored in the price of flooring into our home and we decided to do our own flooring (which we did). The builder may have factored only $1,000 for very BASIC flooring into the price of the home, therefore, they’ll give us a $1,000 credit on the house. In the end, we ended up spending more that $1,000 on flooring. So you have to be careful in these situations, as the cost can quickly add up.

For our house, we ended up doing our own downstairs flooring, tiling in our shower, bathroom vanities, countertops, painting, and all lighting fixtures. We did these things on our own because I wanted to avoid a ‘cookie-cutter’ home as much as I could. I would say this is another CON of a modular home. For things such as cabinetry and lighting, you do have several choices, but, I feel like they were fairly ‘typical’. I didn’t feel like you had much of a choice to make your home look really unique. Before we built, we toured 4 model homes at various builders. Even though those homes all had upgraded features, to me, they all looked alike. I guess I was disappointed in the customization offered in modular homes. You can definitely customize it, but you’ll need to do some things on your own if you are looking to avoid a ‘cookie-cutter’ home.

After we ordered our house, it took about 3 weeks to build in the factory. That’s CRAZY. It was actually probably less than 3 weeks to build. I would list this as a PRO. The building process is very efficient. Once built, it travels to your house via the interstate. Ours traveled as two ‘boxes’ from Pennsylvania to our home (about an 8 hour trip).  I would list this aspect as a PRO for modular homes. In order for your house to travel down the interstate at 70 mph, it has to be strong and sturdy! I definitely feel like our home is built well. The 2x4s and 2x6s used to build our house were nailed and glued together, making for a stronger build.

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I’ll share more details about the setup, and my final observations about the PROS and CONS in my next post.

Have a blessed Monday:)

**When I am referring to ‘they’ in my post, I am referring to our builder. Keep in mind that options, pricing, setup, features, availability, customization, etc., vary from builder to builder. This is OUR experience with our builder and isn’t meant to be a generalization of all modular home builders.