modular v site built recomendations please!!

mikesgirl1990September 5, 2006

Hi, I'm a newbie to your forum have read a lot of past posts that are so informative!! I would love to get some advice from some of you all with experience!! We are considering building or modular home. We have a young family, which as you know is so all consuming so we are looking for the option that has least headaches/time attached to it. And budget is a big consideration also. So in a nutshell we are loooking at the option wich is best for our budget and heavy personal obligations. We are not prepared to do a manufatured/trailer home--hate that depreciation. We are reasonably handy and have some very talented friends who would lend us a day or two of their time. I know that is a tall order--have looked atlots of house plans, several kit built homes, panelized, modular etc--we're dizzy !! Can anyone give us an opinion who has been through one or the other -site built or modular or even better if you've been through both!! sorry this is so long winded-thanks in advance


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We have done both.

Building a site built home takes months. And if the weather doesn't cooperate, you lose time. And if a sub hasn't finished his last job... you wait. We started construction in August and the home was finished in late March.

Our current home is modular. We ordered it in September and was in it by Novemner 1st.

Costs. The cost was about the same as a site built home. The land costs the same, the well and septic costs the same, the lot clearing costs the same, the cellar costs the same, etc.

But when you look at modulars, make sure you have a dealer that will act as the general contractor. Just like a site builder. Let them do the legwork.

Also research the manufacturer. Make sure the outer walls are 2x6 and 16" on center. I know a major modular dealer in NE PA that has homes with 2x4s and 24" on center.

Also be sure you tour a home made by the manufacturer. And if you possibly can, tour the factory. Dealers will gladly arrange this. Some even will conduct the tour themselves. Ask to see homes already set by that dealer. Drive past them and look at the home.

The biggest advantage modulars have over site built homes is time. That's about it. No, they are NOT a great deal less expensive. But if you already have a lot, you could be in your new home by Thanksgiving if you go modular, maybe by Easter if you site build. And we don't have a nasty winter.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 8:23AM
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The modular route is the most hassle free way to go. All costs, decisions and schedules are settled up front. There is usually no construction loan which has to be converted to a conventional loan at end of construction. In most cases you wonÂt even make your first payment until you have moved in. Find a reputable GC who does turnkey modularsÂ..stay away from mobile home lots that sell modular homes and make sure you are getting an "off-frame modular" 2x6 walls are a matter of preference, I actually had the factory change mine to 2x4sÂI do not like the look of wide jambs.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 11:55AM
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I have a modular that I put on a full basement that I built myself and if I had it to do over I would find the time and extra money to have a stick built. None of the floor joists were crowned, all of the windows have failed and the lifetime warranty is no good since the window company is gone. The exterior siding went on to the framing without any plywood or OSB, no wind barrier either. All of the interior doorknobs have faile and had to be replaced.Alot of the interior drywall was poorly nailed and had to be re nailed at extra cost.All in all very poor craftsmanship.
Now this was ten years ago maybe things have changed but I doubt it. My dealer and others I have heard about would not let you hold a retainer for warranty purposes. The M.O. of my dealer was to hold me at bay until my year warranty expired and then I was out in the cold.
Be very careful and make sure everything is in writing and checked by a lawyer.
Good Luck

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 9:40PM
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We have done both and found the Modular way was far superior. We have a one year warranty on the home, have been in it for 10 months and simply don't have a thing to complain about. We expected some settling and there has been none.

We used Design Homes in Prairie DuChen in Wisconsin and I would recommend them every time. The windows, cabinets, flooring, fixtures are all top notch.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 9:33AM
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We are just finishing up a modular and have to say that it was worth it for us despite all the problems we encountered. Our "problems" were not related to the modular units.

Here are a few pictures that may help you visualize the process. (I really have to update the pictures!) We broke ground on May 8th and were in the house on August 4th despite the wettest spring/early summer in over 200 years.

Good luck with your decision.

Here is a link that might be useful: Modular prep & set

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 11:46AM
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I'm a real estate appraiser and Modular homes are built to the same standards as stick built ones. Atleast they are supposed to be. From some of the postings I see you really need to find a good modular builder and make sure the quality is up to your standards.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 12:31AM
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Hey, country living you have a beautiful home. IsnÂt it fascinating to watch one being setÂ..I wish I had taken more picÂs when they set mine. Building a conventional site built home is most always a hassle and a crap shoot. At least with modulars you can observe the quality before you buy. There are varying levels of modular homes, from economy to luxurious but when you compare them to similar site built construction the modular will be the better buy.
Americans need to give up the silly romantic notion that site built is better. Automobiles used to be "site" built and they were terrible and expensive.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 9:39AM
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We have a modular two-story, about 2500 SF. The best benefits are that the materials did not get wet during construction. The house is delivered, set, (in my case) roof completed, and the house locked, all in one day. I viewed two of the houses being set, same manufacturer and same dealer/contractor before I made my purchase decision. Nothing worked out as well as I had hoped, but most things came close. I had lots of awed spectators during my set and most said that they are now convinced that modular is the best way to build most houses. The modular concept is great, the execution of the concept still has flaws. Choose a good manufacturer and a good dealer.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 9:17AM
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One BIG thing to remember: Your contract is with that contractor/dealer, not with the manufacturer. The manufacturer will have language on the plans and other documents which clearly states that you, the homeowner, are not their customer and the manufacturer has no obligation to you directly. Their customer is the contractor/dealer. Resolution of ANY problem will ultimately be with the dealer. Choose a manufacturer who has few problems, choose a dealer who handles problems well.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2006 at 12:02PM
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Bus driver is right. You are the customer of the contractor/dealer and not the manufacturer. Choose the right one!

We love our modular! It was the right decision for us.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 10:21AM
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I thought I posted this already but maybe I didn't hit the "submit" button. (Or was it another thread?...)

Anyway, when shopping for a builder, whether they're modular or site-built, it helps to have a simple plan and list of features in hand when getting estimates. Even if it's not the precise plan you end up with, if all builders give an estimate based on that plan, you will be comparing apples with apples.

If, as is usually the case, you meet 12 builders that give you a price on 12 different houses, you won't have a true basis of comparison. It's only natural that they will try to sell you on a house that they know they can build efficiently, rather than the house that you want.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 12:12PM
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Ours was a Design Home from Prairie Du Chen in Wisconsin. The builder/contractor is the manufacturer. Maybe that is why they have such a great reputation. You simply are not working with a third party (and paying a commission to one.)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 2:53PM
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In my case the manufacturer is responsible for the house and the GC is responsible for the on site work. The factory has completely satisfied what few problems I had, dormers in wrong place, door adjustment. The GC was a little slower but corrected plumbing, HVAC and drywall issues. The factory has their own team of personnel that are equipped with large box trucks fully setup like a rolling workshop. The thing that impressed me was the factory will replace rather than repair. I had a bedroom door that would not stay closed; they replaced the whole door unit and frame, touched up the drywall and paint and then vacuumed up the mess! How many site built contractors would do this?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 4:12PM
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"...Resolution of ANY problem will ultimately be with the dealer..."

We had some minor problems after we moved in and the MANUFACTURER sent out a rep from PA to VT to make all the adjustments. My warranty is with the manufacturer, not the dealer.
There is, however, a fine line as to who is responsible for what. If the home is buttoned up wrong and the roof leaks at the joint, that's the dealer. If a kitchen cabinet is askew, that's the manufacturer.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 8:07AM
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