?Extensive Drywall Damage on New Build ?

flrichDecember 23, 2006

I am new to modular homes. I have been researching them since we are looking to build one very soon, or maybe not. One of the local builders, actually one who seems to be one of the best has some great models we like. I have had several homes built in the past back in FL but these were all CBS (Concrete Block Structure)so modular is new for me. I asked about the building process and they gave me an open invite to any of their current builds, one of which is a upscale development under construction with prices between $799K to $1.2M.

Thursday I visited one in the finishing process and I was really impressed! I saw one home being dropped in place but due to the crane and such I decided to stay out of the way and come back. Today I returned and walked through the place since there were no doors installed.

I was SHOCKED, almost each and every wall in the entire home was not only cracked but more like busted in two. Mostly near door frames and window frames. Many if not most were either bowed in or bowed out. The rest of the home looked OK, some of the modules showed some 1/8 to 1/4 gaps since the siding was not installed this was very obvious with the sky clear as day in the attic. I think this MAY be acceptable with sealant and insulation but I am a little worried about that also.

Is this normal with higher end Modular construction? A good drywall guy can fix the cracks and such BUT I think we all know that a cracked fixed today will be a gap a year from now and every other couple of years from here to eternity. I am concerned, I really like the modular idea but considering these people seem to be the best out there I am worried at dropping $300K plus on a headache!

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Although I've never seen a Modular home constructed I'd assume this to be normal. I seriously doubt that the integrity of the walls were compromised. Rather you'd be looking at stress cracks in sheetrock due to the lifting, placement, and fastening of modules. I'm confident that with some Liquid Nails adhesive and long course thread screws these gaps between modules would be tightened up and never reappear.
Note, I have no direct knowledge of modular construction but have a comprehensive knowledge of swimming pool and pool house (standard framed) construction. My experience has always been that a structure which has generated cracks in the sheetrock have been from settling out of level at the base of the structure. I've seen this settling on both monolithic concrete foundations and footers under joisted sub flooring.
As long as your slab stays put I wouldn't expect the cracks to reappear.

See ya,

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 11:44AM
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Our modular isn't a high end one, but has three sections. It was placed on our basement foundation last January. We are completely amazed at the lack of stress joints or hairline cracks. I never experienced anything this great when we had new stick built homes! It had a one year warranty and there isn't anything we have to ask them to come back and repair.

I think because the modulars are constructed in factory conditions, there isn't the freezing/thawing problems that occur with stick built construction. We are impressed!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 4:52PM
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The transport/handling damage reported above is not typical for the 6 modular homes that I observed being set. One of them is mine and I did the finishing myself. Mine is 2600 square feet and the tax assessor valued it at more (over my protests) than my investment as soon as it was finished.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 9:17PM
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Hi. Check your state regulations. Modular homes are not built per the Federal Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards. Read your state administrative codes to find where to seek regulatory help. It's a different ball game with modular homes, even though they come off the same assembly line as manufactured home.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Although paying inflated, based against actual cost, property taxes really bites, this is an AWESOME problem to have.
Your appraisal district puts lots of research into the evaluation of the real worth of your improvement.
Your sure to come out with a great return on your investment on the property when you sell.
Don't feel to bad, my taxes are based on well over double the actual amount I have invested in my property, home, and pool!!! I smile every time I think about what my neighbors who paid boat for their places have invested. As long as the economy stays strong they'll domino too.
Nothing beats sweat equity or smart shopping during construction when the time comes to sell your property.

I disagree. It's my understanding that modular homes must meet the codes set forth for the destination of final placement.

See ya,

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 8:58PM
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alviec is correct, modular homes are not built per the federal guidelines. They are built per the state guidelines for new home construction, which are much stronger standards than the federal guidelines. Combined with the benefits of building in an environmentally controlled facility they are a very solid choice to make. Nice of alviec to point out the superior construction standards of modulars, they are very well built homes.

That said, they do not seem to be cheaper than stick built in my area, and since we do not experience extreme hot/cold cycles in WA state I would not assume them to have superior build quality to standard homes here.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 8:15PM
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We did an upper end modular this year and did not experience cracking. Ours is 6 boxes including the garage and traveled from central PA to upstate NY.

I think a lot has to do with your set crew and your foundation.

Best of luck,


    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 2:37PM
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Thanks reflex. I'm actually not all that bad. I feel more in favor of a modular home because of those code requirements. Enforcement appears to more stringent for a modular home. Very big difference in the two. Had I only known this before I purchased a mobile home, my choice may have been modular.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 7:01PM
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Alviec and Reflex,
Thanks, I've been under the impression that modular home builders and installation crews had to comply with the local codes for where they were being set up as an improvement to real property.
I'd briefly considered placing one on my lake property until I got the costs. The high price is what steered me away from them.
I'm a pool construction contractor by trade and can self construct for significantly less coin than a modular.

See ya,

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 11:33PM
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