Downsizing decisions - Modular or Stick Built?

pamghattenJune 20, 2014

Hi All,

I currently don't have a small home, I currently have a 2500 sq ft. home on 20 acres with a barn and a couple other out buildings. I live in this large (to me) home with my 2 dogs and 3 cats. And it's draining me physically and financially.

I turned 55 this year and had an epiphany ... and decided I needed to simplify life. To add to the madness, besides working full time as a banker, I have a daylily nursery that I run out of my farm, and a greenhouse that is taken care of by a local Hosta group.

So this summer, I am selling off the daylilies and have told the Hosta group to find a new home for their greenhouse before fall. My plan is to list the farm next spring and move to a smaller footprint.

I'd like a 1400-1500 sq ft ranch, no cathedral ceilings (which i have now) on 3 to 5 acres. The acreage depends on how many I need to take my three miniature donkeys with me. Two of them have been with me since they were born and the third has been here for a long time. I don't trust people to take care of them the way I think they need to be taken care of, so they need to go with me.

I've been watching the real estate market since the beginning of the year, and haven't seen any property that would even begin to meet my needs. So I think I have to build something new.

Has anyone built a modular home? Or a panelized home? Both these types of homes have their pieces built in a factory in a controlled environment, not in the rain and elements.

Then I have to figure out how to sell the farm, build a new one at the same time using the equity I have on this one, and then move a farm! LOL!

It's going to be a crazy year, next year!!!

Would love to hear what any of you have done ...


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6 years ago we sold our manufactured home on 8 acres and rented back for 2 months Being it was a VA Loan it was all we were allowed to rent back from our buyers.

So we had our manufactured home all picked out and waiting in line to be built as soon as the place we sold closed. We also owned the piece of property we were moving to. I know this is not the same as modular but similar.

We made the move and actually I was able to be out of our sold house three days early making the new buyers thrilled. It was a ruff go. We also had a shop building put up in that time We did not get the doors on it until after we were moved into it but we live in a pretty safe area with good neighbors watching over things while we were not there.

This move was a slight up size for us, We did the big down size on the last house from 1850 to 1250 ish. now we are about 1375 and it is fine. I would prefer a larger sewing/guest room/office but it is what it is and it works well.

We do not have the large animals any more but we have made those kind of moves too.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Thanks shades ... I didn't think about the possibility of a "rent back". That's something I'll have to consider!!

That would certainly make things easier. And I want a 3 bedroom, so I can make one of the other bedrooms a sewing/craft room!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 6:13PM
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Depends on your time frame. If you have time to build, your house will hold its value better. If you are looking for a 3 bedroom down-sized house, I love mine and it can be found on this site under "Phoggie's" house...or something like that. Good luck in your decision~~

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 11:10AM
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Our home is two bedrooms and a den. The den is the sewing craft office guest room. I had them leave out the closet making it an unofficial bedroom. Saves on Taxes too, I did not consider that when I had them leave off the closet. I just wanted the space in the room for furniture and did not need the closet. It could be added as the room is 13 foot long.

The second bedroom I had extended to make my studio larger. LOL It is a nice size at 12'8" by 13' I had them leave the door wall off the closet to give me better storage space up into the vault. Again this could easily be added. My husband told me to make the craft/studio room large enough to contain it all. Except the sewing. Glass and fabric are not friendly.

This is when we were starting to move in. It shows how I had them leave the closet open. I put shelves up to the ceiling on top of the closet shelf and added those plastic bins as drawers where needed.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 2:11PM
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We've lived in our 1500 sf Timberland modular home for 20 years.
We had to do the land clearing and foundation, then they craned the sections into place. If we decided to build again, we'd happily do another modular.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 10:29PM
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Modular construction is fast, which would help in your case. A quality modular home would be a little better than site-built, because it is built indoors in a climate-controlled environment, rather than out in the weather. The cost comes out about the same for the same trim level.

All that being said, there is still some perceived connection between modular homes and manufactured (mobile) homes. While this is completely erroneous, it could affect resale value.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 6:53AM
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There is still a stigma about modular homes. The key thing for resale is to find out if the method of construction must be disclosed when you put the house up for sale. This will vary by state, so you need to check the regulations in your state.

A good friend of mine just moved into his second modular home. He sold the first one with no problem. He likes that the construction is with 2x6s instead of 2x4s, and that the interior of the house is not exposed to the elements during construction.

I've been in both houses and would not have known they were modular unless someone pointed that out.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 2:58PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Friend has a modular home and there's no way you would know unless you were told. It's a nice, large home.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 7:16AM
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Not going to argue resale value on modular verses manufactured verses stick built. I will just say we have owned four manufactured homes this one being the fourth. We have sold three of them at a very good profit. even in down turned economy. Never had any trouble selling them. I do believe it comes down to the quality of the manufactured home and modular home. Cheep finishes are just that cheep. We always went top of the line.

For us now resale makes no difference because our house is in trust to an animal rescue. I am sure it is valued now more than we paid for it and the land and improvements. I think there is some what of a false stigma on manufactured homes because of what they used to be. Every one knows some one that owned what we called a tin can back in the 70's. I agree they were total crap. I think this is what has left it's mark on the manufactured homes of today.

The base price on this house was some thing like 39K that is total crap. This house cost almost 90K by the time we did the upgrades and this did not include the foundation, land, and land improvements, shop building landscaping water and electric. I would love a stick built house but to get a good builder to put up a house in 60 days here is impossible. There are only a couple of builders. Joe wanted to build a shop house but was concerned some thing might happen to him and he would not get it done in time. He was almost 70 when we did this place.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 11:45PM
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Thanks all, had a Realtor here over the weekend to give me an idea of value foe selling next year, and I have some decent equity.

I will look at Modular homes, they are common around here. Sorry but I won't consider a Manufactured home since they have re-sale problems around here.

My new realtor told me he would board my donkeys for me when I sell and build ... since I'll probably need to find temporary housing. That has taken a weight off my shoulders!

shades, I like what you did in your sewing room!

phoggie, I'll search for your home next.

I've been looking at house plans, stick & modular, and I don't like what I see. In the 18 years I've been in this house, I've added 1200 sq feet and re-modeled the kitchen and both bathrooms. So I've almost built an entire house! So I know what I like, and what I don't like ... now to match that with what I can afford! LOL!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 6:55PM
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The donkeys are so cute! I can see why you are so attached to them. Good luck with your plans. I have a friend who has a modular cape cod. Looks just like stick built.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:51PM
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We also went from the same sized house as you have to a Manufactured home, which was in a nice park owned by Morgan Management. We loved our home. It had three bedrooms and two baths. We had upgrades done to it upon ordering it and the home was placed in a Manufactured Home Park. The Park put in the driveway and landscaping. You can also order a garage with your unit or a car port. We never wanted to leave it but had to move out of state to be near our grand kids - and we could not find a nice Mfg. Home Park where we could once again order a home for a lot. We ended up with a smaller ranch house and it works out good for us but having a new Manufactured home with dry walls (not paneling), new roofing, new flooring, and everything else new, was so nice but was not available to us in our current state. If we had a choice when moving here it would have been a Manufactured Home (Ritzcraft), but it did not work out this way for us.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:07PM
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4-5 years ago I also had the epiphany of making my life simpler. It is a process. A long and sometimes painful process, but I can assure you, worth the effort. Things will get crazier before they get simpler. Keep your eye on the end-goal. Start to downsize NOW, and think WAY into the future, like wider doors & hallways and wheelchair/walker access to kitchen, bathroom, onto shower. Access from garage into house, etc.
It is something none of us wants to think about, but planning ahead can have you there, comfortable, longer.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 11:37AM
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I'm back again. I've had a very productive summer! I have cleaned out and cleared out so much stuff! I also sold or donated the daylilies I had from a small daylily nursery I've been running for the past 15 years, in addition to working full time. I decided that was the first thing to go!

I cleaned out the basement and the barn, threw tons of stuff away. Had a barn/garage sale and sold a bunch of stuff, then donated lots of remaining things.

I spoke to a couple of Realtors about some land in my area, but nothing yet that will suit my needs. A friend I haven't seen in awhile came and bought some daylilies from me and said he had some land that he would be willing to sell some of. His land is in a different town, but we're going to walk it together soon and see what it looks like.

So I'm slowly making life simpler! Now that I've done all this work this summer, I think I might just stay put next summer and enjoy my farm without the extra work of a daylily nursery. Unless of course, that perfect property comes on the market. I keep looking, but haven't even seen anything I would bother looking at yet.

We'll see how it goes.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2014 at 6:50PM
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