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down to 3 modular companies

Posted by jhet (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 9, 07 at 14:02

I am down to three modular manufacturers and need help deciding. The three are Westchester modular,Haven homes and Deluxe Modular of PA. Which one is the better overall manufacturer? Is one just way better than the other? Thanks for the help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: down to 3 modular companies

A few years back (before there was a manufactured home forum at THS) there was a long discussion on the building a home forum about modulars. One woman had done a great deal of research into them and compiled a list of "The good, bad and the ugly". All three of your choices were on the "good" list! While I don't know all that much about her methods, everything I've read seems to comfirm her findings. Just remember that the builder plays a big part in the process, too. Good luck!


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Thanks I guess I have good taste then. I'm leaning toward Haven homes to be honest. Really beautiful homes and lots of plans.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Anyone else have any information to give? I am really looking at the Ardmore Haven homes model.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Thanks Voltog! That was me that posted it and I caught a great deal of heat because I named names publicly. Some folks didn't agree with my list (they had an 'ugly') and reported me for a TOS violation. That was one of the reasons I went to the dark side.

Jhet--Haven Homes is a very good product. Please make sure you check your dealer out completely. We were very close to going with them and found that the local rep here didn't have the best rep out there for following up.

Good luck with your decision.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

"Went to the darkside"...too funny! I haven't been over there in a while. I'll have to check it out again. I, for one, can't thank you enough for that info. I haven't built a house yet, but obviously I kept the the list:)


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

What is the dark side? In 1999 when we were building ours we were on the building a house forum, and lots of manuf names going back and forth. We used Excel..happy with it after 6 yrs!


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Been away from these forums for a while while moving to Maine (Took a job as Engineering Manager for a modular manufacturer here.)

Have you picked a manufacturer yet, jhet? I've worked with all three of those companies over the years in my freelance business and can honestly say I don't think you will have a quality issue with any of them. I've worked with builders in NY, NJ, CT and PA who dealt with each of them and each company offers a good product and will accomodate you with help on custom floor plans. (That was my function.)

Knowing the manufacturers are top-rate, it is important to find a good builder-dealer who can give you a quote that falls within your budget.

Wayne


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

I have not actually picked one yet because the land search is not going too great. I love haven homes the best but I actually saw another one that I like a lot called Custom Building Systems. Any thoughts on both manufacturers? Thanks for the help.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Hi Wayne,

I can think of four manufacturers here in Maine; Oxford, Burlington, Keiser and KBS. I don't suppose you can venture an opinion on their respective quality?


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

"I love haven homes the best but I actually saw another one that I like a lot called Custom Building Systems. Any thoughts on both manufacturers?"

jhet,

A home builder I have worked for in PA has contracted with both Haven and more recently, CBS (Custom Building Systems.) Haven has built some technically very difficult houses that I designed and did a very satisfactory job. The houses that CBS is building for him aren't quite as intricate but they haven't shied away from challenging jobs either.

Haven's quality has always been top-notch. In addition to their high quality, Haven also has a reputation among builders as being a bit pricy. That is not to say Haven isn't a good choice for the retail buyer since pricing structures among the builder-dealers often can absorb some of the price difference. (That for any number of reasons, perhaps less on-site work required for example, ease of setting the modules, transportation factors, etc.)

I haven't seen any homes from CBS yet to be able to comment since they are a new company (though the management, as I understand it, isn't new to the industry.) Also, I've moved even further away from the PA manufacturers when I left the Adirondacks for Maine so getting down to jobsites isn't very feasible anymore. My Pennsylvania client has nothing but good things to say about CBS's product though.

Wayne


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

"I can think of four manufacturers here in Maine; Oxford, Burlington, Keiser and KBS. I don't suppose you can venture an opinion on their respective quality?"

Valtog,

I'm very new to Maine and am only familiar with the company for which I am currently working, one of those that you mention. In the four months that I've been here though, we've hired engineering staff from two of the three other companies you list and I'm interviewing someone who has worked at the other firm on Monday.

The reason I mention this is that of the four companies you mention (there were 5 within a 20 mile or so radius but Waterford homes went belly up last fall,) only one company has managed not only to work at above full capacity all this winter but has managed to land substantial commercial contracts to insure full employment through next winter. This while every other company in the area has had to make severe cutbacks in staff and production (except Waterford which simply went out of business.) The reason I moved to Maine is because last fall, this company's manager showed me their growth statistics, a production schedule packed solid for the entire winter and offered me a challenging job with a growing company. That gave me the confidence that they were doing something right and in this business, that something is almost always measured by customer satisfaction with the product.

So all of this is to say that I am not well-enough versed (yet) with the quality of the other manufacturers' product to pass judgement but I am more than impressed with ours and part of my job is to further improve on it where possible.

I think it probably would not be in good taste for me to tout our company here by mentioning the business name but if you are in the area, and especially if you are heading south from Bethel and just happen to stop in at the first manufacturers' plant you pass, ask for Wayne, the Engineering Supervisor. I'll be happy to say hello and give you the nickel tour. I think you can also contact me by clicking on my name here and sending an email.

It may be a bit late for making plans for this weekend, but the manufacturers and builder-dealers in Oxford County are having their big open-house home shows and tours. If you can't make it here this weekend, come by most any time during the week and (occasionnly on weekends) and I'll be glad to show you around.

Wayne


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Great infor thank you. I had no idea CBS is a new modular builder? I know a company here that lets you buy the CBS house wholesale and then do all the work yourself or hire a project manager. What do you think aboit hiring a project manager to ease the headaches that I would have doing it all myself? I have seen some very nice prices on the CBS houses. They look real nice too so I have a lot to think about. Thanks again for the information.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

You'e welcome jhet.

CBS opened late 2005 in a former Thor American RV plant.

I've read briefly on this forum about the Modular Direct deal. Saving money and being able to afford a home is a good thing. Just keep in mind that being the general contractor or project manager involves a lot of time, work, patience and knowledge. It's not just hiring the plumber electrician and trim guy and watching them show up, finish and leave you standing amidst a complete house. It requires a lot of attention to detail, material selection, logistics and coordination of the various trades. If you schedule the electrician to show up on Monday to finish the on-site work and the plumber hasn't installed the furnace yet, you will have to pay again to have the electrician come back to finish (assuming he's even available.)

Take a good look at warrantees and who will be honoring them. You will be responsible for enforcing warrantees on the work you contract out yourself.

Banks may not be receptive to financing projects in which the homeowner plays a critical part in completing the work. They are loaning money based on the collateral of a completed (and sellable) house.

Not trying to discourage anyone but it's important to know what one is getting into. Constructing a home, even a modular one is a big bite to chew.

Wayne


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Thanks but what about hiring a project manager to basically do the job of completing the home? I wa told it will only add $15,000 to the price of the project. Is that a good way to go?


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Sorry, I misread your last post about hiring the manager.

Hiring a project manager will be a good idea and take the pressure off you. If you know of any couples who have acted as their own contractor, they might tell you that $15,000 is a very small price to pay to reduce the stress level on the family.

But like hiring a contractor, hiring a project manager needs to be done carefully and his or her duties and responsibilities need to cafefully described. Get references of some owners who have hired the individual's services. Remember that even though you have a contract with the project manager, you will still be responsible for the ultimate completion of the project in the eyes of the institution financing the project. So whoever you hire needs to keep the project on schedule to keep the bank advances coming on schedule.

Best of luck!

Wayne


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Wayne - Do you have any suggestions on how to hire an architect for a modular build? We are looking for a large (2600+) one story, passive solar home. We can't find any in the plan books, and are not talented enough to design our own, so we would like to work with an architect.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

dekeoboe,

I often work with architects on modular projects. Your architect should first be well-versed in solar design. That the construction will be by modular methods should be the lesser concern. Some architects balk at the modular concept but I've worked with many over the years and managed to remain faithful to their designs in preparing the production drawings for the factory.

You should also find a manufacturer with a proven record of flexibility in design accomodation. Most companies with an interest in expanding their future will be open to new techniques rather than only off-the-shelf ideas but not all are. In my freelance design work I had a builder with plans for a 6,000 square foot, architect-designed home that I converted to modular design. The engineering manager of the PA. manufacturer that was to build it basically killed that deal simply by refusing to order a roof truss that differed in pitch from their usual parts despite the fact that it was not out of the ordinary but was critical to the design. Most manufacturers are not usually as obstinate as that particular one.

There are a few design limitations that the architect should be aware of ahead of time so as to use them as guidelines in designing the home. The primary one is module width and height, critical to shipping. Knowing the typical wall design and gap where the modules meet would be helpful to know, as would maximum spans in bearing walls, though with a one-story home it is less critical. The ceiling/floor assembly design in a two story is important to know for laying out stairs, but that also isn't relevant in your case. If you have a manufacturer in mind, they should be able to provide the few critical design considerations to help make the architect's design process more in tune with the final product.

Wayne


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Thanks Wayne


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Hi Wayne and welcome to Maine, BTW!

If I head south on 26, I hit West Paris. If this is the place, it's actually the manufacturer that I am the least familiar with. I don't know anyone who owns one and I haven't heard anything by word of mouth, which can be a good source of info. After reading what you have written, I'd be much more inclined to do more investigation. We aren't certain we even want to build, but are having a difficult time finding what we want in an existing home. But we are fairly certain that if we do build, it will be modular. I also wanted to thank you for taking the time to help us here. Val


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Wayne,

You left the Adirondacks??? You left heaven on earth? Wow! I remember discussing the Adirondack's with you a few years ago. It really is one of the most beautiful places to live.

I hope you enjoy Maine. We'll miss you here in NY.

Country_Living in the Capital District.


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RE: down to 3 modular companies

Val, yep, that's my new stomping ground, just a bit south of West Paris. This company has been around for about 4 years I believe. A lot of the homes we produce get shipped out towards the coast of Maine and down to Massachusetts or west to NH & Vermont. Please do check us out, as well as the other companies in the area. I'm biased of course but you should shop around. Again, feel free to stop by for an informal tour.

Country_Living,

No one is more surprised than me to give up living in the High Peaks of NY. But I'm not going to work forever and if this job gets to be too routine, I'll head back to the Adirondacks. But the hills of this area are very nice too and I can see the White Mountains from here. The people here have been great and I'm looking for a place to garden and raise more chickens.

When I ran the CAD department at Chelsea Homes I never thought I'd leave the Hudson Valley to move to the Adirondacks, but that was a great move. I'm hoping this one is too.

I still have an apartment in Saranac Lake and get back to NY once in a while. My daughters and new grandson live in the Albany area so I'm down there occasionally too.

Wayne


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