The Top 10 Reasons Why Modular Homes Are Better Than Site-Built Homes

I find myself constantly having to explain to prospective customers why modular homes are superior to site-built (or “stick-built”) homes, so I’ve compiled a “Top 10” reasons, Letterman style, for you:

10. It’s the state-of-the-art in home building
For centuries (literally), human beings have built their shelters the old-fashioned way, one board (stud) at a time. In the past two decades, the modular industry has taken giant leaps forward in both focus and capability to the point where virtually every modular plant is able to produce modules for Custom homes. Whereas many traditional production builders are still stuck with their old-world ways of individually framing the same structure by hand, over and over again on different lots, the modular industry has left their former one-design-fits-all approach and created the means to take any design and build it in pieces in a factory, to be assembled into a custom home in the field. The former Achilles heel of the modular industry-the inability to customize their product offerings-is gone, and they are cranking out solid, custom homes by the dozens. In an age where we’re all used to Googling a product, paying for it on the web, and receiving it in a few days, it’s fitting that the modular industry can finally provide the speed and quality we all expect.

9. You wouldn’t want your car built in your driveway, why build your house that way?
Check out a stick-built job site. Better yet, check it out in the rain. See how much mud is caked onto the sub-floor of the home, how wet the lumber gets, and notice the extremes in temperatures and weather conditions workers have to contend with while building in that manner. Modular homes are built in climate-controlled plants, where workers are comfortable and do similar tasks every day. They are also supervised by the same supervisors every day, and are monitored by quality control managers both from the company they work for, and third-party inspectors. Workers in the field, on the other hand, have very little oversight, and it’s the builder’s superintendent who must singlehandedly provide supervision and quality control for each phase of construction. Even banks know that the quality of modular homes is on-par or better than stick-built homes, which is why they do not differentiate between the two for financing construction loans.

8. Shorter, more predictable time line
While you’re visiting that stick-built home in the rain, consider the effect on a construction time line the weather can have. The modular process allows much of the uncontrollable forces to be mitigated because the home goes from foundation to 80% complete in one day. While a stick-built home might drag through different rain, snow, wind, and heat cycles, with all the associated delays and wear-and-tear on people and materials, the modular home is built in about 2 weeks in the factory, where the production schedule is virtually unalterable.

7. Built stronger
Structures built on-site are built platform-style, where the ceiling structure of one level is also the floor structure for the level above it. Because modules must be transported and placed by a crane onto the foundation, they are built as six-sided structures (that’s why they’re also referred to as “boxes” in the industry). The resulting home is then a product of stacked boxes, which is stronger and more stable than a platform-style structure. This explains how modular homes come from the factory with plumbing, electrical, drywall, and even cabinets and tile complete! It also explains why the resulting structures are stronger: they are built to much higher standards than site-built structures.

6. Reliable Quality Control
Quality Control (QC) is the way you are sure your home is going to be built well. The nicest granite, most rare Brazilian flooring, and most beautiful interior decoration cannot rectify mistakes made during the construction process. The only way homes are built to exacting standards every time is by having a strong QC system in place, and with site-built homes, that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the builder’s site supervisor (typically one person). Modular homes, by contrast, are built in factory settings by skilled workers who have the same managers overseeing them day in and day out. These managers constantly perform quality control checks as homes are being built, and beyond the QC they do, each modular production plant is inspected by third party inspectors on an on-going basis. Beyond the inspections in the plant, the modules also undergo inspections in the field once they are set to ensure the connections are made correctly between modules and to the foundation. But local inspectors are not inspecting for quality, only for building code compliance, so it is important to understand the builder’s QC process if you want your home built well. With modular, you are sure to have many more people checking the quality of your home before you move in. modular homes colorado

5. More pre-construction planning, fewer surprises
Any builder who has ever built a true Custom home, one that has never been built before, knows that inevitably some details of the plan end up “not working” well in the field. The reason for that is that the Architect or Engineer who draws the plans typically is not a builder (and the builder is not an Architect or Engineer), so when the theoretical world collides with the practical world, things can go awry. With the modular process, this does not happen because the plans are given a great deal more scrutiny before construction begins by both the builder and the modular plant managers-they have no choice. Builders who use the modular process are motivated to scrutinize plans much more closely than they would in a stick-build process because their crutch of “figuring it out in the field” is not available. They know that what appears on the plans will be built at the factory, whether or not it is the best way. For the modular factory, they invest a lot of time and effort to ensure that they think through each plan so problems in production are averted. This coming-together of builder and architect/engineer is what makes the Custom part of Custom Modular run much more smoothly than it does with stick-built custom homes.

4. You care about the planet
Green much? Compared to stick-building, modular construction creates WAY LESS landfill trash, because the factories that produce them get better lumber (fewer rejects), waste less during framing (reuse scraps), and some even use the bits they can’t reuse as fuel to heat the factories! Most stick-built homes produce over 4 dumpster loads of debris, and a great deal of it is just plain wasted material. If you don’t believe me, just look inside a dumpster the next time a framing crew is busy at a job site near you. It’s very hard to get framing crews who are paid for labor only to care about the materials they waste because the builder pays for that, not them. I’ve seen framers make 2′ blocks out of 10′ long 2×4’s when their dumpster was full of cast-off lumber. It’s a real problem.


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