Modular home building kits are basically shell kits, prefabricated for easy construction. Modular home building kits come in two basic types. Panel and modular unit, but these two categories oversimplify the vast array of choices available. Styles range from rustic to modern and many of them look uniquely simplistic. Of course there are significant variations in price and what you get for your money.
Most kits build a home to the shell stage. They do not contain floor coverings, plumbing fixtures or appliances. Of course they do not include lot preparation, grading or foundations, though some of them do not require a foundation. Usually they do contain floor systems, wall systems and roofing systems. Some contain windows and doors, while others require that you purchase them separately. Insulation can be included, not included or optional.
Most conventional shells cost about $25 or $30 per square foot including windows and doors. This usually does not include insulation and dry wall. Many of the kits do include insulation and dry wall. Closed cell insulation may cost about $10 to $12 per square foot. The cost of dry wall material is fairly incidental, but with installation and dry wall, could cost between $2 and $3 per square foot of floor space. Thus your shell with insulation and drywall, could be $37 to $44 per square foot. Californians can probably expect to pay 20 or 30 percent more and those in North Atlantic states could pay at least 10 or 20 percent more.
Many modular kits cost considerably more, while others cost considerably less. The range of pricing for modular kits is between $20 and $200 per square foot. In fairness many of the less expensive kits do not include insulation and drywall, and the more expensive ones provide highly efficient insulation, and a finished looking interior and exterior.
Many of the modular kits are incredibly small. It’s not uncommon to find kits that are less than 200 square feet. The selling point of one of these is that you will not need a building permit, if you build it on your lot. It’s a perfect for a second house either attached to your home, or placed in the back yard for an office, studio apartment or a pool house. Other modular kits can be custom designed, to whatever size you want, including homes larger than 4000 square feet. Others advertise that you can start small, and add on rooms as you need them and can afford them. This is an excellent selling point.
Ease of Construction – Most able bodied people can build a modular kit, but some are easier and lighter weight than others
Speed of Construction – Can be built in days or weeks.
Ability to Build Small and Add on – This feature only applies to some brands.
Energy Efficiency – This is only in some cases.
Warranty – Some modular homes offer a ten year warranty.
Appearance – Most modular kits are attractive and unique looking.
Durability – Must be assessed on an individual basis, but some are quite strong.
Price – Some kits are economical, and they alleviate the need for a general contractor.
Price – Some modular kits are outrageously priced, and almost all cost more than stick building the home yourself, or building panels at home, and assembling them on site.
Prefabricated Appearance – Most modular home kits look obviously prefabricated.
Do not take Your Climate into Consideration – Many kits have flat roofs or other rooflines that would not work in a damp or snowy climate. Others are built on stilt like metal posts, and this may not be practical in some climates or soils.
Not Enough Information Readily Available – While some websites are very open about what you get, others are deliberately vague and raise more questions than they provide answers. It would require many phone calls and pointed questions to evaluate exactly what is included and even then you may have some surprises when you get your kit.
No Guarantee of Customer Support – These homes represent a sizable investment, and there is no way to be sure what sort of customer support you may get, or what happens if you find your product inferior, or not what you expected when it arrives. Be sure to ask plenty of questions before ordering, to insure that the product is what you expect from a home.
Modular home building kits and panel home kits vary a lot. Some modular home building kits include installation, while others are just dropped off on the lot. Some kits are unbelievably inexpensive while others are extraordinarily costly considering the size, and level of completion. If you decide to assemble a modular kit on your own lot, you should shop around and evaluate each kit on its own merit.
Compare the price with what you are actually getting. There is a lot more to comparing a kit than the information offered on most websites. You will have to call or communicate by e-mail. You will need to ask a lot of questions. Make a list of questions you still have after reading their website completely, and establish communication with each company. This will give you at least some idea of their customer service quality as well.
Comparing modular home building kits can be quite confusing at first, but as you learn more about construction it becomes considerably easier. For more information on construction costs and what to expect in home building materials, read other articles on our website and download our free 98 page book. Consider carefully the advantages or disadvantages of each kit and compare all your options. Consider the pros and cons of using a general contractor or home builder and to build a shell for you. Compare the cost of this to the cost of the shell. Be sure to research thoroughly before ordering modular home building kits.