No other industry, other than perhaps the clothing industry, has such variation in price and quality than the modular home building industry. There are excellent deals out there on modular homes if you shop around, however if you do not educate yourself you can waste a lot of money buying a modular home. Price does not always guarantee quality, and only by actually looking at modular home models and reading your materials list and other information carefully can you determine what you will be getting.
A modular home is a house built in a factory. It is made of stick built construction, just like a home built on your site. At the factory, they frame your home in three or more sections. They then put on the siding, insulation, the roof and the drywall. It doesn’t stop there though. Your home will be delivered complete with carpet and paint. All that’s left to do is fasten it all together and you are good to go. It takes only a couple of weeks to install a home on your property.
It costs a lot less to mass produce homes in a factory than it does to build one on site. There is less wood waste and labor is more organized and less time consuming. The materials are the same in most cases as would be used on site. The process is very similar, but there are key differences. On a construction site half a dozen carpenters work in the hot sun, nailing your home together bit by bit, using a generator for their power tools. In a factory teams of workers built each part of your home separately and then other teams nail it together in sections. It varies in much the same way a tailored suit varies from one made by a factory.
If you want a low cost home, there are some great bargains out there in the modular home market. Quality varies but not always in direct relation to price. You may be able to get a very nice home much more cheaply than you could have one built on site. By shopping wisely, you might even get a very nice modular home for the price of a budget modular home. If you are really on a tight budget though, you may be able to get a finished, livable, budget home for a fraction of the cost of nearly any other option.
Some of the modular homes advertised on the market are very similar to mobile homes. They are built by companies who used to produce mobile homes. The words “trailer” and “mobile home” have become taboo so some companies are upgrading a bit and calling their products modular homes. There is nothing wrong with this. To be fair, people never gave really good trailers a fair chance. Just as with any home, the quality depends on the work done and the materials used, not on the style of the home. When most stick built home builders were still using two-by-fours, the best mobile home companies were building everything with two-by-six lumber. These homes were superior in quality to many of their site built neighbors, but their value didn’t hold because of very unfair stereotyping. Unfair discrimination against mobile homes in zoning has made this change in wording necessary no doubt. If you want a comfortable home to live in, at an amazingly low price, these low end modular homes might be the right solution for you.
There are some modular homes that are hard to identify from site built homes. The companies are able to do custom designs, install expensive wood moldings and create a well insulated home of similar quality to an onsite homebuilder. The price is often similar as well. Still if you shop around, you might be able to get a bargain on one of these. In theory there really should be little or no difference in the quality of a stick built home and a modular home. The variables involved in quality, workmanship and materials need not vary at all between the two methods. It is not where a home is built that makes it the best. It only matters how it is built, with what materials, and by whom.
Learn all you can about construction and shop wisely when looking for a modular home. There are many low cost, high quality modular homes out there. Unfortunately you might also find some low quality, high priced modular homes. It pays to know the difference. For more information on quality home construction of all types download our 98 page free book and read the many articles on this site that involve modular home building and stick built construction.