Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And We Wonder Why Modular Housing Gets a Bad Name

I was looking through some online bulletin boards and came across this question posed by someone that has looked into modular housing and asked if anyone knew anything about them. The answers are so typical of what the average person thinks when they hear the words "Modular Home."

We, as an industry, are not doing the best job of promoting why modular homes are great.

Here's the thread:
Question: We've been house hunting for what feels like forever. We can't find anything we both like. We've talked about buying land and having a house built and designing it ourselves. When I was looking online, a few modular home websites popped up. Some of the homes are very nice and the prices are very, very good. Are modular homes as good as a traditional house? Do they last as long? 
 Answer: I think the concept is fantastic - less waste, less time to install, less exposure to elements during constuction. It's something I'd consider.
On the other hand, the actual implementation is sometimes of less quality than desired, so it pays to be very careful and do research before you order. You want to not only tour the factory and see their recommended models, you want to ask about the last 5 actual houses they shipped and go look at what those look like from the outside and talk to the owners if possible. See how that might get you a more realistic response than just talking to the owners who are happy or being paid for their glowing recommendation?

A: Modular housing is the same as mobile home. Financing can be hard to come by, typically you have no basement, just cheaply made but enough bells and whistles to make someone think this is a great option.

 A: Husband says if they are decently manufactured they can be built better than stick built, BUT many are not... through production short corners and poorly trained workers, low production costs... etc. I guess I'd say thoroughly research the company and their track record/references, etc.

A: They may not be a good idea in tornado/hurricane prone areas.
A: If the modular home has hurricane straps connected to underground anchors along with windows and frames tested to withstand tornado/hurricane force winds they just might be able to withstand strong winds.
A: As long as the home is placed on a permanent foundation (slab, crawlspace, basement, etc) then you shouldn't have a problem with the financing. Modulars can be custom ordered with as much finished as you desire, manufactured (such as mobile) must be shipped "finished". In my experience in looking at them and working on houses, the finishing touches of the modular and manufactured housing isn't quite up to par with what you get with the stick built. Generally you are limited on various flooring/siding choices. If you like hardwood floors, good luck, mainly you will find vinyl. Most siding you are looking at is vinyl, which in a high wind/lots of sun exposure can cause degradation of the siding. If you can do some of the work yourself (such as installing cabinetry, painting, finish work) then you can generally get into a stick built just as cheap as modular, if you can do more, then you can beat the prices fairly easily. Feel free to steal their floor plans though, very efficient floor plans!


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this is the world of a modular home builder. With so many modular homes being built by HUD Code factories and sold by HUD Code dealers, utilizing the same materials and designs as their HUD Code homes, it creates confusion. In some cases customers are even being told that they are purchasing a modular home, when in fact they end up with a double wide. This is what creates those kind of responses to the persons question about building a new modular home!

Anonymous said...

Although many units are produced in dual process facilities and may raise some confusion. Reputable producers and reputable dealers/builders present a clear distinction between the products and their origins.

Anonymous said...

As a retailer and builder in the state of Tennessee, we have long faced this uphill battle. We are one of very few "true" modular retailers in the entire state but yet our main competition are the mobile home lots that are selling their brand of "modular" and it is nearly impossible to convince the typical buyer that our product is far and beyond superior. In most cases it comes down to price alone and of course, we can't compete with their prices. I've said for many years that the modular industry as a whole needs to pool together and create a nationwide marketing campaign to educate the consumer about what modulars actually are and there needs to be a new name entirely given to modular homes. Because, ultimately, it comes down the the term "modular" creating even more confusion as to what the product actually is. Especially when the mobile home industry is using the same term.

Anonymous said...

How do you fight this misinformation? I recently had a booth at a Home Show in a local mall. Most of the people that stopped and asked about my homes said they loved the plans but would probably build a home. When I asked why they said they don't think any house built in a factory is as good as one built on a lot.
I was going to tell them about cars and appliances but decided to keep my mouth shut. We need to find a way to let people know that we don't sell crap.