Wednesday, September 7, 2016

No News Available About Traditional Modular Homes

It doesn’t matter if your modular home factory is located in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kansas or Oregon, there is no real news about our industry in leading magazines, newspapers or large media outlets.

Check it out for yourself. Google ‘modular home’ in their ‘news’ section and you will find little or no current news about traditional modular homes, the ones built in a factory using traditional building materials, not steel undercarriages and definitely not HUD manufactured homes.

What you will find are stories about Irish resistance to modular housing in their country; Australia's new love affair with modular housing; innovative ways that England is promoting modular home living and other countries building new modular home factories, shipping container homes and tiny houses.

The United States companies making news are Architects touting their latest one-off modular house that is built by a third party factory and only cost $400 a sq ft; ‘flat pack’ and ‘folding’ modular homes; shipping containers being called modular; 3-D printed homes; tiny houses and even modular cardboard modular homes!

I read an article a while back that called Yurts the new modular home. OMG!

What you don’t see given any national exposure is “Traditional Modular Homes.”

Yes, more and more of you are starting to blog and post your houses on Facebook but the number of people actually seeing them is limited to visitors to your pages or website. Many modular home builders get less than 30 hits on their website a month. Others get hundreds but that is just a drop in the bucket.

The MHBA has their Modular Home of the Month and that is a great start. Hopefully the NAHB’s BSC website will came alive and start featuring modular homes.

The real problem here is not that we aren’t trying. We are but we need to get stories on TV networks and in popular magazines that showcase the benefits and advantages of modular home construction. Breakneck Builds could have been that show. However when someone watches that show and sees how fast a house is delivered, set and finished, it sets up unrealistic expectations that you, as a builder, have to explain.

Here is another site everyone needs to visit. Go to (this link should take you directly to the pages) and search for ‘modular homes.’ Then click on the ‘filter’ button above the first video and select ‘this week.’ Surprise….it’s 99% manufactured housing. No modulars!

Does anyone else see why we are only 1.5% of total new home sales? This isn’t rocket science. It called promoting our industry.


Builder Bob said...

Great thought provoking article. I don't think anyone has given this much thought. Let's hope your article starts the creative juices flowing.

Backyard Home Pro said...

The problem centers around the disconnect between the factory and the contractor or dealer. Since the factory focus is centered around building boxes that other people sell and install, they have no interest in any forms of marketing as long as their production line is running at or near capacity. This leaves the local dealer or contractor with the heavy financial burden of trying to create interest within the mainstream media. Let me know how many contractors you know willing to do that! I read an article a few years back that mentioned this industry should take the approach that "Florida Oranges" and "California Cheese" took by pooling funds from all factories into a brand marketing effort. Both have proven very successful at getting the awareness out to the consumer. That kind of effort would make people aware of the large number of homes being built each year.

Steve Vallejos
Valley Home Development

Tom Hardiman said...

Backyard Home Pro - I love the Florida oranges analogy. There is an organization trying to make the modular home industry national and there is currently a consumer awareness program (CAP) that allows the manufacturers to share in the cost. Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) is a national non-profit trade association - Its a rebirth of the former Modular Building Systems Association that fell on some hard times when the housing marketed crashed.

But its growing - we have about 82 dues paying members now. Still heavily concentrated in the Mid Atlantic with half the members in that region. 14 or so in the Northeast, 10 in the central US, a few in the southeast and about 7 in the west. Still very scattered but we are working on building up each of those regions.

The CAP initiative allows each modular manufacturer to submit $10/floor to the program. Those funds are pooled and used to promote the industry and drive more traffic to the site, where consumers can learn more and request more info from the builders. Currently, 8 manufacturers are participating and supporting it. So we have the mechanism in place, we just need the supporters to make it work better!

Future Home Buyer said...

Yes, this is so true, I stumbled across modular homes looking for a less expensive way to afford a home layout that works for me in my area. There is not a lot information on social media or their websites have pictures of projects that they did over two years ago. How about showcasing some new project that have been recently done from start to finish. How about more photos of your finish product. Now I know you might not want to show all of, what you have available because of completion and all :) :) :). But, customers need to view enough to say Yes, I want this company to build my house for me. Plus depending how far the showroom is from where they live. People look on the intent for everything for before they get in their cars and go.

Unknown said...

I realize this thread is kinda old, but I just stumbled across your blog. Great conversation. I'm involved in digital marketing professionally, and I have to say that you bring up good points about not being able to find recent news or projects online. However, the solution is not to spend more time and money on TV and media. You JUST said you couldn't find anything online. This is where people are searching. TV and print is dead. Not only that, but people don't want to just hear from industry insiders because people can figure out pretty quickly that your goal is self promotion. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't hurt for the contractors and factories to have a social media presence and they should be active posting visual content and answering questions. But what the 21st century buyer really wants is to hear from other people who have had modular homes built. They're looking for a blog by a homeowner who had one built. A live facebook Q&A with the homeowners, facebook live events for house settings, homeowner takeovers of your facebook page, instagram photos posted by the homeowners. You need to turn the homeowners into brand ambassadors who tell your story on social media and do your marketing for you. THEY are your influencers. THEY are your rockstars. You have to be careful, though, not to compromise the authenticity of the homeowner. If you want to chat some more, let me know. I'm in the seat right now evaluating whether a modular build makes sense for a really nice piece of land I'm interested in, so I'm going through all of this first hand. If I go through with it, I fully intend to blog every detail of the process and be very active in social media because I think it's what people are looking for.