Wednesday, June 26, 2019

East Coast Modular Housing - A Unique Community

Having lived my entire life on the East Coast I naturally assumed that modular housing was modular housing no matter where you lived in the US.

Over the past 15 years I’ve learned that assumption is far from true. East Coast modular home building and the factories and builders that use modular construction here are exceptions to the rule, not the rule!

Here are a few facts about the East Coast (EC) single family modular home industry.

Every modular factory on the EC builds to the latest IRC adopted in the state where they are shipping their homes.Almost all EC modular homes are custom or customized from the factory’s plan books.

All EC modular homes have their plans reviewed by a third party inspection service before they are sent to not the local code offices like a site builder would but to a state agency that reviews the plans again and ‘always’ finds something wrong either in the wording or regulation number omission.

Plans are then sent back to the factory where the third party reviews it again and in most cases brings in a PE to review it also. Then it is sent back to the state agency where it is more often than not, put on the bottom of the stack of plans waiting to be reviewed and stamped.

No single family site builder is put under this microscope.

By now the new home buyer has seen his time advantage of getting into his new home drastically reduced by a state bureaucracy that’s only real function is to show they are doing something useful in order to continue to exist.

A modular home builder’s paperwork presented to local code enforcement for a building permit have twice as many pages, at least, as the local ‘good old boy’ site builder. In almost all cases the local code officer, who may only see a few new home plans a year, has no idea what he/she is looking at when this avalanche of paperwork from the modular home builder is slammed on their desk.

Now let’s look at the rest of the country where custom modular home factories are few and far between.

Yes, there are modular home factories but they tend to also build HUD product and a lot of their IRC modular homes look very similar to their HUD line. This is not a bad thing, it’s just the way modular housing emerged in those regions.

Another difference between the EC and the rest of the country is a lack of true custom modular builders. Most builders are actually dealers that offer both HUD and IRC modular homes with many of them showcasing their homes in a large model village where you can actually buy the house you just walked through, have it financed, delivered and be living in it about 60 days later.

Modular housing on the West Coast is limited to a few boutique modular factories building so few homes one has to wonder what would happen to them if that continuous stream of investment money suddenly stopped like it did for Blu Homes.

The Southwest continues to think every modular home is a HUD home. Enough said about that region. No IRC modular factories and no independent modular home builders.

So why is the East Coast so rich in custom modular housing? It’s quite simple. Our factories and builders are the best in the modular home industry. Stunning custom homes leave the factories weekly. We have a rich history of building custom modular homes and account for the vast majority of all modular housing built in the US.

Compared to the automated, robotic modular factories around the world spewing out cookie cutter steel framed ‘modular’ homes, every East Coast modular home is a work of art, built to higher standards than anywhere else and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.


William aka "Little Bill" said...

Well said Gary. The amount of pages in my last permit set was 230. I repeat..230 pages. This was for an 8 module 2 story with 3 bump outs. Unreal....luckly the factory turned it around in 3 weeks.

Anonymous said...

"Little Bill" said it before and will say it again...we manufacture modular homes MUCH MUCH MUCH faster than the paperwork required...

Anonymous said...

One exception, nothing is mentioned about the multitude of factory errors and poor workmanship that the "Builder" ends up fixing and eating the cost pf in the field which often adds more time to the schedule than if stick built. I am a 35 year veteran of the modular manufacturing and building industry, having spent my career promoting modular and living the mistakes. Now I stick build and everything flows much more smoothly. Our local inspectors are great to work with as long as you do things right. Don't be deceived by modular's promise of time savings (they build the modules concurrently with you building the foundation) and 80% complete from the factory. It's a complete fabrication!

Anonymous said...

^ sounds like you worked with the wrong New England modular companies bud.

Anonymous said...

14 to be exact. Sounds like you are employed by one of them. Experience will eventually show you the truth.