What if a construction
alternative existed that allowed builders to erect a structure stronger
faster and easier than traditional methods? And not only that but
what if it also enabled them to create a better product in less time
and for less money. Sound good? Such is the foundation of modular
energy-efficient modular solution.
sliding doors and transom windows create cross ventilation. Blue iron
railings run throughout the interior and around the exterior. The
splash of color is a striking design feature.
According to the Modular Building Systems Council, modular housing is one of the fastest-growing segments of the residential construction industry. Statistics reported by the National Association of Home Builders show that from 1992 to 2002, modular housing production increased by 48 percent.
Modular home building differs from traditional "stick building" in that it's performed in a factory and not onsite. The modular home is prefabricated from pre-designed sections called modules and then shipped to the housing site and set by a crane. While their construction process may be unique, modular homes are built to the same rigid building codes as conventional stick-built
homes." In essence what we do is actually stick-build homes in the factory,"
A modular home is a building derived from a family of homes known as system-built homes. "System-built homes include
, log homes
, and dome
." Each module that is used to make a modular home is typically 12,14 or 16 feet wide, and it could be in length anywhere from 20 to 68 feet. Though modular homes are often compared to manufactured homes or mobile homes, the two are completely different concepts.
"A lot of people confuse modular homes with manufactured homes since they both originate from a factory. However, manufactured homes are built to what they call the HUD code. . . It's a performance code, not necessarily a building code. Also, manufactured homes are often sited within very specific areas within a community. ... In addition to buying the manufactured home, the residents must pay rent on the land. Manufactured homes also do not appreciate like other houses do, they depreciate like a
car." Modular homes (on the other hand) are built to a different building code than manufactured homes. Modular homes comply with the state building code. Manufactured homes comply with a federal code, which is more lenient."
NODS TO MODS
"With a modular home, everything can be finished in as little as 90 days, because infrastructure work,
meaning foundation, running electrical lines and things of that nature, are being accomplished at the same time that the home is being built in the
factory." The product of an innovative concept, modular homes offer solutions to many of the problems builders face while creating an onsite home. Benefits include speed, strength and safety for the home during the construction process.
"With a site built home, a construction schedule can range any where from five months to two years. With a modular home, everything can be finished in as little as 90 days, because infrastructure work, meaning foundation, running electrical lines and things of that nature, are being accomplished at the same time that the home is being built in the
factory." Modular building can also help builders save time when remodeling existing homes.
Right now, in lot additions are very popular. We can build the addition the customer wants at the factory, and then we can go onsite and create the space next to the home where the addition is going to go. We then put the foundation in, attach modules that make up the addition the house and connect the addition to the utilities that are already in the house."
And since they are built inside away from the elements, industry experts tip their hats to modular homes' strength and durability, which eclipses that of
stick built structures. "There are less problems with things such as warping and mold, which has become an issue, because the houses are never exposed to the weather while they are being built," A modular home's strength can also be attributed to necessity, since the structure must be built to withstand transportation to the site.
"We build a little bit differently in the factory from the standpoint that we have to build the units stronger. Consequently, we use more lumber because we have to be able to ship it over to the site. We then use a crane to lift the house by two cables and set them down on top of the foundation. You couldn't really do that with a
stick built house because they are not built strong enough to withstand the
transportation." Modular homes also help the builder stick to the budget, which is often a problem with traditional stick building. The upshot? A more satisfied consumer and a more pleasant experience for the builder.
"You have to know the price before you begin, because you have to know in advance everything that is going to be done at the factory. Compare that with conventional construction where sometimes the customer literally starts having the home built without even having picked the materials." Add to these advantages the fact that modular homes are helping combat the shrinking pool of skilled labor.
"The National Association of Home Builders has repeatedly said that there is a crisis when it comes to the quantity of skilled people willing to do the work. So if you don't have skilled carpenters, plumbers or electricians to build the homes onsite, it makes sense to take advantage of factory production labor, because factory production labor only requires each person to be good at one thing. . . I really think that the shortage of skilled labor will continue to get worse, and as such you will see more and more factory built homes."
Traditionally, most of the people that have been involved in the home building industry have been the baby boomers, and now they are wanting to retire and move on to less strenuous work. This had added to the lack of skilled craftsmen in the construction field. I think a recent figure was that around 50,000 people were moving on to work in a different field. This has made it very tough for the independent home builder.
So with modular home building, one of the appealing things for a contractor is that he can concentrate on doing the infrastructure work and the
turnkey work. A house is usually 90 percent complete when it arrives on site, so the builder only has to finish about 10 percent. ... This is very beneficial when the labor pool is shrinking,"