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What is a Manufactured (Modular) House?

What if you could buy a customized home for a third of the price of a traditional house, with rental options that have the potential to turn a profit instantly? 

That home would show up pre-assembled in sections that you could connect within 24 hours, with no special tools or techniques needed. The house would be made of high quality and energy-efficient materials that are lightweight yet highly durable.

If that sounds too good, it’s not in 2019; approximately 10% of new, single-family homes were modular. Over 22 million Americans live in prefabricated houses.

Here we’ll discuss modular homes, how they differ from manufactured and mobile homes, and their characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages. 

What are the Defining Features of a Modular house?

What makes a modular home a modular home? The name comes from the fact that they are constructed in modules or sections. These modules are usually built in a factory or workshop and then transported to the building site.

Modular homes usually come with HVAC systems already installed. The units are made to fit together to create the form of the structure- kind of like a Legos set. The modules can either be nearly complete rooms or pre-cut sections such as walls or roofs.

This is the most definitive characteristic of modular construction. In traditional house construction, the house is built piece by piece on the same lot where the structure will stand.

What are the Different Categories of Modular homes?

When considering a modular home, two terms you will come across are on-frame and off-frame, which refers to the foundation. On-frame modular homes have a permanent, steel-beam chassis, while off-frame modular homes are lifted by a crane and placed directly on a foundation. 

Both options can be attached to permanent foundations- the distinction is whether or not the home keeps its steel frame once construction is completed.

What is the Difference Between a Modular house and a Manufactured house?

The prefabricated home umbrella includes manufactured, modular, and mobile homes. Visually, manufactured and modular homes can appear similar. The main difference between manufactured and modular homes is the codes they are built to.

Like modular homes, manufactured homes are built inside a factory or facility and then transported to the intended site. The main difference between manufactured and modular homes is that manufactured homes are made to the national HUD code, while modular homes are built to state and local building codes. 

The codes and standards a modular home is built to can vary based on state county, city, or township building codes. For example, some states, like Texas, require modular homes to be installed on a permanent foundation system. In Florida, a modular home must have the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) emblem on the cover of the home’s electrical panel. 

For this reason, it’s always essential to work with an experienced builder who can customize your structure to meet the specific codes of the home site.

What is the Difference Between a Modular house and a Mobile house?

The term ‘mobile home’ refers to a manufactured home built before June 15, 1976. Housing and Urban Development replaced that term with ‘manufactured homes.’

What is the Difference Between a Modular house and a Prefabricated (Prefab) house?

First, modular homes and prefab homes refer to the same thing. ‘Prefab’ is the umbrella or parent term for a house-made with sections or pieces that have been put together in a factory or workshop.

A modular home is considered a prefab home since it’s been pre-constructed in modules before arriving at the home site.  

How long does it take to build a Modular house?

Generally, there is no “one size fits all” for building times, even on modular homes. The modular home building process famously takes much less time than the traditional construction process.

A traditional home can take 9-12 months or longer to build. A modular home usually takes 3-4 months to assemble, depending on the design, size, and experience of those assembling.

However, at Turn Key Fabrication, we deliver prefabricated homes and rooms that can be assembled in as little as 24 hours and require no prior building experience. 

What are the Advantages of Modular Homes?

The advantages of modular homes are seemingly endless. Here are just a few of the most popular talking points:

  • Shorter Build Time. As previously mentioned, modular homes can be built in less than a month at an experienced factory. We at Turn Key Fabrication build ready-t0-go modular homes in 2-5 days.
  • Price. Modular homes are, on average, as much as 15% less expensive than a traditionally built home. Many factors influence this figure such as design, structure size, lot size, building materials and intended usage.
  • Reduced Energy Costs. Our prefabricated homes are well-insulated, built for airtightness, and because they are fully customizable, can be built using energy-efficient options. As modular homes are built in factories according to specific measurements, there’s no need for excess material, and waste is significantly reduced.
  • Customization. You have the ability to choose the exact size, design, and specifications for intended use, of the entire structure. Every aspect of Modular builds is completely customizable. Smart home automation can also be incorporated in factory. This allows the owner to control their home security, lighting, door locks and other features from anywhere in the world, an obvious advantage for those planning to rent their space.
  • No Building Delays. Since everything is built in a facility, there are no delays due to weather or natural disasters that are possible during on-site construction.
  • Ideal for Remote Locations. Modular homes are a good fit for those living in remote locations, even those wishing to go off the grid. You can customize your home to withstand specific natural disasters or design windows around natural beauty. The ease of adding onto modular homes is also an advantage here- more rooms, storage or structures can be easily supplanted as needed.

What are the Disadvantages of Modular Homes?

Here are some possible disadvantages of modular homes:

  • You need an experienced builder. There are many ways in which modular homes can save you money- skimping on a builder who knows what they’re doing is not one of them. Not all manufacturers are the same- we at Turn Key Fabrication are proud to use only the highest quality materials, and work with the most experienced builders in the industry.
  • Transportation. The modules must be transported from the factory to the building site. Careful handling of the modular components while in transit is required, as well as transportation insurance in some cases. Contact us to get a delivery quote from one of our trusted affiliates.
  • Additional Expenses. It’s important to be aware of the costs that are not included in the base price of a typical prefab home, such as the transport and travel, the service connection costs (power, water, etc.,), cost of land, or local taxes and permits. As long as you are aware of all of the finances involved in your unique ownership situation, additional expenses will not catch you by surprise. If you’d like to discuss this process with our experienced consultants, reach out to us directly.
  • Financing. Lending options for modular homes are also more restrictive than traditional homes. The homebuilder may also require periodic payments throughout the construction process for unforeseen obstacles such as permit delays. The bottom line is that financing prefab homes is not as straightforward as a standard home loan. 

How long will a Modular Home Last?

A modular can last just as long as a regular stick home built directly on a construction site when properly constructed and installed. The average life expectancy of a modular home is between 50-60 years. However, prefabricated houses can last much longer if properly maintained and kept.

Do Modular Homes hold Resale Value?

The resale value of modular homes depends mainly on the market to which one is attempting to sell. 

Many people perceive modular homes as less desirable than traditionally built homes in some areas, such as large cities or suburban neighborhoods. In other regions where alternative living and tiny homes are popular, modular homes (predominantly self-sufficient structures) can dramatically increase value. It may be helpful to enlist a local real estate agent for advice on how the specific area views the prefab and modular homes, in general.

Also, consider: a traditionally built house might be appraised higher if a functional modular home in the backyard is used as a guest house or Airbnb.

Learn More

When considering a modular home, it is essential to do in-depth research on all available options. You won’t compromise on quality, utility, or design with the right prefab builder.

We trust that this article has helped answer the most common questions regarding modular homes. For more specific questions, please reach out to us.

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