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- Selecting Modular Home Builders and Manufacturers
Selecting Modular Home Builders and Manufacturers
How to buy, and build, prefab
- Photo: Flickr
Modular homes are constructed in a factory and assembled on site. Since modular homes are factory-built to exacting standards, it is the work of the builder to marry the component parts and complete any remaining finishes.
How to Find a Builder
The process of building a modular home starts with the builder. “Consumers are either going to look for a manufacturer, or they are going to look for a builder who deals with modular homes,” says Steve Snyder, executive director of the Modular Building Systems Association (MBSA). If they start with the house, homebuyers can scan manufacturers’ websites, look at model floor plans, and review a list of certified builders in their area.
Once a manufacturer is chosen, the road leads back to the builder. “When a buyer gets in touch with a manufacturer, he or she will be referred back to a builder in their area who has a relationship with the manufacturer,” says Snyder. The consumer then buys the modular home through the builder, not the manufacturer.
“Modular home manufacturers are suppliers of modules to a builder, much like a lumber yard supplies the site-built homebuilder with supplies,” says Thayer Long, vice president of public affairs for the National Modular Housing Council (NMHC). The builder represents the company and will be responsible for callbacks or complaints.
Some consumers wish to start with a builder who deals with modular homes. Modular home associations like the MBSA feature online resources to help consumers learn more about the product and the process, or check out a directory of builders, vendors, and suppliers. “Our site has a map of the U.S. — you can click on a state and find manufacturers who ship to and deal with builders in that state,” says Snyder.
Modular additions are growing in popularity as homeowners choose to improve their present homes rather than move. “People are looking to add space to their homes,” says Andy Gianino, founder and president of The Home Store, an organization that acts as both dealer and builder of modular homes. “In-law additions are popular for aging parents who need more support, or families who need the extra help with the grandchildren.”
“Homeowners can add a modular addition to the side of their home, or they can add to the top of the home, creating a second story,” Gianino says. Adding a modular addition is like any addition to a stick-built home — permits and site preparation are required. A builder who works with modular homes should be contracted to do the work and assist the homeowner in selecting a design.
Adding a modular addition to create a second level requires an engineer to assess the strength of the first floor and determine what will need to be done to the existing structure to ensure that it will support the weight of the addition. “The engineer will tell the general contractor what will need to be done to beef up the first floor,” says Gianino.
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