“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
– Chinese Proverb
This is a great quote because… everyone wishes they started something earlier.
- I wish I had started exercising back in my 20s.
- I wish I had discovered being a YouTuber before it got saturated.
- I wish I had invested $1,000 in Amazon in 1997.
You get the idea. But here’s the thing. You DIDN’T do those things 20 years ago. Opportunities that are lost seldom present themselves again. But, you have the chance right now to change the way you will live for the next 3, 5, or 20 years. Using modular construction is a choice. Modular construction means you get the chance now to build a beautiful home that ensures outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in growth of the modular home industry has been the misunderstanding of exactly what modular construction is or isn’t. Much of this has been driven because of modular constructions affordable housing cousin, the mobile home (manufactured home). While everyone supports the ability to provide affordable homes, modular construction takes a different path to achieve level affordability that can’t be achieved with traditional onsite construction.
Manufactured (think mobile) homes achieve affordability by being built to a different building code than either modular homes or site built homes. The Federal government created a prescriptive code known as the HUD code for manufactured home construction. This means that as long as an engineer certifies a home to a required performance level (i.e. can withstand 90 mph winds) then the home meets that code. It doesn’t matter if it achieves it with 2”x2” construction and tape.
Both site built homes and homes built using modular (off-site) construction must follow the International Residential Building code (or your state’s version of it). This code is descriptive. It will state how a home built in a specific wind zone must be constructed. For instance, it could state that the home’s walls must be built with #2 SYP 2”x6” studs and sheathing must be attached with 8p ring shank nails placed 6” apart on studs and 3” apart on top and bottom plates.
Homes built using modular construction actually take this one step further. They have to be built in sections (modules), transported to the home site on today’s highway system and then be lifted with a crane. The home is actually constructed in a way that builds in resilience. In addition, the factory construction method means the construction of the home took advantage of the efficiencies of manufacturing. Depending on the area of the country, the home plan, and the options selected; a modular home can be better valued than its site built competition by 5% – 15% or more.
The Efficiency of Modular Construction
First, the term modular home is a misnomer. Modular is a type of construction, not a type of home. However, because everyone has adopted the term modular home it is the simplest way to describe a home that was built using modular construction. Using modular construction to build a home is just a way to divide a house plan into modules, build it off site in the controlled environment of a factory (just like everything else that you buy: a car, a phone, a TV, etc.) and then delivering it to a home site for installation. A home built using modular construction now leads the residential construction industry in creativity, energy efficiency, design, and value while providing some of the healthiest living spaces.
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It does this by turning home construction into an efficient manufacturing process versus the current inefficient process of construction in the field. It gains even larger efficiencies because construction is happening at two locations simultaneously. Onsite construction still has to take place. Driveways, utilities, and foundations have to be built… onsite. But, modular moves most of the rest of a home’s construction indoors and constructs it at the exact same time the site work is happening. In traditional construction, these processes have to happen sequentially. You can’t start building a floor if there is no foundation to place it on. Modular minimize total time to completion by maximizing off-site construction of the home.
Modular Means …
More Design Choices – With advancements in modular construction you can build virtually any home plan that can be efficiently divided into modules. They can then be built using indoor off-site construction and assembled onsite. For example, the Modular Home Collection at ArchitecturalDesigns.com displays over 6,000 home plans from architects and designers that can be “modularized” and built using advanced modular construction.
More Energy Efficient – Because modular construction concentrates the manufacturing of many homes in one location it means that processes can be applied consistently. Tight, indoor construction processes mean healthier living for you and your family. Modular construction is a building system. By using a consistent system to build your home, details that are often overlooked in traditional construction are managed and done properly in a factory environment. Building a home to a high performance standard is almost a by-product of building indoors.
More Resilient – The term resiliency refers to a home’s ability to withstand and recover from natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, and flooding. It also can extend to events like severe winter storms. Modular homes are built strong. The basis for modular construction is to build a home that meets or exceeds building code. However, the modules that make up a modular building are built off site and transported to that site. The effort of getting them from a factory to the building site is about the equivalent of surviving a hurricane and an earthquake before a module ever reaches a job site.
More Value – The process of modular construction is the equivalent of construction efficiency. Efficiency means planning the entire construction process. The process builds efficiency in many ways. They include: better use of material, buying in materials in bulk, and better construction planning.
Modular Just Mean More
Residential home construction today is a gauntlet. The lack of skilled labor, the cost of materials, the timeframe to build a home and the regulatory hurdles all add up. Home construction is difficult. Smart builders and smart homeowners are learning about the key advantages of modular construction. The custom home building industry is one of the last industries to embrace the advantages that every other major industry and product has discovered… factory production. The changing construction labor force and demand for better and consistent quality are now driving the entire custom home building industry to find a better solution. Home buyers and home builders alike are learning that Modular Means More!