Frequently Asked Questions
- How is modular building different from conventional building?
The structure is built in fairly complete sections that can be shipped by truck to your building site. Maximum widths of the modules range from 14 to 16 feet wide and maximum lengths range from 64 to 75 feet depending on state regulations. Many other building technologies are incorporated into the roof systems.
- What are the benefits of modular building over conventional stick building?
Precision building and enhanced quality control, when built in a factory. Materials are protected from natural elements. Building material theft is reduced, as the majority of the structure arrives to the site complete.
- Is modular building less expensive than conventional stick building?
Yes, generally 10 to 20 % less expensive and with time, the cost savings will only increase.
- Is modular building much faster than conventional stick building?
Yes. Surprisingly most homes can be built in less than 3 to 5 days at the factory. It could take 30 to 45 days to be scheduled to build based on factory backlog. During this time, the site can be prepared by the Builder to receive the modules. Once the modules are ‘set’ on site, the builder will be able to complete the project.
- How long does a modular home take to build?
Total construction time can be as little as two to three months. Conventional building could take as much as 9 to 12 months.
- Is the quality better in modular building than stick building?
Yes. Modules are built more precisely with machine tools in a factory environment. Gypsum board panels are foam bonded and screw fastened to wall and ceiling framing. The use of oversized gypsum board panels avoids butt end seams, which are common in site building. The modules are over-designed structurally to withstand the rigors of shipping. Redundant structural systems provide reduced sound transmission between floors and yield a superior product.
- Critics say the modular homes look boring and unattractive. Is that true?
It doesn’t have to be. The business model for factory built housing was simple and basic housing for only the price conscious customers. Most factories do not employ professional architects for in house design services. Review the home plans offered by most factories and then take a look at ours.
- What role does the architect play in the design of modular homes?
Architects that understand the parameters of modular building system technology are capable of creating almost any style of architecture or size home. In certain cases we use a hybrid of modular technologies combining stick-built and panelized construction to achieve the required high end look.
- Can a modular home be custom designed?
Yes. In this case however, the use of an architect is critical. We can create professional plans and layouts specific to your requirements. We will develop a look that is stylistically correct creating the greatest resale value possible.
- What styles of architecture can be created?
Virtually all styles. Colonial, Victorian, Contemporary, Mediterranean, Avant-garde, Contemporary, Dutch colonial, Georgian, Shingle style and any other style desired.
- What kinds of materials can be specified?
Nearly everything available in conventional building can be used in modular. If the factory can’t get the product in time, it can be installed on site.
- Does union labor build modular homes?
At many of the factories they do.
- Are there any size limitations?
No. The final design can be as big as you like. We developed a design for a 14,000 sf modular home comprised of thirty two modules units in Greenwich, CT. Most large homes we design range in size from 4,000 to 6,000 sf, consisting of ten to twelve modules. Large open rooms are achieved by setting boxes side by side, structured to provide an open and inviting living area.
- Do modular homes have basements?
Yes. In addition, modular homes can be built over crawl spaces, on slabs or even on piles. These foundation structures should be designed by a licensed architect or engineer.
- How are the modular units shipped?
The modules are shipped on carriers, towed by trucks. These trucks require ‘wide load’ escort vehicles. The modules are weather tight, wrapped in a waterproof membrane.
- How complete are they when they arrive at your site?
As much as 80 to 85% complete. Most modules have interior walls and ceilings finished and primed, ready to receive paint. The electrical and plumbing systems are installed. Windows, exterior and interior doors are hung, interior trim, cabinetry, toilet fixtures, appliances and certain floor finishes are often installed at the factory.
- After the modular units arrive, what work is left to complete the home?
First is the setting of the house on the foundation with a crane. Next is the erecting and unfolding of the roof system by the set crew. Utility connections must be made. Electrical and mechanical system connections at marriage points between modules must be completed. Sometimes additional site work is required for the construction of porches and decks. In many cases installation of siding and exterior trim, particularly for the unique custom home is required.
- Can I buy a home directly from the Factory?
Most modular manufacturers sell only to the builder/dealer. You hire the Builder who then purchases the modules. Your contractual obligation is with the Builder, not the factory. You may request the Builder buy the modules from a factory of your choice. There are some factories that do sell directly to the consumer.
- How does one get pricing on the modular home?
Generally the cost of the modular units, out of the factory, can vary from $75 to $100 a square foot depending on the level of finish and quality of fixtures selected. Pricing can be affected by the geometric complexity of the architecture, region of the country you are building in, and the complexity of the related site work. Your Builder should be able to provide you with an accurate price quote based on your particular needs and wants. Additional costs may include site inspection, excavation, foundation, electrical and plumbing connections, and all other site built amenities. In Fairfield County, CT., a modular home could be built at a starting cost of $175 per square foot, “turn-key”. These cost estimates will vary based on a variety of options and construction labor costs for your particular area.
- What is the customers’ first step in building a modular home?
You should start with a design. Consider selecting a home from our collection or have a home custom designed by a design professional. We are a fully licensed architectural firm available for this service. Once you have a design, a qualified builder/dealer should be contacted to prepare an accurate construction cost estimate. Contact the factories in your area and ask them for a listing of builders for you to consider.
- How do I buy a modular home?
If you like one of the stock designs from our “Cutler Series”, you may purchase the plans directly from our website. Next, provide your builder a set of plans so they can prepare an accurate construction cost estimate. Your Builder will submit our plans to the factory for pricing. After you sign a contract with your Builder, he or she will process you home through the factory and purchase the modules on your behalf.
- How does the builder get a building permit?
Design drawings should be prepared by an architect from which shop drawings are generated by the factory. These plans are then reviewed, approved and stamped by a third party engineering firm. Together with these plans, a foundation plan and any other drawings for conventionally built assemblies, your Builder should submit for Building Permit issuance.
- Can additions be done using modular building systems?
Yes. We recommend hiring a licensed professional to examine the existing home and determine the feasibility of a modular addition. If existing conditions allow for an addition, we suggest you work with an architect experienced in modular technology, to assist you in creating a design that is not only functional but increases the curb appeal of your home. Our office is available for this service.
- Can multi-family homes be built modular?
Yes. We have examples available through our office.
- Can commercial buildings be built modular as well?
Yes. We have some examples available through our office.
- Where will the modular industry be in the future?
As this industry continues to develop its product for the mainstream market, the efficiency of the assembly line will be refined through automation. Improving their production capability and product quality will reduce cost. This cost reduction will attract more builders, developers and ultimately the end user/customer. Their product will be superior in price and quality gaining them a greater share of the home building market. The professional architect, specializing in this industry, will create designs that appeal to a broader market. One day, this industry will become design driven just like the fashion, furniture and automotive industries.