MetroABQ Blog

Modern Day Pre-Fab Homes

A World Away From the Trailers of Olde, and Getting Greener All the Time

When you think of trucks hauling several parts of a house to a home site and then assembling the house in a day, you may be thinking of the old days of Manufactured homes, complete with metal siding and skirting.

These are different times and Modular homes are entirely different from their less attractive, energy-leaking older cousins. Most people don’t know what to expect with Modern Pre-Fab homes, but after seeing it completed, the usual response is that they are impressed with how it looks and with the custom, upgraded features. What most people don’t know, is that modular homes can offer so much in energy efficiency.

Built with energy efficiency in mind, using Energy Star guidelines, these homes can cut your average utility bills by 30%.

“I wanted an energy -efficient house with bills as low as possible,” Robert Arnold said about designing his New Jersey area Modular home. “It turned out to be easy going Modular. …The environment wasn’t my concern. All decisions came down to dollars. I’m civic-minded, but if it was going to cost me more, I wouldn’t have done it.”

The first Modulars, built twenty years ago, came with few design options and no customization. The newer designs have numeroud floorplans that can all be modified. Arnold’s modules arrived in 6 parts, and he was able to be very involved int eh process, designing closets and where exactly walls should be.

With people who know what the want, the design process can take about a week, although most people spend more time mulling over the options. A full set of architectural drawings takes another week and then they have to be submitted and approved by the city building departments. Factory construction of the Modules only takes about a week. In one day, the Modules are trucked to the site and assembled.

A major environmental benefit of Modular housing is that the building site is impacted for such a short period of time. There aren’t noisy delivery trucks coming and going all year, and there is no material stored onsite. And of course, there is very little construction material waste at the home site, which cuts down on dust, noise and local pollution. It’s definitely better for the neighbors!

Also, because the Modules are put together indoors, they can place sheetrock on the wall before putting on the outside covering. Becayse they are out of the weather, the builders can take more time to properly seal between the sill plates and wall, and they can insulate around every outlet box. In the factory, all the boards are cut at one time, using a computerized saw that creates minimal waste. This allows a smart builder to easily recycle building waste much easier than trucking it away fromt eh site back to the factory.

And finally, the cost. The price for Robert Arnold’s New Jersey 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom home was $265,000.

It’s estimates that modular construction costs 5-25% less than traditional homes built on-site, although some companies claim savings of up to 50%. Prices start around $50,000-$60,000 for an 800-900 square-foot home (1 or 2 bedroms, 1 bath) but can go as high as $500,000-1 million for large customized high-quality homes. And that’s without the land, foundation or other site work.

A rough estimate for a 1,600 square-foot home ($89,000) base price) with modular garage ($30,000) plus permits, utility connections, site prep, Foundation, Engineering and survey work is $167,500 total cost. An upscale 3200 square-foot modular home delivered in eight pieces in MAryland had a base price of $300,000 but the extras, including a basement, septic fields, porches, a driveway, permits and other charges bumped the total up to about $560,000.

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