I was working with another carpenter about 25 years ago and he told me a story that I would never forget. He said that he was working in a neighborhood, where the crime rate was incredibly high. They were instructed not to leave any of their tools outside of their vehicles, because they wouldn’t be there very long.The first day that he worked on the job, the plumber laid all of the copper water supply pipes in the foundation. The plumber finished the job, and by the time he returned the next day all of the copper was gone. Someone came in later that evening and stole all of the copper pipe.The builder told the plumber that it wouldn’t happen again, he was going to get a security fence installed later that day. The plumber purchased some more materials and almost finished installing everything, but there just wasn’t enough time in the day.The next day when the builder and the plumber arrived on the job site, not only was the copper plumbing pipes gone, but the entire security fence was no longer there. What the heck is going on… is this really that bad of a neighborhood, I can’t believe it.The builder was extremely upset and told the plumber that he needed to get the pipes in, so that he could pour the foundation and they wouldn’t have to worry about it again. The builder said that he would guarantee that the plumbing pipes wouldn’t be stolen again.The plumber went back to work and installed the copper pipes for a third time as he watched the builder install a new security fence. This time the builder wasn’t going to take any chances, he hired a security guard with two guard dogs.This ought to do it said the builder, let’s see what’s going to happen tonight. The builder felt pretty confident that nothing was going to happen, even though he didn’t like paying for these extra services.They arrived at the job site the next day, only to find out that the guard and his dogs weren’t on the property. Neither was the security fence or the copper plumbing pipe. It’s hard to imagine that something like this happened, but the builder ended up pulling the plug on the project and leaving the property like it was.If you’re new to the home building, things like these happen in some neighborhoods and you need to be aware of it. I’ve heard worse stories than these, so don’t expect every job to go as planned all the time.
Today’s modular housing, when built with modern technology by a quality manufacturer and finished on-site by a reputable, experienced builder, offers many advantages when compared to traditional on-site stick-building. However, most of our clients tend to ask very similar questions as they begin to understand the inherent advantages of modular home construction. This “question and answer” article is the first of two parts intended to help the consumer better understand the manufacturing process, the home component product and the finishing of the manufactured product on your building site. This is Part I, dealing with more of the aesthetic questions initially asked by clients. Part II will deal with more technically oriented questions.Q: What is modular home construction?A: It is the process of “stick-building” your home, in modular components, within a climate-controlled factory environment. The components are then set onto your foundation at your site and the home is then completed to traditional specifications, using traditional finishes.Q: What are the advantages to “stick-building” my home in a factory, versus having it “stick-built” at my site, in the traditional method?A: Homes stick-built within the factory are built better yet quicker than traditional on-site stick-built houses. The factory built components are manufactured with engineered cuts to insure square and true fit during the assembly process. During the factory construction process, neither the wood nor other components are subject to inclement weather, minimizing the warping and damage that can occur when site-built homes are left exposed during the “site-built” construction process. The final product is more energy efficient, stable and stronger!Q: Why are today’s modular homes built superior as compared to the traditional way of stick-building on site?A: As the old adage states “a picture says a thousand words”, so too does a tour of a high quality manufacturer’s factory explain the superiority of modern modular construction. Modular home construction is just as much stick-built as any site-built construction…only because it is built in a climate controlled factory, with exact, engineered, laser-precise cuts and with technicians working on ground level (not straddling a 2X4 or balancing from the peak of a roof), it is built better! The frame of a modular home will contain at least 20% and perhaps as much as 30% more lumber than a traditional site-built home, so it is much more stable and stronger than traditional housing.Q: Are modular homes restricted in architectural design or interior floor planning when compared to traditional housing?A: Today’s engineering and building technology allows clients a very high degree of architectural and interior floor planning options. If you are a very discriminating homeowner seeking to design and build a truly distinctive home, an experienced manufacturer and capable builder should be able to achieve designs to satisfy your demand utilizing modular building technology and highly engineered manufactured building components.Q: Are today’s modular homes built and finished with any different building and finish materials as compared to traditional housing?A: Both the exterior and interior of modular homes are usually built with the same components as you would expect to find in any conventional, site-built house, depending on the quality of the manufacturer, your builder and your finish selections. You should be able to customize your modular home with the same appointments expected to be found in a conventional custom-built home. If your manufacturer or builder either refuses to allow you those choices, or indicates it does not usually allow such choices, seek another manufacturer and/or builder!Q: Once a modular home is completed on my site, will I be able to distinguish it from a traditional site-built home?A: No! Due to advancements in technology and the manufacturing process, it is virtually impossible to distinguish a well-designed modular house from a traditional, stick-built, site-built house.Q: Is a modular home less costly to build than traditional, site-built housing?A: A manufacturer that builds at a fairly high volume level will buy its materials in bulk and will pay less than a single builder would pay at its local supplier. Also, the manufacturer’s local builder typically has less work to complete the home than a local custom home builder, so the builder should incur less overhead costs and, thus, can operate on a lower profit margin. As a result, you, the customer should anticipate a cost savings by building your home with modern modular components, as compared to traditional site-built construction.
Oh, the questions you have! You want to be a home-owner builder and manage the process yourself. For months you’ve dreamed, planned, and prepared and yet now that you’re ready to launch, something has you paralyzed. Where do you start? What have you missed in your planning? Who will answer all your questions?
In all my years as a home building coach, mentor, and consultant, the one thing that stands out the most is the fact that potential owner builders have delayed their dreams for so long. The biggest reason I’ve found for this is that people are fearful of what might lie ahead for them. It’s truly nerve-wracking.
Here are some of their fears. Do you share any of them?
What if there are things I don’t know that I don’t know?
What if I travel down the wrong path without being aware?
What is around the next corner that I can’t see?
What if I run out of money before I’m done?
What if a subcontractor does poor work or quits?
What if I can’t complete the project in time?
How do I find the best contractors and keep them?
What is the cost of the project?
How do I solve problems that may arise?
The list of questions can go on and on and you are now doubting your decision to be an owner builder. Faced with these dilemmas you consider going back to the idea of hiring a General Contractor … much to your dismay. Take heart, I have a solution.
The Easiest Decision an Owner Builder Can Make
There is one simple answer and here it is. Hire a Home Building Coach, period. That’s it. The truth is, without an experienced home building professional in your camp you’re at a distinct disadvantage. To keep your wits about yourself and for your ultimate success, you need all the advantages you can get.
Your coach will answer your questions. Your coach will guide you down the right paths. The home building coach help you maintain an even keel throughout all the ups and downs of a home building or remodeling project. Make the decision. It’s a no-brainer.