SO, YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT BUILDING A NEW HOME IN THE WINTER OR SPRING SEASON
Deciding to build a new home is no doubt exciting for the home buyer but, if you’re doing so in the winter or spring, it can also lead to months of waiting due to weather delays and other such concerns.
The weather in the northeast is often unpredictable and winters can drag on causing the home building process to linger.
No doubt you experienced the recent Polar Vortex that haunted the Midwest and northeast regions in late January, with temperatures dipping well below zero. Such weather patterns wreak havoc on building timelines and most homeowners hold back from starting new homes during this stretch of winter due to these adverse conditions.
But there is another method. Modular homes are an alternative to standard construction and are available year around.
Before proceeding, let’s take a minute or so to define exactly what we mean by a modular home, especially for those readers who are new to the concept.
A modular home is one that is built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are covered and moved to their new location, where they’re assembled by the builder. Each module usually comes fully outfitted with interior fittings – plumbing, electrical, doors, closets and stairs – so there’s little finishing work to be completed when the home is assembled. A modular home is not a mobile home; it’s simply a home that is built off-site, as opposed to on-site. These homes are often called factory-built, system-built or prefab homes.
Unlike manufactured or mobile homes, which must meet the federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, modular homes must be constructed according to state or local building codes. This makes them a widely-accepted form of new construction that isn’t subject to the same zoning restrictions that frequently limit the placement of manufactured and mobile homes.
In other words, modular homes must meet the same building codes as traditional “sticks and bricks” construction, so you can build a modular home practically anywhere.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE TYPICAL CHALLENGES WHEN PLANNING TO BUILD AN ON-SITE HOME IN THE WINTER OR SPRING.
Weather is the profound enemy of the homebuilder and the new construction home buyer. If you decide to build on site using outmoded building techniques, you’ll most likely be dealing with difficulties later on down the road.
For example, when moisture makes contact with untreated wood, it warps. This produces studs, joists and trusses that are not plumb and true, giving rise to crooked walls, floors and ceilings. If you know exactly what to look for, you’ll see it all the time in site-constructed homes.
An even bigger concern than warped wood is that four-letter word MOLD, which is a huge issue in winter and spring home building. Obviously, there are potential health repercussions, but there is also the fact that a typical mold remediation project runs around $2,000 to $6,000. If there is extensive structural damage, repair costs could total $10,000 to $30,000 or more.
There are also a number of job site challenges. On a cold-weather construction site, contractors will hurry to finish structural framing and roof construction before snow or freezing rain impacts the interior space. Workers must also hastily complete window and door installations for the same reason.
Inside, crews frequently need temporary kerosene-fueled heaters to stay warm while completing interior tasks such as plumbing and electrical work. Your roofing contractor will also find it trickier to install shingles in cold weather. Shingles can turn brittle and become harder to handle and often don’t seal well in such adverse conditions.
If foundations are not already poured before freezing temperatures, ground heaters must be used to warm the ground so the concrete can be poured. Concrete needs warmer temperatures to set up and could also require a special mix of additives to promote curing.
A winter or spring homebuilding project could also be derailed by a significant snowfall where you can face plowing and shoveling expenses just to get the crew to the building site. Large building supplies trucks may also find the wintry conditions too challenging to reach the site safely.
SO, TELL ME, WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF BUILDING A MODULAR HOME IN THE WINTER/SPRING SEASON?
NO WEATHER DELAYS OR DAMAGE
Modular homes are built in a climate-controlled environment using dry materials. Your home is weather-tight upon arrival at the site. However, custom modular homes are built to the same building codes as conventional site-built housing. Just as the materials are protected from the weather, so is the craftsperson who is building your home. Naturally, anyone would do a better job working indoors during the winter or early spring than if they were out in the elements trying to build a house. Far better!
SHORTER BUILD TIME
Fast construction is one of the hallmarks of modular homes. Because the parts of a modular home come pre-made, all you have to do is assemble them and hook up the home to the needed utilities. Hence, the name “modular.” The modular building goes up much quicker because it arrives to the jobsite about 80% complete. This means fewer days with laborers on site and less vulnerability to weather delays that can extend the construction process by days or weeks.
If you’re facing any possible time constraints whatsoever in transitioning from your existing home to a new place, a modular home could be something to consider just for the savings in time.
THERE’S ALSO LESS LABOR
During a traditional build, various groups of subcontractors (such as plumbers, electricians, painters and framers) all come out independently to do their prescribed work. This work is often held up or slowed down by the work of other contractors. When modules are built in-factory, the labor can be more effectively managed, so the work is done quickly and efficiently.
OUTSTANDING QUALITY CONTROL
Imagine if airplanes weren’t built with standard parts in factories by career technicians. Would you want to fly in that plane? Modular manufacturing is subject to the same rigorous quality control as other high-end manufacturing.
As noted, all major components of the home are built in a climate-controlled environment with a premium grade of lumber, creating less warping, shrinking, drywall cracks, nail popping, and mold-related issues in your finished home.
Since parts and homes are factory-made, there’s no worry that they’ll be subpar. The seals on roofs, for example, are done by a factory worker whose job it is to work on roofs all day. Because of this, he has all the tools, training and know-how to do his job perfectly every time.
Add to this state-of-the-art computerized equipment that’s used during the manufacturing process to identify potential design flaws prior to construction.
Even during the construction inside the factory, there are timely inspections by trained engineers to ensure top-notch quality of the finished product.
A “stick-built” home, on the other hand, is built from scratch on the land where it will sit. There have been times where a builder has been known to do a less than adequate job of keeping the lumber used in construction protected from the elements. Problems can occur form this kind of neglect but it’s usually only years down the road that the homebuilder finds out about it.
OKAY, WE’VE DESCRIBED SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF SELECTING A MODULAR HOME WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO BUILD IN THE WINTER/SPRING SEASON.
Fact is, there are a number of other such advantages to consider, no matter the time of year you’re going to build. Among these are:
Modular homes companies design your home to meet all State and National Building Codes. A third-party inspection agency inspects and approves as code compliant for the building department. The same third-party agency completes a thorough inspection of the home as it is being built in the factory to ensure code compliance. Once inspected, the third-party agency labels the home to show the local inspector that all approvals are in place, and the home is code compliant.
A modular home is laid on a firm foundation when it’s delivered to its final location. Once placed on the foundation, it’s securely attached so the home is safe in all types of severe weather conditions. A person who owns a modular home is as safe as the neighbor across the road who has a conventional “stick home.”
Get everything you want. A modular home can take on any style the homebuilder requests. The structure is built to order, including the pitch of the roof, the color of the carpeting and the type of walls.
Some homebuyers claim that choosing the modular home accessories is the most fun part of the experience.
SAFETY IS FUNDAMENTAL.
Often, since people confuse modular homes with manufactured homes, they believe that modular homes are shabbily built. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Modular homes are fabricated in a factory to even higher standards than most site-built homes. Each module has to withstand being lifted on to the back of a flatbed truck and being driven to the construction site, sometimes hundreds of miles away. Fact is, FEMA says that modular homes are more likely to be able to safely withstand hurricane level conditions.
In fact, FEMA has continually praised modular construction for sound workmanship dating all the way back to a report they issued in 1993 about Hurricane Andrew hitting Florida.
One particular New York state homebuilder points to his modular home on Long Island Sound that survived Hurricane Sandy when others around it were literally split in half.
Some people have the notion that modular homes are less expensive to build but cost more in the long run because of higher maintenance and upkeep costs. Modular homes actually cost significantly less to maintain because of the superior construction quality. Modular homes are less likely to experience costly maintenance issues because of more exact factory construction, the cost of heating and cooling the home is lower.
SO, WHY AREN’T ALL HOMES BUILT USING MODULAR CONSTRUCTION?
To a certain extent, they are. Cabinets, windows, roof trusses and door systems are no longer fabricated on site, but rather built off site at modern factories and delivered to the construction site.
These modular components have increased the quality, lowered the cost and accelerated the construction schedule for homebuilder everywhere. Some builders have begun to include larger components including panelized walls and pre-formed concrete foundations.
Full modular construction is simply the next logical step in this evolution.