What to expect from a modular home?

Does anyone have experience with buying/installing modular homes (note: I’m not talking about mobile/manufactured homes, but factory-built homes that are transported and assembled on site, and look very similar to site-built homes).

From what I can see, these are usually less expensive (maybe $30 per square foot cheaper) than a new site-built home.

I’m curious to know how the quality of a modular home compares to a site built home (for better or worse) and if there are any common “gotchas” that come up.

In my market, new construction makes absolutely no sense for a rental property, but if modular homes are substantially less expensive without sacrificing much in the way of quality, I’m wondering if this might be a sensible alternative worth pursuing.

I haven't done any myself, but I know some folks in the industry. Modular homes are actually built better than site-built homes, because they have to be in order to hold up while they're being transported down the road.

From what I've seen of them, they all seem a little boring in terms of their aesthetic appeal and floor plans. Nothing too fancy going on, but when it comes down to simple dollars and sense, I think they're always going to be less expensive than a new build on-site.

The question is, are there any rules against modular homes where you're trying to put it? They're technically built to code (if not exceeding the normal building codes in most areas), but that still doesn't answer the questions of whether a neighborhood has any restrictions that will prohibit a module home being placed there.

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I haven't dealt with them either but have looked into them a decent amount for rentals, etc like you Seth. Apparently in Texas they come out to almost the same sq ft costs because building traditional stick-builts (SB) is relatively cheap here. I've heard the pros of modular are the speed of the whole process and the quality of building. From a couple weeks to a month or so compared to 3-6 months with SB. Foundation construction is usually the big hold up. They do become real assets because they get afixed to the foundation just like SB. Also modulars are built in a climate controlled factory with no weather delays and high quality controls. And like Don mentioned, they have to withstand the journey to the jobsite. I hear they are more often used in remote settings where getting materials and construction equipment can be difficult/costly. All of this is my researched brain puke.


Thanks for chiming in @aflanagan! That’s a good point about them making sense in more remote locations. I actually noticed on Will Mitchell’s YouTube channel, apparently, there are a lot of these going into Belize right now.

@retipsterseth I’m not sure if this company works in your area, but they have a lot of cool floor plans including some multi family. Might be worth looking closer at, even if it’s just for the ideas.


@donyost good to know. Thanks for sharing!


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I actually lived in a modular duplex (as a renter) when I was in college.

I also worked on a few on these homes doing remodeling work as a contractor. They are built as good or better than any site built home... with the exception of the finishwork that tends to be lower end (about right for a rental though).

There is a double thickness wall down the center of the house where they seam them together on site, but most have layouts that hide this well. You also have the reassurance that nothing was exposed to weather- no rusted nails or wet plywood, during the builidng process.

As to cost, for most markets they are cheaper than site built, but they key is buying the lot and the type of foundation. If a person had cash and the infill lots, they could potentially put several of them up quickly and have them cash flowing fast.

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@retipsterseth I recently started a modular construction company for my own developments (I was tired of the wasted time and money of working with a GC on traditional stick-built projects). If modular building is still of interest I’d be happy to share my experience to date.

@awintheiser, I’m interested in learning more. When you say that you started a modular home construction company, do you mean that you “install” modular homes built by another company, or do you actually produce the modular homes offsite?

If it’s possible to answer, what kind of costs do you see typically for buying and installing a modular home, not including the land and assuming the utilities are already available at the site?

@dl7573 To answer the first question we’re full service so we have the industrial space where we build the modules, and then the team responsible for installation. Because we’re building our own designs and installing in rural areas we had to manage the whole process.

I’ll DM you with more details on the cost side of things.

@awintheiser Anthony - What market are you in? I have a vacant development lot in Northern CA. This may make sense and make it pencil as a spec or a built to suit project.

@sean-markey I’m in the midwest (Cincinnati, OH) so primarily looking around here for now. I’ll let you know if California becomes a state we want to look into. Thanks for reaching out!

@awintheiser Thanks. Have a Hudepohl (sp?) and a three way dog for me. Grew up a Reds fan and hour south of Toledo.

@sean-markey Nice. Here’s to hoping they have a winning season!