One of the biggest opportunities for maximizing profits in any modular project is the transition from dealer to builder. Without proper planning and coordination, unexpected delays and cost overruns can soak up vital profits on any project. This is especially important in the set. This checklist will help keep your next set on-schedule to keep your costs down.
- Establish a master schedule – Maintain a master schedule with every detail of the project and share it with everyone involved to clearly communicate all expectations and keep everyone on the same page. Subcontractors and inspectors must show up in the right order at the right time. This can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet or using one of many project management software tools that have been created for just such development projects.
- Communicate in advance with your building inspector – Although modular homes are built to the IRC and set to the manufacturer’s instructions, advance conversations with your building inspector will make you aware of any particular preferences your inspector may focus on. Knowing these in advance will help you to be prepared and avoid costly delays.
- Know your transport route – Drive your delivery route looking for complications such as unexpected u-turns, road construction, narrow lanes and even low-hanging limbs. Be sure to communicate these ahead of time with your transport crew. Also, discuss delivery times if commuter traffic may be an issue.
- Check your site again after a rain – Soft ground may prevent the crane and modules from delivering. If necessary, consider the cost of purchasing a load of rock, which will probably be less than having to stop or reschedule the delivery and crane set.
- Create a set map for your site – Every site is different. Plan in advance for the delivery location of the crane and modules to allow for easy access. Some lots are tight and the equipment and modules are large. Preplanning can save costly crane time and moving on your set date.
- Plan for a bulldozer or front-end loader – Once the modules are delivered and removed from the toters, this will be necessary to move the modules around the site.
- Check with your manufacturer for ship loose items – Modular homebuilders supply many materials with their homes, but do not assume that they are all the same. Paint, drywall compound, hardware and appliances are all commonly included items. It is a simple matter to confirm with the builder exactly what items will and will not be supplied with the home. These can add up quickly.
- Keep your eye on the clock – At $300 an hour or more, crane time is money. Forgetting to install the sill plate can become a very costly delay at that price.
- Become your crane operator’s buddy – For the price of dinner, he may be willing to drop by your site in advance and share some insight on how to make your set day go smoothly.
- Be on site the first day – Even with an experienced set crew and preplanning, the most important (and expensive) questions will still come up on the first day of the set. Wrong answers cost time and money.
- Check and recheck for a level foundation – Proper tools like laser or optical levels are essential to insuring a perfectly level foundation. Built to 1/8” tolerances, modular homes require an exacting foundation. And it is very difficult to make on-site adjustments for an unlevel foundation.
- Remember that water damage kills profits – No set day is over until the home is secure and watertight. Have plenty of tarps on hand to protect your home from the rain if that is not possible.
Every experienced modular builder and developer will agree that a quality set done with few delays is the key to keeping profit in your pocket. Preplanning and communication are the basis for every great set and this checklist will help to keep your project on track.
If you have suggestions to add to this list, please post a response below so we can all learn from your experience.
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