Archive for the ‘Modular Construction’ Category

Developing with Modular – 12-Point Checklist to Maximize Your Profits

March 31, 2008

Developing with ModularOne 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Click Here to see a 2-minute modular home set in action.

The Advantages of Modular Construction – #5

February 19, 2008

Building Better – The Modern Modular Image

Until recently, the modular industry as a whole has experienced mild resistance because of a lack of education on the process and the product. Many confused this construction method with trailers, mobile homes or manufactured homes. And, truthfully, many in the industry did not help this image by using the term “modular” to market an unattractive, boxy home that looked much like a trailer. Many referred to this as a “HUD-ular.” Not surprisingly, a homeowner or builder planning to build a modular home in a neighborhood could often expect to be met with active protests from members of the community or the planning or architectural committees.

However, in the last few years, much has been done to educate the public about the capabilities of modern modular housing and remove the stigma that had attached itself to the industry. Primarily, the work of talented architects to develop unique and appealing exterior elevations for modular homes that make them virtually indistinguishable from site built. Since 2003, Tony Lucas, Palm Harbor’s own designer, has been putting his years of modular experience to work with builders and developers across the country to create exterior applications and floor plans that are designed specifically for that region, land type, usage and customer lifestyle. As the industry grows, the role of architects will be vital to its maturation and public acceptance as a mainstream home building method.

BiminiPublic displays in large venues such as the International Builders’ Show have also played an important role in exposing the public and homebuilders to the myriad of applications for modular construction in all types of residential and commercial construction. Features such as elevators, gourmet kitchens, luxury master suites and media rooms are commonplace. In addition, modular construction is adaptable to multi-family construction, reducing the cost per square foot, which is particularly appealing for cities, community planners and developers charged with creating much-needed work force housing.

Today, more and more cities, states, zoning boards and building officials are fluent in the aspect of modern modular construction. In fact, many municipalities look forward to working with modular because of the decreased construction time, decreased impact on the surrounding areas of the community and the increased strength and quality of the product.

Modern modular construction provides increased building efficiencies, decreased construction costs and renewable resources. As developers and architects continue to work with modular builders, the industry will continue to expand its capabilities and, consequently, continue to “improve its image.” This will permanently erase the last remaining areas of resistance due to a perceived lack of quality or architectural appeal and establish modular construction as the modern version of “traditional construction.”

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Click Here to send us a question about modular construction or tell us about your next project.

The Advantages of Modular Construction – #4

February 12, 2008

Building Better – By Design

Apalachicola, FLImproved exterior design and interior space are the primary factors to the broader appeal of modulars. With proper architectural consulting, modular construction can be virtually undifferentiated from on-site construction. This adaptability, combined with its affordability, makes modular construction ideally suited for most projects – single family, multi-family, urban in-fill, resort, commercial or workforce housing.

Like traditional stick-built multi-family units, modular multi-family can be up to three stories high without incorporating steel supports. The assembly-line production of factory-built units is particularly well-suited to the narrow, deep units needed for multi-family construction. Similar to single-family housing, multi-family is made by vertically or horizontally stacking the modules. Even the shafts for elevators can be built before the modules are delivered. Because of the savings, code-mandated items such as sprinklers, fire walls and smoke detectors are often installed in the factory and connected between sections on site.

Tony LucasHistorically, some have objected to the use of modular construction in urban areas because of its reputation for having a bland, “box-like” exterior appearance. However, working closely with an experienced architect or designer like Palm Harbor’s own Tony Lucas to execute appropriate exterior cues and interior space configuration produces modular homes that blend well with existing construction styles or even conform to mandates from historical societies. As an architect, Tony’s 30 plus years of working with modular construction allow him to work one-on-one with developers to customize floor plans and elevations for their project. These plans and elevations reflect the spirit of the region and support the living patterns of the targeted homeowner. This careful collaboration between an experienced modular architect and builder with the developer is essential to an attractive, successful modular development.

See a few more of Tony’s designs on and the Bimini and the Glenn Cairn shown at the IBS 2008 show.

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Click Here to send us a question about modular construction or tell us about your next project.

The Advantages of Modular Construction – #3

February 11, 2008

Building Better – In a Controlled Building Center

a traditional construction site soaked in rain

Exposed, rain soaked building sites are common occurances nationwide. And the resulting loss of materials from theft, damage to the exposed areas of the home and the cosmetic coverups that follow are just a few of the many risks that are considered “normal” in new home construction. Consequently, one of the aspects of modular construction that is highly appealing to individual homebuyers as well as developers is that it removes these “normal” risks from the home building process.

an environmentally controlled modular building centerModular construction takes place in an environmentally controlled building center. This translates into fewer mistakes, fewer accidents, the elimination of materials theft, provides protection of all materials from the elements and increased recycling. In addition, the actual construction teams benefit by working each day in a clean, climate controlled building. The result is exactly what builders and developers are looking for: more predictable product quality and delivery schedule. Because materials are never exposed to rain and snow, the modular construction process also protects from “sick building syndrome” that can result from toxic mold.

Modules must be transported to the final home site; therefore, they must be built much sturdier, using about 30% more materials than typical site-built construction. In turn, this construction method results in a tighter, more energy efficient home. With the increased demand for “green construction” and “sustainability,” Palm Harbor’s thirty plus years of building experience allows them to work with builders to reach the desired level of “green” qualification required for each development. The modular delivery and set process is also much more environmentally friendly than traditional construction. It creates minimal construction site impact and virtually eliminates site construction waste with a heavy recycling process in the building centers. And the reduction of subcontractors and the shorter building cycle greatly reduces noise pollution and traffic.

Click Here to send us a question about modular construction or tell us about your next project.

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The Advantages of Modular Construction – #2

February 5, 2008

Building Better – Faster For Less Money

Modular Construction

For centuries, traditional stick-built construction has followed the same timeline. First, the site preparation must take place. Then the foundation must be finished. And finally, the actual structural construction can begin. Materials must be ordered and delivered in stages because safe storage space is non-existent. And if the assembly is delayed by weather or lack of labor, then the schedules can be delayed even further. There are no shortcuts. One phase must be completed before another can begin. This typical step-by-step construction formula stretches out both the completion timeline as well as the loan draw process.

Modular construction, however, provides a new chapter in the history of construction and development. Because the modules are built off site in environmentally controlled building centers, the site construction and homebuilding take place simultaneously, reducing the completion time line by up to 30 percent. Areas such as Florida and the post-Katrina reconstruction zone, which are experiencing the high cost and short supply of labor and materials for on-site rebuilding, find that modular construction provides even more cost savings for them.

Modular housing’s rising popularity has increased the number of mainstream lenders looking to partner with modular builders. Banks and lending institutions recognize the value and benefits of modular construction, offering identical rates, terms and loan approval criteria for modular construction that they provide for stick-built. With traditional construction, the loan disbursements take place as each major phase of construction is finished. In contrast, the process has been refined for the speed of modular construction, significantly reducing the number of draws required from start to completion. Because of the shorter construction cycle and reduced inspections and draws, the total costs of modular construction loans are typically less.

Click Here to send us a question about modular construction or tell us about your next project.

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The Advantages of Modular Construction – #1

February 4, 2008

Building Better – Strength and Quality Control

Modular Construction

For builders and developers, time and money are the most important factors to manage on any project. Every day a builder or developer can shave off the completion timeline saves money. Consequently, the unique ability of modular construction to drastically reduce the overall length of the construction process translates into significantly increased profits.

Until recently, many did not see modular construction as a viable option for commercial construction or residential developments of singular and multi-family projects. Homes built in factories have long been associated with “trailers” or mobile homes and, more recently, with manufactured homes. However, unlike manufactured homes which are constructed in strict accordance with the Federal HUD code of 1976 and inspected by third-party inspectors, modular homes are built using modules or boxes designed and constructed to local and state building codes. They are inspected by both an independent third party inspection agency during construction as well as the same local building inspectors that certify traditional stick-built construction.

Sometimes referred to as “off-site site built construction,” modular homes are typically completed to approximately 80% in environmentally controlled building centers. Then the factory-built modules or boxes are transported on trucks to the final construction site. Once they are on site, the modules are typically crane-lifted to their permanent foundations, which can be stem-walls, basements and even elevated stilts. Click here to view our 2-minute video of a 2-story home set.

By their nature of being transported (sometimes hundreds of miles) and then lifted through the air into place, these modules must be stronger and more securely constructed to withstand the strains of this movement. Local codes such as the Uniform Building Code (UBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) are much more stringent than the Federal HUD code. Consequently, the additional strength and more stringent construction requirements mean that modular construction provides a stronger, higher quality home than either traditional site-built or manufactured home construction.

Click Here to send us a question about modular construction or tell us about your next project.

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Here Comes the Katherine

January 12, 2008

See a factory-built 2-story modular home set in one day in this two minute video below. The home in the video is the Katherine model by our Discovery Custom Homes’ Designer Series, 2,368 sq. ft., with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths.

Factory-Built Homes Provide a Green Alternative

December 18, 2007

Read the full article on Market Wire (Dec. 17, 2007).
[SOURCE: Michigan Manufactured Housing Association]

Michigan Manufactured Housing Association member Palm Harbor Homes has made strides to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the construction…