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Modular Homes: Weighing the Pros and Cons


Modular homes, or homes built off site in a climate controlled environment and then transported to the destination, are the fastest growing segment of residential construction in the country. However, is a modular home better than a traditionally built house? Depending on your needs, it's possible. Here are a few pros and cons to weigh before deciding one way or the other.

Pro: Affordability

Because they are built in a factory, modular homes benefit from an assembly line process. You don't have to deal with several subcontractors doing sub par work with a high price tag, and you don't have to take bids as you would with a traditional home. Modular homes also have cutting edge engineering in their construction, which allows the home to be more energy-conscious, thus lowering energy bills. All of this translates into a home that passes the savings on to you, typically 10 to 20 percent cheaper than traditional construction.

Pro: Reduced Building Time 

Image via Flickr by Tiffa Day

Because you select all your home amenities before building a modular home, there's no guesswork or changes of heart involved. Also, due to a majority of the work being done indoors, weather is not a factor in completion time. Thus, the modular home is completed in a third of the time. Often, once you decide on your home, you move in approximately three to six weeks later. This allows for a limited transition time between your previous home and your new one. If time is of the essence, then a modular home is for you.

Con: Disaster Susceptibility

Unlike traditional homes, the materials used in modular homes are more susceptible to damage in the event of a disaster. Brick is almost never used in construction, which makes the home less durable to storms. They receive more damage in the event of a fire, and water damage from frozen pipes is more prevalent. This translates to a higher cost for insurance policies for modular homes, so shop around before making a purchase.

Con: Land Ownership

Because the home is built off-site, you need to have a piece of land to begin the final installation process. However, this is a pricey venture depending on location. Some lots in nice neighborhoods or large parcels of land in rural areas cost upwards of $100,000. If you include the price of the modular home construction and insurance premiums once the house is delivered, buying the land completely wipes out your effective cost savings. Therefore, it's important to find a cheap piece of land or already own the land before buying a modular home.

Buying a modular home is a great idea if you want a fully customizable home in a relatively short period of time. In addition, modular homes hold their value as much as home constructed on-site. Beware of the pitfalls of these homes however, especially if you are in an area that suffers from frequent natural disasters, such as wildfires or severe storms. Once you've weighed the risks, you'll be able to decide whether or not a modular home is for you.