American Homeowners Association Membership  
American Homeowners Association



Save Money, Save Time with a Factory-Built Home

A decade ago the term "factory-built home" conjured up images of poorly constructed homes that looked exactly alike. The term has been changing over the past several years to indicate sturdy, well made houses. The most common types of factory-built homes today are modular homes and manufactured homes. Modular homes are built in a factory, in modules or segments, then transported to a building site where they are assembled into houses. Manufactured homes are houses that are ready to live in before they arrive on the site.

With the entrance of factory-built homes on the market, the cost and the time it takes to construct a house has been reduced. Of the factory-built houses, manufactured houses tend to be the most affordable. According to past Census statistics the average per-square foot cost of a manufactured house is $26.79, while a site-built home is $56.28. Modular housing costs are slightly less than a site-built home, as a cost is associated with transporting the modules from the factory to the job site. Proponents of modular houses cite the extra precautions taken to ensure the home travels well, (such as screwing dry wall to the frame, versus using nails, and using two to three more screws per stud to prevent slippage) make the home sturdier than a site-built home.

The price of lumber is always a major factor in home building costs, and less of it is used in the construction of a factory-made home. It's not that factory-made homes require less wood than their site-built cousins, but rather, the fact that panels are used to assemble the home, eliminating costly waste lumber. Labor costs to construct a modular home are also far less than a site-built home since they tend to be limited to a plumber, electrician and carpenter to do touch up work.

In addition to saving you money, constructing a factory-built home also saves you time. In site-built construction, all aspects of the house must wait for the foundation to be completed. A modular house can be built while the foundation is being laid. The foundation is generally completed in four to six weeks. Modules are about 95 percent complete when shipped to a building site. Once at the site, two or more sections 12 to 14 feet wide and up to 60 feet long are combined to create the finished building. Once the house is at the site it can be completed in four to eight weeks, whereas a site-built home takes a minimum of six months.

Factory-built homes are no longer cookie cutter images of each other that were so common years ago. They come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of customizations. At one time choosing custom features on a factory-built home was expensive for the buyer. Manufacturers had to employ draftsmen to customize the houses, which was expensive, so manufacturers charged high rates to customize a home. With today's computer technology, manufacturers can easily change aspects of a house based on customers' wishes at little or no cost.

Whether modular or manufactured, factory-built homes have helped to bring down the cost and the time required to build a home. As technology continues to improve, increased improvements will no doubt be seen in the home building arena.

Sources: Alan J. Heavens, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Sue Anne Pressley, The Washington Post.

Copyright © 2001, AHA, the American Homeowners Association, Stamford, Connecticut, USA All Rights Reserved.