Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Modular Home

A modular building is a prefabricated building that consists of repeated sections called modules. Modularity involves constructing sections away from the building site, then delivering them to the intended site. The installation of the prefabricated sections is completed on-site.

The modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing for a variety of configurations and styles. After placement, the modules are joined together using inter-module connections, also known as inter-connections. The inter-connections tie the individual modules together to form the overall building structure.


When thinking about modular housing, many assume that the trend started in the 20th century, but it actually dates back much further. Modular construction has changed over the past three centuries and is still evolving.

The origins of modular buildings date back to the 1600s when a colonial American fisherman who had recently moved from England, wanted a home built with trusted English construction methods and the only solution to this was to have a disassembled house shipped across the Atlantic Ocean.

200 years later, when the United States expanded westward, modular construction began to make a more prominent appearance. During that time, more than 500 preassembled homes were built in factories in New York and then shipped across the country to California.

100 years after that, by the end of the 19th century, the demand for modular homes started trending upwards across the country where hundreds of thousands of modular homes been sold over the next few decades.

In 1913, after the development of the assembly line by Henry Ford, it became even easier to manufacture modular homes at a price that was affordable to more consumers. By the end of World War II, when the United States faced a housing crisis as soldiers returned home, modular construction offered quick, low-cost housing options to house a new generation of Americans.

21st Century

In the 21st Century, the tiny house boom has breathed new life into modular buildings. Once again, people are discovering how modular homes can be friendly for both the environment and their budget. Modular buildings have a smaller ecological footprint and can be built with durability and unique character. Today you can buy a modular house for much less than one built on-site, and you can customize nearly every aspect.

Benefits of choosing a modular home

Construction of prefabricated homes takes place in a controlled industrial setting. This can have several benefits that you will not get with traditional construction. Some of these benefits include;

No Delays

Prefabricated homes are much faster to build than on-site houses. Think about it! No delays because of weather, vandalized materials, or shortage of tools! You can start living in your prefabricated home, a few weeks after you design it!

Another common challenge with on-site construction is the issue of mold on timber. You can find molds in the floors and walls. Molds form on materials during transportation or storage stage. With modular homes, you can prevent mold formation. This is because construction takes place in a controlled environment.

Extensive design options

Modular homes give property owners many design options. Your contractor will give you unlimited plans for prefabricated homes to choose from. This gives you total control over your modular home’s floor plan. However, the design must abide by regional or state building codes.

Energy efficiency

This is the biggest advantage of choosing a modular home. Walls of a typical prefabricated home have an ideal thickness. This provides greater energy efficiency and more insulation, thus saving on heating costs.

Manufacturers can also insulate the modular home with more caulking. This means less air penetration and more energy efficiency. Moreover, since modular home construction takes place indoors, manufacturers use weather-resistance materials. This eliminates mold damage and drywall warping.

Quality construction

Unlike on-site construction, there is no shortage of tolls in modular home constructions. Indeed, custom tools like cranes and jigsaws are available in a factory setting. Sometimes, transporting such tools to the site is hard. Luckily, with prefabricated homes, you don’t have to transport them to the building site. It is also easy to perform the home inspection of a prefabricated home in-factory. The manufacturer can contact the inspector for approvals. After completion of the modular home, the inspector will issue a certificate. The certificate indicates that the prefabricated home complies with the building laws. You also have to pass another inspection after assembling the modules on-site.


Manufacturers use recycled materials to build modular homes. They also recycle any excess materials from the construction of modular homes. This reduces wastage of materials incurred during on-site construction.

People prefer modular homes since they provide cost and time savings but, every saving is not always a good decision.

Please remember that every project is unique and the following ‘mistakes’ are general. So, they might not apply to your project!

Costly mistakes to avoid when building a modular home

Mistake Number 1: Using basic energy-efficient options

Going green isn’t cheap. So, in an attempt to save cost when building your home, you skip energy-efficient options. Instead, you use that money on flooring or kitchen upgrades. Indeed, such upgrades will generally pay for themselves. This is because they increase your house value. You can make those upgrades after moving to your new home. But, we cannot the same for energy upgrades. For that, you should focus on energy upgrades.

Ceiling and wall insulation are important. It’s also a wise decision to ensure that your house has a house wrap. This adds another energy efficiency level. It also keeps moisture from reaching the wood frame.

Still think you can’t afford to go green with energy-efficient options? Let us talk numbers! Assume your bill for air conditioning during summer or heat during summer is $200 every month. While your energy-efficient options save you about 10%/ month. This means that you’ll save $20/month, which translates to $240/ year. If gas and oil prices go up within that period, you will even save more money. So, you’ll end up paying more money each year if you don’t upgrade your energy efficiency and insulation.

Mistake Number 2: Using a slab foundation instead of a basement

If the water table of the construction site is very high, this might not apply to your project. Most neighborhood homes across the nation have basements. Basements provide extra storage and living space. Instead of laying a slab foundation, it’s a smart decision to build a basement. Besides increasing your home space, basements make selling your house easier.

Mistake Number 3: Saving Landscaping cost

Before modules come to the building site, you have to clear the lot. Some people clear the smallest land possible. After all, it will be less costly to clear a small lot, right? Not to forget that you will spend less money to replace the bushes and trees or reseed your lawn. If you don’t clear the land well, it will be an issue. For instance, it will difficult for some crane operators to place the modules on-site. For some operators, this may not have a problem. Since they work around obstacles and trees without ruining the modules. One thing is for certain though; they will take more time!

How is that an issue, you ask? Well, cranes charge about $300 -$700/ hours. More crane time means that you’ll have to pay more money. Not to forget the overtime cost for the crew manning and assembling the modules.

That’s why you need to make an informed decision about landscaping costs. If you clear the lot well, it will be cheaper in the long run!

1 Comment
  1. You made an interesting point when you explained that a modular home is less expensive than traditional ones. I would think that this kind of property would be great for first-time homeowners and college students. A less expensive property would be ideal for those that are trying to save money but still want a nice place to live in.

Leave a Comment

Related Blogs