What are the Differences Between Modular Construction and Site-Built Homes?
As long as I have worked in the Asheville real estate market, one of the most common questions I have been asked is the difference between modular and “stick-built” construction. Or sometimes, buyers want to understand the differences between modular and mobile homes. The term “modular” is often associated with mobile homes, especially doublewide mobile homes. This can be the case, but it’s important to understand that there are 2 main types of modular homes, and they are not all “mobile.”
Off-Frame Modular Construction Homes vs. On-Frame Modular Homes
Off-frame modular homes are essentially the same as stick-built homes, in that they are built to North Carolina Building Codes. Most off-frame modular homes in the Asheville area are built with 2 x 6 walls, offering superior insulation compared to 2 x 4 walls. These homes are built in a factory, so the materials are not susceptible to damage from weather. And since weather is not a factor, off-frame modular homes can be built in 6 months or less.
Keep in mind that the home’s foundation will be built on-site, while the modular parts of the home are under construction in the factory. Many modular homes in Asheville are built on basements, and poured concrete walls are a popular choice.
On-frame modular homes are essentially mobile homes, and they are delivered to the site on a “frame.” These homes are built to HUD code (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). The frame is a metal chassis that allows for transportation of the home to the site. In most cases, these homes are placed on a permanent foundation, and there is no intent to move them again. A permanent foundation is required in order to obtain a mortgage on the home.
Do Off-Frame Modular Homes Appreciate in Value Like Site-Built Homes?
In my experience, a well-designed off-frame modular home can be just as visually appealing as a custom site-built home. From an appraisal standpoint, they are constructed similarly and should appreciate in value similarly. I have also never seen any difference in the lending process or obtaining insurance on modular homes.
Can an Off-Frame Modular Home be Customized?
Modular home plans can be customized. Most companies offer dozens of floor plans. Those plans can then be adjusted to accommodate the buyer’s desires. Once the plans are chosen, the buyer can work with the manufacturer to customize the finishes and details of the home. This includes the floors, cabinets, style of trim, window sashes, siding, colors, etc. For example, a common customization in the Asheville area is the addition of cedar shakes within the gables, creating a cratsman look.
Site-built features can be added to the home. For example, a detached or attached garage is usually built-on site after the home is placed. Decks can be added (or expanded from the original plans) on the site as well.