Modular Home Checklists

There are many things to learn the first time you build a modular home.  But if you’re like most homebuyers, you won’t get the full benefit of what you learn, since you’ll likely only build one home.

But you can benefit from what I’ve learned over twenty-eight years building more than 1,200 homes.  To start with you can read my book, The Modular Home, which gathers all this information in one place.

Use these modular home checklists to guide you through the process of building a modular home.
Use these modular home checklists to guide you through the process of building a modular home.

Take Advantage of My Experience by Using My Modular Home Checklists

Of course, it’s hard to use a book efficiently the first time you use the information.  That’s why I’ve created several checklists that cover the most important steps.  Below is a link to each of the checklists.  There’s also a link to this list on the home page of The Home Store’s website.  I hope you find these modular home checklists helpful.

  1. Ensure You Are Ready Willing and Able to Build a Modular Home
  2. Selecting a Modular Home Dealer
  3. Your Modular Home Dealer Customer References
  4. Selecting a Modular Home General Contractor
  5. Your Modular Home General Contractor References
  6. What to Include in Your Modular Home Legalese
  7. Selecting the Right Modular Home Plan
  8. What You Should Ask Modular Home General Contractors
  9. Reviewing Your Modular Home Floor Plans
  10. Reviewing Your Modular Home Elevation Plans
  11. Modular Additions
  12. Building a Universal Design Modular Home
  13. What Your Modular Manufacturer Needs from Your Contractor
  14. How to Air Seal a Modular Home
  15. Making an Offer To Purchase for a Building Lot
  16. Your Municipal Water and Sewer Connections
  17. Reviewing Your Modular Construction Drawings
  18. Potential Permits and Supporting Documents
  19. Your Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks
  20. Your Permit and General Contracting Tasks
  21. Omitting Materials from the Modular Manufacturer

For more information about all the topics covered in the checklists, see my book The Modular Home.

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Pouring a Concrete Foundation in the Winter

Homebuyers are often concerned about having their concrete foundation poured in the winter.  They fear the cold will damage the concrete.  If they fall behind schedule with their modular planning and design, and this makes it impossible for their contractor to pour the foundation before winter, they tell him to delay the start until spring.  Of course that’s when lots of people want their home built.  This is one reason why spring projects often take longer than late summer and fall projects.

You Can Safely Pour a Concrete Foundation in the Winter

Actually there are safe, effective ways to pour a concrete foundation in cold weather.  They all begin with protecting the ground beneath the foundation from frost, snow, and ice.  This is done before winter begins by covering the ground with hay and covering the hay with tarps or plastic sheets.

The next steps are done by the concrete and foundation companies.  Their responsibility is to prepare the concrete foundation so it’s suitable for your site’s weather conditions, primarily cold temperatures.  They accomplish this by raising the temperature of the water and adding more cement to the mix.  They also control the amount of air entrapped and entrained in the concrete.  In addition, they add accelerators to speed up the curing process.

After the concrete foundation is poured, the chemical reaction created by the accelerant generates heat in the concrete.  The heat helps the concrete to cure before it freezes.  But this only works if the heat is retained.  This is done, first, by leaving the wood cement forms in place for several days; they can be removed the next day during warmer temperatures.  In addition, the cement and forms are covered with insulating blankets, which also reduce moisture loss.  Finally, if the temperature is too cold, a heater and enclosure are used to maintain temperatures above freezing.

Knowing that you can safely pour a cement foundation in the winter rather than waiting for spring allows you to take advantage of what is usually a slower time for your builder.  This in turn enables you to move into your new home in the spring.

Stick building in the winter subjects a home to ice and snow.
Stick building in the winter subjects a home to ice and snow.

Build a Modular Home to Protect Your Home from Inclement Weather

Building in the winter is a particularly viable option when building a modular home, since the modules are built in a climate controlled factory.  When the modules arrive on site and are placed on the foundation, they are already “closed in” from the inclement winter weather.  So while you can safely pour a concrete foundation in the winter, the only way to build your home protected from the snow, ice, and rain is to build a modular home.

Building in the winter is a particularly viable option when building a modular home, since the modules are built in a climate controlled factory.
Building in the winter is a particularly viable option when building a modular home, since the modules are built in a climate controlled factory.

For more information about pouring a concrete foundation in cold temperatures, see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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How Long to Build a Modular Home

How long does it take to build a modular home?

It depends on what you mean.

For example, is the start date when you sit down with a modular home builder to complete an estimate or when you order a home?  Is the home “built” when the factory delivers it or when the general contracting work is completed?  Are you ready to move forward now or are just now beginning your shopping?  Will your home be small or big?  Will it be a standard or customized design?  Will it have mostly standard features or lots of upgrades?

Here’s an answer that breaks up the timeline into eight steps.

(1)   How long will it take for you to be ready to order a home starting from today?

1 to 12 weeks (assuming you are ready to meet with a modular home builder to complete an estimate).

It will take longer if you have not decided on the exact modular home floor plan and specifications.

A modular manufacturer's construction drawings of the first floor of a two-story home with notes
The modular manufacturer’s preliminary drawing of a homebuyer’s first floor of a two-story modular home.

(2)  How long after you order your home until you receive the first set of preliminary plans?

1 to 3 weeks.

It will go faster if the modular home builder and modular manufacturer are not too busy and if your modular home plans are simple with no custom details or special engineering.

It will go faster if you mostly select standard specifications and published factory options.

(3)  How long after you receive your first set of preliminary plans until you receive a revised set of preliminary plans that incorporate your changes?

1 to 3 weeks.

It will go faster if you select mostly standard specifications and published factory options.

It will go faster if the modular home builder and modular manufacturer are not too busy and your plans are simple with few changes.

It will take longer if you take more than a week approving your preliminary plans.

(4)  How long after you receive your second set of preliminary plans until you receive your permit plans?

3 to 15 weeks.

It will go faster if your modular home plans are simple with few changes.

It will go faster if you select mostly standard specifications and published factory options.

It will go faster if the modular home builder, modular manufacturer, and third party inspection company are not too busy.

It will take longer if you take more than a week approving your second set of preliminary plans of if you require a third or fourth draft of plans.

(5)  How long after you receive your permit plans until your building permit is issued and loan closed?

1 to 6 weeks.

It will go faster if your town’s building department is not too busy and if you’ve applied for your loan several weeks earlier.

It will take longer if your lender requires a building permit, since the closing cannot happen until after the permit is obtained.

An example of the first two pages of a building permit application
Click Here to See an Example of a Building Permits Application.

(6)  How long after you receive your building permit and close on your loan until you authorize us in writing to have the manufacturer begin construction?

1 week or less.

It can go as fast or slow as you wish it to go.

(7)   How long after you authorize us to instruct the manufacturer to build your home until the delivery and set of your home is completed?

6 to 18 weeks.

It will go faster if there are no special order materials with long lead times.

It will take longer if the modular manufacturer has a production backlog.

Modular general contractor turnkey tasks before home is delivered
Modular general contractor turnkey tasks before home is delivered

(8)  How long after your home is delivered and set until you receive your certificate of occupancy and can move in?

6 to 25 weeks.

It will go faster if your modular home is smaller, with few site-built structures and little on-site customization.

It will go faster if the modular home builder is not too busy.

It will take longer if there are unforeseen delays due to bad weather, utility company and building inspector schedules, material backorders, changes in the scope of work requested by you, etc.

It will take longer when the turnkey is substantially more involved than the “typical” project.  This happens, for example, when the modular home is bigger and/or it requires more button-up work, as is true of a chalet cape and a six module two-story or when all of the finished flooring – for example, hardwood, tile, and laminate flooring – is done on site.  Additional time is also needed when the GC has to build one or more structures on site, such as mudroom and family room.  The completion time will also lengthen if the GC has to finish a basement or the second story of a cape.

Modular general contractor turnkey tasks after home is set
Modular general contractor turnkey tasks after home is set

This gives a total range of 20 to 83 weeks.

Our experience is that most homebuyers take between 26 and 40 weeks (6 to 9 months) to complete all of the steps required to build a modular home.  Most homebuyers lead lives that are so busy that they don’t have the time (or energy) to go faster.

What should you take from this?

There are many more things that will slow you down than will help you go faster.  If you hope to move in to your modular home next summer, I strongly advise that you begin working on the first step now.

For more information about how long it takes to build a modular home, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Building in the Winter

Protect the Ground When Building in the Winter

If you are building in the winter months in a region that requires protection against frost and snow, your general contractor should take some steps to reduce the impact of his work. He should blanket the areas he will be excavating before the work begins to minimize frost penetration. This might be done, for example, by covering the ground with hay. The excavated areas should stay blanketed until they are backfilled.

There are several extra steps to take when building in the winter.
There are several extra steps to take when building in the winter.

Keep the Access to Your Property Clear When Building in the Winter

The access to your site must be kept free of snow and ice. Even though bulldozers can move mountains, their tracks will just spin if they attempt to pull any substantial weight on ice. All snow and icy areas, even small light patches, must be plowed and sanded just prior to delivery. If it snows after the foundation is poured but before the home is set, the GC should remove as much of the snow as possible from the basement before the set. This is often easier said than done, however, and sometimes it’s impractical, especially when the slab has not already been poured.

You and your GC will need an agreement about who is responsible for snow plowing, shoveling, and sanding while your home is under construction. Since neither of you will know what the winter will bring in any given year, an allowance, with a reasonable rate per snowfall or per hour, is a fair way to handle it.

If your home will be delivered in the winter, try to have the foundation installed in the fall. The GC should then protect the foundation from the frost.

Take Precautions Pouring the Concrete Floor When Building in the Winter

When building in the winter in a cold climate, the GC should try to pour the floor before the temperature drops below freezing, as long as he can also protect it from the frost. If this cannot be accomplished, and the floor will be poured after the house is set on the foundation, the area must be covered with hay or in some other way protected from freezing immediately after the hole is dug. Any frost that remains after the house is set must be removed by heating the basement before the foundation floor is poured. Otherwise, the floor may crack substantially. If extensive frost or snow must be removed by heating the basement after the house is set, extra caution should be taken to prevent the house from absorbing the moisture.

Get the Heat Going When Building in the Winter

Contractors are less productive when they are cold, and many construction tasks, such as taping and painting drywall, cannot be done until a home is reasonably warm. Consequently, if you are building in the winter, the GC will need to get the heating system up and running quickly. He will be delayed, however, if the heating system is going in the basement and the slab cannot be poured because of frost. The installation will also be delayed if the electrical power is not immediately available. In these circumstances, the GC will need to supply temporary heat, which is more costly and less effective.

If you live in a climate with cold winters, you may want the contractor to add antifreeze to the heat loop. You should do this if you are away from home in the winter or if you have a drive-under garage, since leaving the door open on a cold day can cause the pipes to freeze.

If you are building during the spring, find out whether your community allows heavy equipment to travel on the roads during the spring thaw.

For more about building in the winter, see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Portable Toilet

This is a short but very important blog, especially in the minds of those who work on your modular home. Actually, it should be quite important to you as well.

A Portable Toilet is More than a Convenience

Like everyone else, contractors are most productive when they can conveniently use a bathroom. If they have to make a trip to the gas station or a restaurant, it costs time; and if they do not make the trip, they may be tempted to relieve themselves on your property. Eliminate this problem by renting a portable toilet until the plumbing is hooked up in your home. Then give the workers permission to use your bathrooms.

A portable toilet on site is not a luxury, but a necessity for everyone who works on your modular home.
A portable toilet on site is not a luxury, but a necessity for everyone who works on your modular home.

Don’t Wait To Place a Portable Toilet on Your Property

Your general contractor shouldn’t wait until after the set to put a portable toilet on your property.  Unless it will impede the movement of the crane and modules, the contractor should have it in place for set day. Not only will your general contractor and the set and crane crews benefit, so will your friends and family.

For more information about having a portable toilet on site, see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home and Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Multitask Your Preconstruction Tasks – Really!!!

These days most of us are forced to tackle multiple tasks at once both at work and home.  The fact that the demands on our time and energy are so stressful is bad enough, but the evidence is that we aren’t even getting much for our efforts, since multitasking is often unproductive. So it might surprise you when I suggest you’ll need to multitask  your “preconstruction tasks” when planning to build a modular home – if you are to build it on schedule.

Work on Several of Your Preconstruction Tasks at the Same Time

Actually, I’m not advocating multitasking. What I’m encouraging you to do is to work on a few of your preconstruction tasks at the same time.  For a little background about how many preconstruction tasks you’ll need to complete before your modular home is delivered, see these three posts:  Your Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks, Your Permit and General Contracting Tasks, and Other Preconstruction Tasks.

As you might imagine, if you do each of the preconstruction tasks one at a time – that is, sequentially, it’s going to take you a lot longer than if you do a few of them at the same time – that is, concurrently.  This doesn’t mean you literally should work on several preconstruction tasks at the same moment or even the same day, which is what you do when you multitask.  But it does mean you should get the ball rolling with as many tasks as you can so all of the balls are rolling forward together a little each day.  This is especially important because many of the preconstruction tasks take several weeks and much of the work done during this time is being done by others.

For example, here’s how long it typically takes to do each of the following:

Receive, review, and revise 2 drafts of plans and 1 set of permit plans from the factory – 8 weeks

Obtain an engineered and approved septic design – 4 weeks

Close on a construction loan – 6 weeks

Obtain all signatures required to apply for a building permit– 2 weeks

Starting Your Preconstruction Tasks Won’t Take a Lot of Your Time

Keep in mind that starting each of these preconstruction tasks will take comparatively little of your time even though it will take weeks for others to complete them. For example, the engineer will take several days to design your septic system, and the town will take a couple of weeks to approve the design.  So although it will only take you a few hours to locate and hire the engineer, you will add four weeks to your schedule if you don’t start this preconstruction task until you’ve received your financing and permit plans.

The Consequences of Completing Your Preconstruction Tasks One at a Time

Now imagine you wait to start each of the four tasks until another one is completed.  In that case, it will likely take 20 weeks to get through them all.  But if you start all of them within a couple of weeks of signing a contract with your modular dealer, you can be done in as little as 8 weeks.

I’m not advocating that you sign a contract before you have received a preapproval from your lender. But once you have the preapproval, I recommend that you move ahead with your other responsibilities.  If you do not, you are likely to fall behind your own schedule by weeks, and more likely by months.

For more information about scheduling the construction of your home, see  Selecting a Modular Home Dealer, Selecting a General Contractor, and Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Good Cheap or Fast

If you’re like me when shopping for a big item – such as a car, TV, or house – you want the best combination of quality, delivery time, and price. Too bad it’s impossible to maximize all three at the same time, especially when building a home. A builder can build your home with good quality and service. He can also build it fast. And he can even build it cheap. But he can only do 2 of the 3. You’ll have to choose which two are most important to you. Here’s why!

Fast and Cheap

If you want your builder to build your home fast and cheap, his quality and service won’t be as good.  First, he can’t deliver good quality without receiving enough money to pay for the better materials.  Second, he can’t deliver good quality or service without enough money to pay himself as well as his employees and subcontractors for the “extra” time required to properly plan his work and complete his tasks with better craftsmanship.

Fast and Good

Your builder can also build your home fast and with good quality and service.  But he won’t build it as inexpensively as he could, since he’ll need to apply more resources to the project – all at the same time.  Unfortunately this is not the most efficient way to build a home.  Also, it might require overtime pay for his employees.  In addition, your builder will need to convince his other customers to accept delays on their projects, which might cost him some financial concessions.  Worse, if he makes his other customers unhappy, it might cost him his reputation.

Good and Cheap

Your builder can also build your home cheap (“affordable”) and with good quality and service.  But it’s going to take him longer because the only way he can keep his price down is to give priority to his other customers who are not getting your steep discount.  So he’ll squeeze you in as time allows.

You Choose: Good Cheap or Fast

When building a home, your builder can only give you two of these three: Good Cheap or Fast.
When building a home, your builder can only give you two of these three: Good Cheap or Fast.

Which two are most important to you?  If you talk to people who’ve built a home in the past, they’ll say you get what you pay for.  They’ll also mention that if you get it wrong, you’ll regret it for many years to come.  After all, you’re more likely to forget how fast and cheap your home was built than how well it was built.

By the way, if you Google “Good Cheap or Fast”, you’ll find many articles about how this point applies across a wide range of industries.  You can make tradeoffs between good cheap and fast to give you some of each.  But t you can’t have it all.

For more information about deciding between building a home Good Cheap or Fast see Selecting a Modular Home Dealer, Selecting a General Contractor, and Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Preconstruction Tasks and Your Construction Schedule

The previous two posts listed the tasks that must be completed before your modular home can be delivered and set on its foundation. This post will discuss how long it takes to complete all of these preconstruction tasks.

How Preconstruction Tasks Affect Your Move-In Date

Most people building a new home are prepared for the construction to take longer than planned. They have heard that subcontractors, inclement weather, utility companies, and inspection officials all contribute to delays. Few people, however, anticipate how long it takes to complete those tasks that must be done before they begin construction. Consequently, they budget too little time for these preconstruction tasks and then try to compensate by skipping some tasks and rushing through others. When this strategy fails, they miss their desired move-in date and pay for it with stress with their family, conflict with their dealer and GC, and cost overruns with their budget.

How Long It Takes to Complete Preconstruction Tasks

It can take you as little as five weeks or as much as a year or more to complete all of the preconstruction tasks listed in the previous two blog posts. But all of them must be done before your modular home is delivered and set on its foundation. Your responsibilities can take as little as one day, if you order a standard modular plan with no changes, select only standard features, agree all decisions are final, have cash to pay for everything, have a GC lined up and ready to go, and have a building permit in hand or don’t need one. If this is true for you, you will be an exception.

More likely, you will want to customize your modular and GC drawings and specifications, require some time to consider your decisions, and need to wait for the lender to approve your loan and the building department to issue your permit. You may even want to revise your drawings and specifications two or more times. Consequently, you will likely need several weeks before you are done with your preconstruction responsibilities.

Even if you are able to make final decisions about your drawings and specifications in one week, the manufacturer cannot build your home, and you do not want the manufacturer to build your home, until you have obtained a building permit and secured financing. These preconstruction tasks can take a couple of months. Closing on a construction loan often takes six to eight weeks, completing the preliminary steps required to apply for a building permit can sometimes take several weeks, and receiving a building permit after submitting the application can take up to 30 days. One of the most important variables affecting whether you will be done on time is how quickly you begin your efforts. If you wait two weeks, you will not be able to make up the time by asking your dealer, GC, lender, or building department to work faster.

Other Preconstruction Tasks

The start of your schedule will also be extended if you have not completed all of the following preconstruction tasks before you order your home, if you need them done:

  • Secured a building lot or will purchase one immediately
  • Surveyed your building lot
  • Resolved any deed and zoning issues with your building lot
  • Resolved any wetland issues with your building lot
  • Obtained a valid perc test and at least applied for a engineered septic design
  • Selected a GC and/or subcontractors
A for sale sign on an undeveloped building lot
Finding the right building lot can take more time than you expect.

Once you complete your preconstruction responsibilities, the manufacturer will need a minimum of five weeks to complete its tasks. The manufacturer typically requires at least three weeks to complete your production drawings and order your materials, one week to build your home, and one week to get it ready for shipment – for a total of five weeks from the date you are ready. It does not matter whether you complete your responsibilities in one day or one year, the typical manufacturer still needs a minimum of five weeks. Furthermore, if you select materials that need to be “special ordered” or are “back-ordered”, the manufacturer will need even more time. And if the manufacturer has strong sales, its backlog of orders can add several weeks to its schedule and your delivery date.

For a detailed schedule of when all of your preconstruction tasks must be completed as well as each player’s responsibility for completing each of these tasks, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Your Permit and General Contracting Tasks

Your Preconstruction Permit and General Contracting Tasks

This post is a continuation of my last one, since it also focuses on the “preconstruction tasks” that need to be completed before your home can be delivered and set on its foundation.  This post focuses on your building permit and general contracting tasks.

A general contractor talking to the electrician.
A general contractor talking to the electrician.

Your Permit and General Contracting Tasks

  • Sign a contract with the GC or separate contracts with the subcontractors
  • Submit the septic design for approval to the board of health
  • Order the land boundary stakes for the property
  • Inform the GC of any easements or deed restrictions that apply to the property
  • Review any zoning regulations that apply to the property with the building inspector
  • Ask the building inspector if he enforces any special local building codes
  • Determine the cost of all permit fees that apply to the property
  • Give the building permit application to the GC to fill out
  • Ask the GC where he wants to locate the electrical panel box on the modular home
  • Ask the GC to help design the second story floor plan for the unfinished cape or attic
  • Ask the GC to specify the matching materials he needs to complete the site-built structures
  • Ask the GC to specify the rough openings he wants for the modular home
  • Ask the GC to specify the site-installed flooring details for the modular home
  • Receive the GC’s first draft of the preliminary plans and specifications
  • Get back the completed permit application from the GC
  • Obtain the necessary signatures on the building permit application
  • Have the surveyor complete the boundary stakes on the property
  • Receive the septic design approval from the board of health
  • Meet with the GC to revise the GC plans and specifications
  • Receive the GC’s second draft of the plans and specifications
  • Meet with the GC to sign off on the plans and specifications
  • Ensure the GC drills the well
  • Authorize the GC to draw the permit plans
  • Pay the GC the balance of the required deposit
  • Receive the dealer’s GC permit plans
  • Submit the well water test results to the board of health for approval
  • Apply for the building permit
  • Receive the building permit
  • Authorize the GC to begin his work
  • Meet with the GC, his excavator, and the dealer on the site
  • Ensure the GC begins the site work and prepares the site for delivery and set
  • Schedule the surveyor to complete the as-built plan
  • Schedule a bulldozer and/or tow-truck
  • Ensure the GC installs the foundation
  • Locate a staging area to store modules
  • Obtain the as-built plan and get a copy to the bank or town
  • Ensure the GC completes his site and foundation preparation
  • Ensure the GC brings the necessary heavy equipment to both the delivery and set
  • Pay the GC for his excavation and foundation work

For a detailed schedule of when each of your permit and general contracting tasks must be completed as well as each player’s responsibility for completing each of these tasks, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Your Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks

Your Preconstruction Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks

This post will focus on the modular dealer and financing tasks you must complete before you home is delivered to your property.

Building your home on schedule takes every bit as much planning as building it on budget. In fact, if you put a lot of effort into planning both, you are likely to find that keeping on schedule is considerably harder than staying on budget. That is because you can determine what you will get and how much you will spend before construction begins, and almost all – but not all – of the required decisions for building a modular home are reasonably predictable and within your control. This is not true for scheduling, since there are so many other players involved who will not always bend to your will, including the surveyor, engineer, utility company, building inspector, modular home dealer, modular manufacturer, and modular general contractor. You may even find that your own personal and family obligations become an obstacle to maintaining your schedule.

There are two very separable timelines when building a modular home. The first – the “preconstruction tasks” – includes all of the tasks you and your lender, modular dealer, modular manufacturer, and modular general contractor need to complete before your home is set. You are primarily responsible for making final decisions about your modular and general contracting drawings and specifications and for completing those tasks related to obtaining a building permit and financing. The second timeline involves those tasks the GC needs to complete after your house is set. This post and the next two will focus on the “preconstruction tasks” that must be completed before your home can be delivered and set on its foundation.

Female Lender and Couple Discussing Modular Home Payment Terms
If you are using a lender to pay for any part of your modular home, apply for financing as soon as you have enough information to do so

Your Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks

  • Sign a contract with the modular dealer
  • Apply for financing (if you are using a lender)
  • Receive the dealer’s first draft of the modular preliminary plans and specifications
  • Meet with the dealer to revise the modular plans and specifications
  • Specify where the GC wants to locate the electrical meter on the modular home
  • Design the second story floor plan for the unfinished cape or attic
  • Tell the dealer what special building codes are enforced by the building department
  • Tell the dealer what matching materials the GC needs to complete the site-built structures
  • Tell the dealer what rough openings the GC wants framed in the modular home
  • Tell the dealer what site-installed flooring and baseboard specifications the GC wants for the modular home
  • Receive the dealer’s second draft of the modular preliminary plans and specifications
  • Meet with the dealer to sign off on the plans and specifications
  • Authorize the dealer to complete the modular permit plans
  • Pay the dealer the balance of the required deposit
  • Receive the dealer’s modular permit plans
  • Deliver a copy of the bank’s commitment letter to the dealer
  • Deliver a copy of the building permit to the dealer
  • Deliver the bank’s assignment of funds letter to the dealer
  • Authorize the dealer to build the modular home
  • Send the dealer a certificate of insurance
  • Pay the dealer the modular balance due in full
  • Remain present during the delivery and set
  • Complete a walk-through inspection for warranty work and material shortages

For a detailed schedule of when each of your modular dealer and financing tasks must be completed, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home. The chapter identifies all of the players, the tasks they must complete, and the sequence in which the tasks should be done. It also explains your responsibility for completing each of the tasks

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Modular Payment – COD vs. Assignment of Funds

This is part two of a three part blog that explains several things you need to know about your modular home payment.  Part two explains the difference between a COD modular payment and an “assignment of funds” modular payment.

Why Modular Home and Stick Home Payment Schedules Are So Different

When customers construct a stick-built home, they usually do not wait until their home is framed, insulated, drywalled, wired, plumbed, and finished with cabinetry, doors, moldings, and flooring before paying their builder. But that is likely what you will do when you build a modular home. Your dealer will probably obtain a 10-percent deposit from you, but not receive the balance until he has built and delivered your home. As you can imagine, the many thousands of dollars required to manufacture a home makes the final modular payment a very significant event for the dealer and his manufacturer, who must also wait until you pay your dealer.

Although most dealers and manufacturers require a 10-percent deposit before they will build your home, some dealers require a deposit of 25 percent or more for a true custom design, since it could be more difficult to sell than a standard plan should you not honor your contract. Many dealers also require an additional deposit when you are paying with private funds, as will be explained below.

A few modular dealers will give you priority scheduling or offer a small discount if you prepay for the home. But you will only want to take advantage of that if you are sure the company is financially sound. Normally, you would pay off the balance after the home is delivered to your site or set on the foundation.

Why the Final Modular Payment Is So Important to the Manufacturer

When a dealer and manufacturer build a home after having received only a small percentage of the purchase price, they are taking a risk. After all, the manufacturer must pay its vendors, factory production crew, and delivery crew. The dealer must in turn pay the manufacturer, whether or not you pay him, since he will have a contract with the manufacturer.

When a customer does not pay for a home, the dealer and manufacturer are compelled to sell it to someone else, usually at a substantial discount. That is why the dealer and his manufacturer will be very concerned about receiving their modular payment in full for the balance owed on a home as soon as possible after they build it. That is also why all manufacturers prefer to be paid cash on delivery (COD), and many insist on it. Most lenders, however, prefer to make the final modular payment after the home is set on the foundation.

Why the Manufacturer Prefers A COD Final Modular Payment

The manufacturer wants to be paid COD because once the modules are attached to the foundation they are legally no longer considered personal property, which is what they are when they are sitting on their carriers. If you do not pay the dealer after the modules are on the foundation, the manufacturer cannot remove them and take them back to the factory, something the laws for personal property allow with a car. The modules are now real estate, and that difference gives the homeowner a great deal of protection against creditors. The dealer and manufacturer would need to get a court order to remove the modules, and this could take months and many thousands of dollars.

Why the Lender Prefers an Assignment of Funds Final Modular Payment

When using a construction loan to make your modular payment, the lender will need to give the modular manufacturer an assignment of funds letter agreeing to pay for the modular home.
When using a construction loan to make your modular payment, the lender will need to give the modular manufacturer an assignment of funds letter agreeing to pay for the modular home.

Most lenders take an opposing point of view.  They do not want to disburse funds from a construction loan to pay for the modules until they have been set on the foundation. Their view is that they are lending money for real estate, not personal property resting on a carrier.  Many lenders, dealers, and manufacturers have reconciled their conflicting demands by relying on what is known as an “assignment of funds” procedure, in which an authorized official of the lender writes a letter to the dealer or manufacturer committing to pay one of them an agreed upon sum after the modules are set on the foundation and inspected by a representative of the lender. This protects the lender and its customer by making the modular payment contingent on an inspection that the home is correct and properly set. The dealer and manufacturer in turn get the security they need by receiving a written commitment from the lender to pay the dealer or the manufacturer once the inspection is complete. In effect, the dealer and manufacturer are relying on the lender’s obligation to make good on its assignment rather than the customer’s obligation to honor their contract. When done properly, the letter assigns sufficient funds from the customer’s construction loan, usually equal to the balance owed by the customer for the modules, to the dealer or manufacturer and promises to make the modular payment either by wire transfer or with a bank or certified check.

For more information about the difference between a COD modular payment and an “assignment of funds” modular payment, see Financing a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Construction Schedule Delays

There are many types of construction schedule delays that can cause misunderstandings and ill feelings between a customer and their general contractor (GC). Here are five of them.

Construction Schedule Delays:  Situation 1

The GC does not initiate any work on your home the first seven to ten days after the set. You might conclude that the GC has dropped the ball and the entire project will be delayed. The GC, however, might be completing a few other homes that were started before yours. Completing the other homes first will keep him from having to jump back and forth between several homes at the same time. Once the GC starts work on your home, he will be able to make a concerted effort to complete it on schedule.

Construction Schedule Delays:  Situation 2

The GC gets ahead of schedule on one or two construction tasks. You might conclude that the entire project will be completed ahead of schedule. But there will likely be delays before your home is completed. Although it would be great if the GC completed your home early, it is more realistic for you to expect him to complete it on schedule.

Construction Schedule Delays:  Situation 3

The GC falls behind on one or more construction tasks. You might conclude that the completion date will not be met, but the GC’s targeted completion date allows for some delays.

Construction Schedule Delays:  Situation 4

With three weeks left to the projected completion date, the GC appears to have only two weeks of work remaining. You might think that the entire project will be completed ahead of schedule. There are multiple small details, however, including inspections and punch lists, that must be completed during the last couple of weeks of the project, and the crews needed to complete these tasks may not be scheduled for another week. If the project is not completed early, you may feel the GC mismanaged the end of the project. The reality is he is right on schedule.

Construction Schedule Delays:  Situation 5

With two weeks to go, the GC appears to have three-weeks worth of work remaining to be done. You might feel that it is impossible to complete the work by the targeted completion date. For the past few weeks, however, the GC has focused on completing a few other homes that were started before yours. Once he turns his focus back on your home, he will be able to make an all-out effort to complete it on schedule.

The point of these examples is make you aware that things are not always as they seem when it comes to progress on production schedules.  Whenever you have concerns, the best thing to do is talk directly with your GC while keeping an open mind to his explanation.

For more information about construction schedule delays, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule and The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Start Now to Move into Your Home by Summer or Fall

If you’re thinking about moving into your new home before the end of the year, you’ll need to make an appointment with us in the next couple of weeks.  This will enable us to put together the details for your home design, preferred specifications, and pricing.  This will in turn allow you to decide whether we can help you.

It Takes 24 to 42 Weeks from Start to Move-in

You might think that starting in February is too early.  But if you consider how long each step takes – from the start of shopping to the day your home is ready for your occupancy, you’ll discover that you can only meet your goal if you start immediately.

Below is the number of weeks each step takes most customers.  Note that each step must be completed before you can complete the next one.  This is important because you can’t speed up the process nor make up for lost time by doing several steps at the same time:

2 to 6 Weeks       Finalize your design, material selections, and pricing

1 to 2 Weeks       Decide whether we can help you

2 to 4 Weeks       Receive state approved building plans

2 to 4 Weeks       Obtain required permits

4 to 6 Weeks       Close on the construction loan (assuming you need financing)

5 to 8 Weeks       Authorize the modular factory to build and deliver your home

8 to 12 Weeks     Complete the on-site construction

Adding up the time it takes to complete all the steps, you need 24 to 42 weeks from the day you first meet with us to the day you move-in with your family.  This translates into 6 to 10 months.  If you start in February, the earliest you’re likely to enjoy your new home is August. If you take 8 months, which is much more likely than 6, you’ll take occupancy in October.  And if you take 10 months, you’ll be lucky to celebrate the holidays in your new home.

Waiting Can Cause You to Make Critical Mistakes

There’s another very important reason you should start now.  You won’t have to rush through any of the steps to keep on schedule.  If you wait several weeks, you’ll either have to hurry through the steps – especially your design, selections, and pricing – or delay your move-in date.  But when you try to shorten some of the steps, you’re prone to make mistakes, which you’ll later come to regret.

Here’s yet another critical reason to start now.  You’ll be able to take advantage of the historically low interest rates.  This will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the typical 30 year loan.

We Can Help You without Any Cost or Obligation

The Home Store can help you get started without without any cost or obligation. Our salesperson will generate a quotation for the plan of your choice using our Modular Estimate (60 pages of detail) and Contractor Estimate (20 – 50 pages of detail). Please click on the links to see some sample pages from each form.

With these estimates, you won’t be left guessing what you’re getting or what you’re paying. If you then decide to build your new home with us, we will finalize the design, specification, and pricing steps over the next month or two so that you can build your home on your schedule.

Please call us with any questions or to set up an appointment.

For more information about why you should start shopping now if you want to move into your new home by summer, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule, Selecting a Modular Home Dealer , Selecting a General Contractor, and Designing a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Special Permits and Documents Needed for a Building Permit

Below is a detailed list of the kind of permits and supporting documents that might be required by the building department in your community in order to obtain a building permit. When one of these is required, it usually needs to be obtained before you can apply for the building permit.  That’s why your modular general contractor should determine which ones are needed as soon as you’ve decided to build. Your GC should also determine what actions will be needed and how much lead time will be required for each permit and supporting document, and then act accordingly.

An example of the first two pages of a building permits application
Click Here to See an Example of a Building Permits Application.

In addition, you and GC need to agree who will pay for each of the permits and fees required to build your home. The cost for permits, utility fees, engineering and survey work, and related items varies widely from town to town, utility company to utility company, and engineer to engineer. For example, a building permit can range in price from a hundred to a few thousand dollars, and utility hookups can range from no cost to several thousand dollars. Since you are ultimately responsible for the costs, whether you pay for them directly or through your modular general contractor, determine the amounts for each item as soon as possible, budget accordingly, and agree in writing with your modular general contractor which of you will be making the payments.

Potential Permits and Supporting Documents

  • State and local environmental-commission’s approval: This is particularly important if the property contains wetlands or protected dunes in coastal areas
  • Tree-removal permit: If the land is on a state road, federal highway, or designated a scenic route, you might need permission from a regulatory agency
  • Utility permit for temporarily taking down high-voltage power lines
  • Demolition permit: May be required to demolish any existing structures, and another permit may be required to dispose of the materials
  • Hazardous waste permit: Required to dispose of hazardous materials
  • Well permit: if a septic system is needed, its design might need to be approved before a well permit is issued
  • Potable water test: the well water might need to pass a safety test before a building permit is issued
  • Municipal-water entrance permit: This can be as costly as drilling a well, and the fee does not include the cost for digging the trench or installing the underground pipe
  • Septic design approval: having the design completed by a licensed sanitarian or engineer and approved by the local board of health can sometimes take several weeks
  • Municipal-sewer entrance permit: This can be as costly as a septic system, and the fee does not include the cost for digging the trench or installing the underground pipe
  • Driveway curb-cut permit: In most areas this is routine, as long as safety is not an issue, but if the land is on a state road or a designated scenic route, you might need to apply to another agency
  • Street-excavation permit: If the road must be excavated to bring public utilities to the site, permission must be obtained from the town or state, depending on who is responsible for maintaining the road
  • Traffic-safety permit: If the road must be excavated or if traffic will be obstructed, the town or state may require special signage or a police officer to maintain traffic control
  • Fire-marshal approval: Required for smoke detectors, oil furnaces, fireplaces, and woodstoves
  • Building permit for additional structures: Required for all structures that will be built on site, such as a garage, porch, deck, mudroom, or finished attic
  • Structural engineering design and plan: May be required when an {I}-beam is being used in the basement to support the home instead of lally columns
  • Oil permit: May be required when installing oil heat, along with a final inspection to obtain a certificate of occupancy
  • Gas permit: Required when natural or propane gas will be used for the heating system, an appliance, or a fireplace
  • Fuel-storage permit: Required when the heating system requires oil or gas storage

For more information about your building permit and all additional permits and fees that might be required to build your modular home,  see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home and Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Scheduling Electrical Power to Your Home

Several of my customers over the years have suffered through lengthy delays trying to complete the turnkey on their home due to problems scheduling electrical power to their site. For the most part, these customers were acting as their own general contractor or had hired an independent GC. But my company has also experienced these delays in scheduling electrical power when serving as the GC.

Scheduling Electrical Power to Your Home

After scheduling electrical power, a utility work climbs an electrical pole
If your modular home will be located a substantial distance from the power lines, do not delay in scheduling electrical power. It will likely take one to three months lead time to have additional electrical poles or a new transformer installed

The delays in scheduling electrical power usually happened because the utility company needed additional electrical poles or a new transformer, which typically required one to three months lead time. The delays in scheduling electrical power were sometimes compounded because the approval of the poles required a public hearing, which itself took a month or more from scheduling to approval.  On a couple of occasions when things were particularly busy, the overall delay in scheduling electrical power was over four months.  In these cases, the GC completed as much of the work as he could.  But he was then stopped in his tracks for a couple of months, which delayed the customer’s move in by the same amount.

In other cases a delay in scheduling electrical power was used by the GC has a reasonable excuse for postponing the start of the work. As the GC pointed out to the customer, the subcontractors need electricity to operate their power tools. Although the subs could use a portable generator temporarily, this would be an inefficient and expensive way to operate.

These delays in scheduling electrical power can be minimized, however, if your GC asks the electrician to contact the utility company several weeks before your home is delivered. If the electrician discovers that you need additional poles, you can have him file an immediate request to avoid substantial delays. Another option for minimizing the impact of delays in scheduling electrical power, when possible, is to ask the electrician to set up a temporary service to your home.

Scheduling Electrical Power Weeks Before Beginning Construction

The most important thing you can do to avoid delays in scheduling electrical power to your site is to ask the electrician to request service to your home several weeks before the modules are to arrive. At the very least, you and your GC will know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

For more information about scheduling electrical power, see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home and Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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Modular Mansions

Modular builders in Greenwich, Connecticut, the shore of New Jersey, Westchester County in New York, Atlanta Georgia – indeed, across America – have built several multimillion dollar modular mansions. Certainly part of what makes these homes so expensive is the cost of the land. But it is the things these modular builders are doing to make their homes into modular mansions that makes them sell quickly to very happy customers.

Many three-story modular mansions have been built
Superior quality, speed, and reliability are why high end custom stick builders are using modular construction to build modular mansions

How to Make Modular Homes into Modular Mansions

Some of the builders start by working closely with an architect.Allof them select manufacturers who have creative engineering departments and flexible purchasing and production staffs as well as experience building several modular mansions over the years. They complete many of their modular mansions exterior embellishments and interior and exterior flourishes on site with local subcontractors. Some builders use top-of-the-line production cabinets, while others install custom cabinetry made by a local woodworking shop. The same goes for interior doors and moldings, with custom crown moldings, chair rail, and wainscoting complimenting impeccably detailed window and door trim. It is not uncommon for the builders to skim coat all of the drywall with plaster before repainting the entire home. They finish it with custom hardwood, tile, and laminate flooring. And they landscape the property to perfection.

Why Build Modular Mansions in Multi-Million Dollar Neighborhoods

Why do these builders use modular homes to construct multimillion-dollar mansions? Cost is one reason, of course, but reliability, speed, and quality are the principle incentives, since the local subcontractors are too busy and their quality is too inconsistent. With such success, these cutting-edge, luxury builders have no intention of going back to stick construction. And neither should you!

For more information about Modular Mansions, see Why Build Modular and Designing a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Selecting a Modular Home General Contractor – Part 2

After you have completed your initial screening for selecting a modular home general contractor, consider taking some of the following precautionary steps. You can forgo some of these steps if a GC has been in business for a long time and is widely known to have a good reputation.

  • Obtain an insurance binder mailed directly from the GC’s insurance company, since this is the only way to ensure that he has a current policy. See if he has sufficient liability and workers’-compensation insurance; your own insurance agent can tell you what the coverage should be. If the modular home general contractor or a subcontractor is not fully insured and someone gets injured or there is significant damage to your property, you could be liable.
  • Check with the state or local building inspector to verify that the GC is licensed and in good standing.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau and local consumer-affairs office to see if there have been complaints lodged against the GC. If there have been complaints, find out if they were resolved satisfactorily for the customer.
  • Ask the state attorney general’s office if there are any civil suits filed against the GC.
  • Get references from the GC for his commercial bank, suppliers, and subcontractors, and then contact each one.

Questions for Each Modular Home General Contractor Candidate

Tailor the list to suit your circumstances and each candidate’s background.

A modular home general contractor with his tool belt and blueprints
Take note of the personality of each modular home general contractor and see how well it fits with your own. Your modular home GC will serve as your business partner in the construction of your new home.
  • How long have you been in construction?
  • Do you work alone or are you part of a larger company?
  • How long have you been working for yourself?
  • How long have you been a GC?
  • What did you do in construction before you were a GC?
  • What is your experience with building new homes?
  • Tell me about your remodeling experience?
  • Tell me about your experience with modular homes.
  • Were you a GC or subcontractor?
  • If so, how long ago?
  • How many modular homes have you worked on?
  • What type of modular homes have you worked on?
  • What work were you responsible for?
  • What tasks did you do personally?
  • Which modular manufacturers’ homes have you worked on?
  • Have you ever set a modular home?
  • What experience do you have with the type of modular home I am building?
  • Have you built the types of site-built structures I need?
  • What experience do you have supervising excavation work?
  • What experience do you have preparing a site for the delivery and set of a modular home?
  • What experience do you have overseeing foundation work?
  • Are there construction-related tasks you would rather not be responsible for?
  • Do you have other employees? If so, what do they do for you and how will they help me?
  • What subcontracting trades, if any, are on your payroll?
  • Will you personally supervise my project from start to finish? If not, can I meet the person who will?
  • When will you be able to start my project?
  • How long will it take you to complete my project?
  • How many other projects will you be working on at the same time as mine?
  • Will you be directly supervising these projects?
  • Do you already have subcontractors in mind for my job?
  • How often will you contact me?
  • How can I contact you?
  • How do you keep track of scheduling?
  • If I have a warranty problem after I move in, what do I need to do to get the problem fixed?
  • How long can I expect it to take?
  • Will you take responsibility for one of your subcontractor’s warranty problems if the subcontractor will not?
  • Do you have any partners in your company? If so, what role do they play?
  • Do you have a “legalese” section in your contract that states the terms and conditions? Can I have a copy to review?
  • How much of a deposit do you require?
  • Under what circumstances is the deposit refundable?

Take note of each GC’s personality and see how well it fits with your own. In many ways, your modular home general contractor will serve as your business partner in the construction of your new home. If you are not comfortable with a candidate, find a gracious way to tell him that you have decided to go with someone else. Do not ask a candidate you have ruled out to complete an estimate just so you can get a comparison price. Not only is this unfair to him, it will not serve your interests. What you need are estimates from candidates that you would consider selecting.

For more information about selecting a modular home general contractor, see Selecting a General Contractor in my book The Modular Home.

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Modular Home Contracting Responsibilities

The GC has many difficult and time-consuming modular home contracting responsibilities. Some of these are obvious, but many are not.

Some of the More Important Modular Home Contracting Responsibilities

  • Obtain competitive bids
  • Help determine the scope of work
  • Help determine the building specifications
  • Select subcontractor candidates for each area of construction
  • Review written proposals for each subcontractor candidate
  • Select each subcontractor and sign a contract detailing the scope of work, building specifications, and price
  • Create and manage the schedule for materials and subcontractors, including the sequence of each subcontractor to maximize productivity and reduce conflict
  • Ensure the job is ready for each subcontractor before instructing him to begin
  • Revise the schedule weekly to adjust for inevitable delays, such as weather, inspectors, and illness
  • Ensure that work is done to accepted industry standards as well as to the customer’s satisfaction by completing on-site inspections
  • Ensure that any warranty problems that occur after the job is done and after each subcontractor is paid are taken care of to the customer’s satisfaction
The GC's modular home contracting responsibilities before the home is delivered and set
The GC’s modular home contracting responsibilities before the home is delivered and set

As you can see, the general contractor (GC) has a critical list of responsibilities and duties. That’s why I strongly recommend that you hire a professional, experienced GC. He (or she) is able to call upon a number of subcontractors to obtain competitive bids for each construction task. He is able to get them to perform in a timely fashion, which is no small task in the building trades. He can command a fair price and a timely response because they depend on the work he provides. He knows which subcontractors to avoid because of a history of poor workmanship, unreliability, and unethical pricing. When problems occur, as they do on every job, a professional GC solves them quickly. Better yet, he anticipates problems as a matter of course and heads them off before they become a threat.

The GC's modular home contracting responsibilities after the home is delivered and set
The GC’s modular home contracting responsibilities after the home is delivered and set

Having an experienced GC on your side is also helpful when navigating the approval and permit steps that must be completed prior to beginning construction of a new home.  A licensed GC knows the building codes. This is important not just because following them is the law, but because they protect your health and safety. A GC who has experience with modular home contracting responsibilities will have the necessary insurance to protect against something going wrong on the building site. This includes an accident causing a serious personal injury or significant property damage to your home. This insurance is very important in limiting your potential liability as the homeowner.

You may save a little money up front by hiring a GC without professional experience, but you could lose the savings and your sanity once the work begins.

For more information about modular home contracting responsibilities, see Selecting a General Contractor and The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Modular Home Delivery and Set

When I first starting selling modular homes I had a difficult time convincing customers to bring the right equipment to their modular home delivery and set unless the need was completely obvious, which it often is not. That changed after one nearly disastrous incident.

A Lesson about the Importance of the Modular Home Delivery and Set

My customers were building a two-story home made up of four modules shipped on four carriers. I asked them to have their excavator assist the delivery crew on delivery day, and they complied. It turned out that the bulldozer was not needed because the ground was dry and firm. This enabled us to position two of the modules next to the foundation and crane on the property with the other two modules stored in a staging area over night. I reminded my customers that they needed to keep the bulldozer on site for the next day’s set, but they said they didn’t think it was necessary. I pointed out that if it rained that night, we almost certainly would have a problem. My customers responded that it would cost them $500 for the second day, and they thought it was a waste of money. When it began raining that night, I called them at home to again ask them to supply a bulldozer. They refused.

A caterpillar loader ready to help with the modular home delivery and set
Make sure your GC provides the proper equipment for your modular home delivery and set

The set started off well. We got the first module onto the foundation quickly. While we were setting the second, we delivered the third to the site. But the transporters could not get enough traction on the wet ground to move the modules close enough to the foundation no matter what we tried. My customers called their excavator, who arrived two and one-half hours later. While we were waiting, a thunderstorm hit hard. My set crew climbed on the roof, in spite of the lightning, and tried to cover the two modules with tarps. They did OK, but while trying to position the tarp, one of the crew slipped and pushed his foot and part of the tarp through kitchen ceiling.Allof the water that had pooled on the tarp while it was being installed poured onto a row of cabinets. Fortunately, none of my crew was hurt and the damage was repaired. But that experience taught me that I had to explain to my customers all of the things that can go wrong if they do not provide the proper equipment for their modular home delivery and set. It also taught me to delay the start of a set if the equipment is not on site.

Help Your Dealer Protect Your Home During the Modular Home Delivery and Set

When your dealer tells you to provide equipment for your modular home delivery and set day, remember that he isn’t just protecting his interests; he is also protecting your house.

For more information about the modular home delivery and Set, see The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Are You Ready Willing and Able to Build a Modular Home

It takes most customers awhile to shop for a new home. When they’re finally ready to build, the last thing they want is to be slowed down by some unanticipated steps. Unfortunately, that’s what usually happens. Most customers are surprised by these delays because they haven’t given enough thought to what they need to do be ready willing and able to build a modular home.

Are You Be Ready Willing and Able to Build a Modular Home on Schedule

Personal Situation

  • Start a new job
  • Get married
  • Welcome a new baby
  • Say goodbye to your oldest child
  • Receive an inheritance
  • Receive an insurance settlement
  • Close on the sale of your house or have no house to sell
A "sold" home sign indicating that the seller is almost ready willing and able to build a modular home
If you own an existing home, you will likely need to sell it before you are ready willing and able to build a modular home

Selections

  • Home style
  • Home specifications
  • Modular dealer
  • Scope of on-site contracting work
  • General contractor

Building Lot

  • Purchase or receive as gift
  • Survey
  • Subdivide

Town Approvals

  • Zoning board
  • Planning board
  • Wetlands
  • Septic design
  • Building Permit

Financing

  • Lender financing or a sufficient source of private funds
  • Acceptable debt
  • Acceptable credit
  • Cash to cover
    • Mortgage down payment
    • Bank and legal fees
    • Carrying costs during construction
    • Dealer deposit requirements
    • GC deposit requirements

Some of the steps might only add a day or two, but others can delay you months from being ready willing and able to build a modular home. The sooner you identify where you stand with each, the sooner you’ll be able to form a realistic schedule and begin working on overcoming any obstacles.

Don’t Wait Until You Are Ready Willing and Able to Build a Modular Home before Signing with the Dealer

One final word. Even if you’re facing delays, I recommend that you sign a contract with the dealer and contractor as soon as you’ve made your selection. Otherwise, you may unwittingly create even more delays. To protect yourself, make sure your contracts include the contingencies mentioned in my 12/7/11 blog, “What You Need from Your Dealer – Part 1, Legalese”.

For a more detailed answer to the question, are you ready willing and able to build a modular home, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.

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