Why Building a New Accessible Modular Home Is Often Better Than Remodeling

A home being remodeled with assorted tools and lumbereverywhere
Remodeling is more expensive and disruptive to your family than building an accessible modular home

No Demolition and Shoring Up Expenses – When building a new accessible modular home you will have no costs for demolition, and the structure of your new home will not need shoring up.

Remodeling your existing home to make it accessible can often be surprisingly expensive. You will probably anticipate some of the costs for adding new features to your home, but you may not plan for the cost of the other work required to remodel. First, you must add the cost of the de struction (taking apart and removing what you no longer want) to the cost of con struction (building in the new features). Secondly, you must add the cost of shoring up the existing structure of your home so that the new construction can be completed. For example, in addition to tearing down old walls and ripping out old plumbing and electrical, you will often need to add structural supports in the ceiling and basement before you can begin. Otherwise, your home will not be structurally sound.

The possibility of needing to shore up the structure is usually a Pandora’s Box for the remodeler. Much of the time, the remodeler cannot know what problems and expenses he is going to run into until he actually starts the demolition. If you ask him to give you a fixed price for the entire project in advance, he will usually build a significant cushion into his price. If you agree to pay him “time and materials,” and he uncovers a number of problems that require shoring up, he will hit you with the dreaded “cost-overrun,” which could put you significantly over budget.

The Home Store's Accessible T-Ranch Model Home with Front Porch
The Home Store’s T-Ranch Model – an Accessible Modular Home

Greater Equity – Your new accessible modular home is very likely to provide you with a greater market value, and thus greater equity, than what you paid for it.

Since the cost of demolition and the cost of shoring up your home will not appreciably increase its value (only the new construction will), the total cost of the remodeling will often be considerably greater than the value added to your home. Since much of the money you will spend on remodeling will be lost, your bank’s appraiser will be unlikely to justify a loan for the full cost of remodeling unless you already have a lot of equity in your home or a large down payment.

Greater Resale Value – Your new accessible modular home will almost always have greater resale value than what you paid for it.

Because the value of your home will not increase as much as it will cost to remodel it, you often will lose much of the money you spent remodeling when you sell your home.

Full Accessibility – Since every room in your new accessible modular home can be designed to be accessible and located where you want it, you will need to make fewer compromises to get the features and functions that you want.

When remodeling your home, you will often be unable to get all the features and functions that you need or want. Because the remodeler will have to work with your existing structure, he might not be able change the home sufficiently to give you enough of what you need. For example, the remodeler might not be able to locate the accessible bathroom where it would most benefit you.

Accessible modular home with spacious living room and dining room
Accessible modular home with spacious living room and dining room

Efficient Use of Space – Your new accessible modular home will provide you all the rooms you need and without wasted space.

When remodeling your home, you will often have to give up some existing rooms so that the needed features and functional space can be added. For example, one of your existing bedrooms might have to be donated to the remodeling cause so that your hallways, doors, and bathrooms can be widened. When the work is done, you may feel that you have lost space where you need it most and gained it where you need it least.

Attractive and Functional Landscaping – The site of your new accessible modular home can be graded and landscaped in ways that are esthetically pleasing as well as usable.

When remodeling your home, you will sometimes have to settle for site work and landscaping that is less attractive. With your foundation, driveway, and walkways already in place, the remodeler is limited in how he can make your site more accessible without detracting from its appearance and adding considerably to the cost.

Lower Architect Fees, Custom Design – Whether you wish to customize one of our standard plans or design a completely new custom plan, our fees are substantially less than those required for a sizable remodeling project.

When remodeling your home for accessibility, you will often need to hire an experienced architect to determine a remodeling plan.

Home and Lot Matched in Size – You can match a building lot of appropriate size with a new accessible modular home that is as big or small as you need and your budget allows.

When remodeling your home, your design choices will be limited by the size of your home and your lot. If your home is too small, and your lot does not allow for easy expansion, which can happen in city lots, your design options will be limited.

Long ramp across side of home for wheelchair access
Wheelchair access is often harder to achieve on an exisiting home than a new accessible modular home

Right Sized Home, Right Sized Taxes, Part I – If your existing home is already too big, and you sell it to build a smaller home, you will often be able to build your new accessible modular home for less money than you made from selling your existing home.

If your existing home is already bigger than you need and prefer, your remodeled home will almost certainly be too big, and maybe even bigger than it already is. You will end up with higher taxes than you want as well as more home to heat, clean, and maintain.

Right Sized Home, Right Sized Taxes, Part II – If you sell your existing home and build a new accessible modular home with no unnecessary rooms, you will have less money tied up in building your new home than you will have tied up in keeping and remodeling your old home. You will also have lower taxes, as well as a home that is easier to heat, clean, and maintain.

If your existing home is not too big before remodeling, but the remodeler is forced to add rooms in order to meet your needs, your remodeled home may become too big. For example, if you have all of the bedrooms that you need, but they are all on the second floor and you need a first floor master bedroom suite, you will be forced to build an extra bedroom. You will then end up with a bigger home than you need. You will also end up with higher taxes than you want, as well as more home to heat, clean, and maintain.

Lower Energy Costs – Your new accessible modular home will be very energy efficient.

Your remodeled home will usually have higher energy costs. Older homes were not built as energy efficient as new homes are today. Often the budget for remodeling won’t allow for improving the energy efficiency, since to insulate all of the walls and replace all of the windows can be expensive. In addition, older homes have very high amounts of air infiltration (leaks around the windows, doors, and electrical receptacles), and air infiltration is the number one cause of heat loss, even after insulation has been added.

Accessible tub - shower with grab bars and seat
Accessible tub – shower with grab bars and seat

Brand New Fixtures, Fully Featured – With your new accessible modular home , everything can be brand new, and desired features can be more easily and affordably added. For example, if you want central air conditioning, you can choose forced hot air for the heating system, which means that the compressor is the only additional cost for adding air conditioning.

With older homes, your remodeling budget will require you to keep certain things. For example, although you might like to replace your fifteen year old appliances, the cost of the remodeling will probably prevent you from replacing them. In addition, your budget will often prevent you from affordably adding features that you would desire. For example, if you want to add central air conditioning, but you have a hot water baseboard heating system, you will need to add all of the duct work in addition to the air conditioning compressor.

Lower Maintenance Costs, Extended Warranty – Because your new accessible modular home will come with new materials, it will require minimal maintenance. Furthermore, all of the parts will be protected by one or more warranties. In fact, your entire modular home will come with a ten year structural warranty.

Even after your older home is remodeled, it will have higher maintenance costs. All areas and components of your home that are not completely replaced will bear the effects of wear and tear. In addition, they will have little if any warranty left. Your remodeling work will likely have a one year warranty.

For information about building a accessible modular home according to Universal Design principles, see Universal Design.

 

For more information about building an accessible modular in-law addition, see ECHO.

For a related story, see The Joys and Pitfalls of Inter-generational Living: One Family’s Success Story.

For more information about modular additions, see chapter 8, “Building a Modular Addition,” in The Modular Home by Andrew Gianino, President of The Home Store.

For some examples of universal designed kitchens and bathrooms, see Kitchen and Baths.

For a comprehensive overview of what you need to know to build a modular home, order The Modular Home (310 pages) by Andrew Gianino.

The Home Store – Your Best Source for Buying a Modular House or Custom Modular Home in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New England.