Selecting a modular home dealer takes some time. You’ll need a few meetings with each candidate to learn enough about his building specifications, craftsmanship, price, and customer services to make a decision. During this time, look into each dealer’s background, modular experience, and company size.
Questions for Your Modular Home Dealer Candidates
You don’t need to ask each dealer all of these questions. Pick only those questions that apply to your specific situation. If, for example, you have a friend who has built a house with the same dealer, you may already know quite a bit about the dealer’s experience and reliability. If the dealer has also functioned as a general contractor for a number of years, you may not need to grill him about his GC experience, but you will want to ask him if he is experienced building the specific type of home you are considering.
- How long have you been selling modular homes?
- How many homes do you build a year?
- What type of homes do you mostly sell?
- Will you build a custom design, if I bring one to you?
- Will you help me create a custom plan?
- Do you have other employees? If so, what do they do? How will they help me?
- Will you personally help me from start to finish? If not, can I meet the person or persons who will?
- Which modular manufacturers’ homes do you sell?
- How long have you been selling each of them?
- How do they compare in terms of:
- Standard building specifications?
- Optional features?
- Warranty service?
- Production lead time?
- Are there other differences of note between the manufacturers?
- Which manufacturer would you use if you were building for yourself?
- How long do you anticipate it will take before we are ready to put my home in the manufacturer’s schedule?
- Do you anticipate the manufacturer’s lead time changing between now and the time we put my home in its schedule?
- What experience do you have as a general contractor?
- What experience do you have with helping customers prepare a site for the delivery and set?
- Who sets your modular homes?
- How can I contact you in the future?
- Cell phone?
- Work phone?
- Home phone?
- If I have a warranty problem after the home is delivered but before I move in, how do I get the problem fixed?
- How long can I expect it to take?
- Will you take responsibility for the manufacturer’s warranty problems if the manufacturer does not?
- 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?
- 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?
Note the Personality of Each Modular Home Dealer
Throughout each meeting, take note of the personality of each modular home dealer and how well it fits with your own. If you do not feel comfortable with the dealer or do not like his answers to your questions, find a gracious way to tell him candidly that you will not need his services.
Check the insurance of Each Modular Home Dealer
After completing this initial screening of dealers, and while awaiting written estimates, have each dealer’s insurance company mail you an insurance binder. Make sure the coverage includes sufficient liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. This will protect you if the dealer or one of his subcontractors is not fully insured and someone is injured on your property, or there is significant damage to your property.
Verify the Credentials of Each Modular Home Dealer
While waiting for the estimate, you may want to investigate the dealer’s credentials. First, contact the Better Business Bureau and local consumer affairs office to see if any complaints have been filed against the modular home dealer, and if they were handled satisfactorily for the customer. Second, ask the state attorney general’s office if there have been any civil suits filed against the modular home dealer. Third, ask the dealer for the names of his commercial bank, suppliers, and subcontractors. If he is in good standing with all of them, he should not object to you checking the references.
For more information about selecting a modular home dealer, see Selecting a Modular Home Dealer in my book The Modular Home.