Finding a modular home dealer who will sell and deliver a well-built house is not a difficult task. Finding one who is committed to providing a full range of services beyond that can be more of a challenge.
To order, deliver, erect, and service a modular home requires a significant effort by many people. It also requires someone to coordinate these efforts.
Responsibilities the Modular Home Dealer Must Coordinate
- The modular home dealer staff – to design a floor plan, select building specifications, and price the package
- The manufacturer’s sales and engineering departments – to ensure the dealer’s order is understood and executed correctly
- The realtor – to find a building site
- The building inspector – to issue the required permits and approvals
- The lender – to provide financing
- The general contractor – to oversee the construction
- The installation crew and crane – to set the home on the foundation
- The manufacturer’s service crew – to complete the warranty work
- The modular home dealer service crew – to assist with the warranty work
Why Modular Manufacturers Do Not Act as the Modular Home Dealer
Because of the complexities involved in selling and building a modular home, most manufacturers do not, and will not, act as the modular home dealer or general contractor. They know they cannot provide the direct assistance and local coordination required. They usually are too far away, and they have neither the staffing nor the retail and construction skills. Recognizing their limits, they insist on selling through regional modular home dealers, who are responsible for providing the necessary customer services.
What is so different about modular homes? The simple answer is that modular homes are not self-starting or self-installing. You cannot turn the key and drive away, or plug them in and use them.
The Modular Home Dealer Typically Sells a Custom Designed Home
Like home building in general, modular construction is a complicated business. Today’s modular dealer rarely sells a fully pre-designed product. In fact, most modular homes are custom designed, with most of the design work done by the dealer and most of the engineering work by the manufacturer. With customers, the modular home dealer, and manufacturers continually pushing the envelope, customization puts a premium on an experienced sales, design, and engineering staff. Since you will be unlikely to obtain the necessary modular expertise or secure a manufacturer’s engineering assistance on your own, you will need the assistance of a competent dealer.
The Modular Home Dealer Always Needs Contractors to Finish the Home
Not only is the modular home dealer not selling a fully designed product, he is not even selling a finished product. To make a modular home into a finished product, a general contractor must orchestrate the “button-up” efforts of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, heating contractors, and others. Now that most modular homes are custom designed, the finish work has increased in complexity and requires substantially greater construction knowledge and time to complete. The problem would be manageable if the manufacturers always created fully documented assembly instructions specific to each custom plan. But this seldom happens, and the dealer is obligated to help the GC figure out what is required. This makes it necessary to select a dealer who understands both modular design and modular completion. If your dealer cannot provide this service, you and your GC can get in deep trouble very quickly.
For more information about the modular home dealer, see Selecting a Modular Home Dealer in my book The Modular Home.