Trash Removal

Trash Removal after Set Day

After the set, the site will have piles of plastic wrap that were removed from the modules.  The quantity of material almost always surprises customers and GCs without modular experience. The GC should dispose of all the material left over from the set immediately after it is completed.

In addition to the pile of trash created on set day, the button-up phase and construction of site-built structures will generate trash daily. Therefore, it is usually best if the GC uses a large dumpster to dispose of the trash.  If the site does not have room for a dumpster on set day, the GC can have one delivered the following day.

The best option for managing trash removal on the site is to use a dumpster.
The best option for managing trash removal on the site is to use a dumpster.

The GC may decide instead to use a truck or van to carry the waste from the site. In that case, he should provide a container or at least designate a location for everyone to place their trash. This can work as long as the GC regularly removes the trash; if he does not, your new neighbors may find trash being blown into their yards. You would probably prefer to get to know them under different circumstances.

Trash Removal when Packing to Move    

As you pack your belongings while preparing to move, you will undoubtedly generate a lot of trash. Resist the urge to use your GC’s dumpster. Even though you are paying for it, the GC needs all the room he can get for the construction debris. In addition, if your contribution fills the dumpster prematurely, you may receive a bill for an additional dumpster, which will cost a lot more than the extra time it would have taken you to use the town’s disposal services.

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

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.

Modular Home Delivery Challenges

Modular Home Delivery Challenges         

A road sign indicating a winding road ahead for the next 5 miles
The dealer should confirm the modular home delivery route.

Although most building sites can take delivery of a modular home, there are some locations that require enough extra site work or a redesign of the house plan into smaller modules that building a modular home is not practical. Narrow approaching roads with hairpin turns, lots on the side of steep hills, and very narrow properties can pose challenges. The only way to know if a building lot can comfortably receive a modular home delivery is to have a modular dealer visit it.

But sometimes that’s not enough.  A few years ago we delivered a two-story home to an “easy” lot.  It was flat, wide, and deep with no trees to obstruct either the delivery or set.  The roads to the property were also straight and wide enough. Or at least they were when we completed our inspection of the route.

A week before delivery we were informed by the customer that our planned route had been closed by the town for six weeks to complete some emergency work to the sewer and water pipes. We immediately revisited the site and searched for an alternative route.  Fortunately there was one option, but unfortunately it required us to cross a very old, narrow wooden bridge that wasn’t rated to carry the weight of the modules.

Modular Home Delivery Backup Routes

We ultimately decided to use a very large crane to lift each module plus its carrier from one side of the bridge to the other. Ever since then we’ve always made sure to look for a back-up route to the property. However, we’ve not always been able to find a viable alternative.  Usually there is more than one route for a car, but the alternatives aren’t always wide or straight enough to handle the size of the modules.  Whenever we have any concern about the primary or backup routes, we talk to the town public works department to make sure they aren’t planning to close the road around the time of the scheduled delivery.

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

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.

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.

© The Home Store, Inc., 2021