Custom Modular Wiltshire T-Cape
Recently we built a custom modular T-Cape for one of our customers. The plan is the Wiltshire, which is also available as a one-story with a lower pitched roof.
Here is the modular Wiltshire T-Cape elevation:
Here is the modular Wiltshire T-Cape floor plan:
The standard modular Wiltshire T-Cape has 1,900 square feet, three bedrooms, and two baths on the first floor.
Click here to see several photos of our custom modular Wiltshire T-Cape.
As the photos show, the three front facing gables along with the center A-dormer add character and charm to the exterior of the home. The entry porch is practical yet ornamental. The floor plan is set up for easy entertaining. The kitchen, which opens to a large dining room and gorgeous living room, features a gourmet chef’s granite center island along with plentiful cabinets. The distinctive hardwood floors and Italian tile add beauty throughout the home. The master bedroom suite is well-equipped with dual lavatories, an oversized shower, and a generous walk in closet. The other two bedrooms are comfortably sized, while the laundry room provides ample and attractive cabinetry. The unfinished second floor offers abundant additional room for future expansion, such as for another bedroom or two, a home office, playroom, or storage.
My First Home – A Raised Ranch
My wife and I bought our first home a year before I learned about modular homes and became a builder. It was a raised ranch built in the 1960’s. It had everything we needed: three bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor and a drive-under garage, family room, and third bathroom in the basement. It also had a lovely yard framed by an attractive stone retaining wall.
What is a Raised Ranch Home?
A raised ranch is a one-story home built with a split-level entry on top of a raised foundation. It consists of two levels separated by stairs. The upper level contains the bedrooms, kitchen, living, and dining rooms. The lower level is a finished basement.
In our home, the entry was “split” in that it was built halfway between the first floor and the basement. A platform at the front door connected two sets of stairs, one going up to the first floor and one going down to the basement.
To make the bi-level design work, the foundation was elevated 5’ above the finished grade at the front of the home. The back of our raised ranch had a wood framed walkout with a slider and some full sized windows.
Why You Might Want a Modular Raised Ranch
There are several reasons why you might want to build a modular raised ranch. Elevating the foundation out of the ground can solve problems caused by a high water table. It is often easier to minimize excavation costs on a sloped property by building a raised ranch. Also, if the property has sufficient slope, the low side of the basement can be used for a drive-under garage, which is considerably less expensive to build than an attached or detached garage.
In addition, a raised ranch with a Cape Cod design that has an unfinished second story, offers you a chance to affordably expand your living space. The raised foundation allows you to finish the basement with larger windows. In addition to providing good natural light, the larger windows allow you to build bedrooms in the basement while meeting the building code requirement for egress.
In designing modular raised ranch floor plans, you will need to decide whether you want the front of the house flush with the front of the foundation or cantilevered over the top of the foundation. A cantilevered home, which is often preferred for its look, will have a foundation that is a foot or two narrower than the main floor, which means it provides less usable space in the basement. You will also have to decide if you want the front entry to be flush with the front of the house or recessed. An advantage to a recessed entry, in addition to its appearance, is that it provides some overhead protection from the weather for anyone entering the front door.
When thinking about the basement floor plan of your raised ranch, pay attention to where the split-level stairs are located. This is particularly important if you are building a drive-under garage, since the stairs should not intrude into the garage.
Modular Split Level Homes
“Split-Levels” are usually T-shaped ranches that are composed of a ranch on one leg of the T and a raised ranch on the other leg to create a tri-level design. They offer some of the advantages of a raised ranch, although they do not work well on a flat lot with a high water table unless the ranch wing of the house is built on a crawl space. As with a raised ranch, split levels can also be built with either a flush or a cantilevered front and a flush or a recessed entry. And they can often accommodate a drive-under garage.
For more information about building a modular raised ranch, see Designing a Modular Home, Modular Home Specifications and Features, and The General Contractor’s Responsibilities for Building a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.
Nominal Lumber Sizes
A two-by-six is not a 2 x 6 when it’s construction lumber.
The framing materials we use for the walls and ceilings of our modular homes are mostly two-by-sixes, two-by-tens, and two-by-fours. You might assume, as I did when I first started selling modular homes, that these designations refer to the actual dimensional sizes of the lumber. But a two-by-six is not 2” x 6”. It’s actually 1 ½” x 5 ½”. In fact, the 1 ½” dimension can be as little as 1 3’8” or as much as 1 5/8” and the 5 ½” dimension can be as little as 5 3’8” or as much as 5 5/8”.
Why Is Lumber Labeled with Nominal Sizes
In residential construction in the United States the framing materials are designated with a “nominal” value, which approximates its size. For example, a 2 x 10, which is close to 2” x 10” but actually 1 ½” x 9 ½”, is given the name “two-by-ten”. This makes sense when you understand a little history.
In the past, the nominal dimensions given to the lumber were the sizes of green lumber before it was dried and planed smooth. This process shrunk the lumber by about ½” in each dimension. The lumber sold today for residential construction is already dried and planed. But it’s still sold in the historical sizes with each size retaining its nominal name. That’s why your modular home will built with “two-by-sixes”, “two-by-tens”, and “two-by-fours”.
Nominal Sizes of Modular Floor Plans
Nominal values also play a role in designating the width of modular home floor plans. For example, a “twenty-eight x forty-four” home is actually 27’6” x 44’. In this case, the width is rounded up by 6”.
The Advantages of One-Story vs Two-Story Homes
There are a variety of ways to compare the advantages of a one-story vs two-story modular home. In part your choice will depend on your personal taste as well as your local real estate market. But you will likely also consider the distinct advantages of each. Here’s a list of the advantages most often mentioned by my customers.
- More living space
- You don’t need to use square footage for a staircase to the second floor, although you will need one to the basement
- You might need fewer bathrooms
- More attic space for storage
- More basement space for storage
- More convenience
- You don’t need to run up and down stairs to cook, clean, keep an eye on your children, do the laundry, or get a snack
- Safer for younger children and easier for older/mobility challenged individuals
- You can “age in place” more easily and affordably
- Easier to evacuate in case of a fire
- Less noise transmission, since sound does not travel through the walls of multiple rooms on the same floor as well as it travels between floors
- TV or stereo on either floor
- Foot traffic on the second floor
- Stair traffic
- Easier – and cheaper – to heat and cool.
- More consistent temperature zones, since all rooms flow into each other
- Trees can provide more shade
- Second story rooms easier to heat, since heat rises
- Greater separation of public and private spaces
- More privacy for second story bedrooms, which is especially valued by parents and older children
- Bigger yard
- Can build a bigger home on a smaller lot
- Easier to deliver modules down narrow streets and onto a small, tight lot, since each module can be half the length to create the same square footage as needed for a one-story
- Safer to open second story windows at night
- Smaller roof to maintain
- More expansive views from second-story
- Good exercise using the stairs everyday
- Better for the environment, since less land is disturbed during construction
For more information about the benefits of building a one-story vs two-story home, see Designing a Modular Home, Modular Home Specifications and Features, and Finding and Preparing a Building Lot for a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.
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.
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.
- Ensure You Are Ready Willing and Able to Build a Modular Home
- Selecting a Modular Home Dealer
- Your Modular Home Dealer Customer References
- Selecting a Modular Home General Contractor
- Your Modular Home General Contractor References
- What to Include in Your Modular Home Legalese
- Selecting the Right Modular Home Plan
- What You Should Ask Modular Home General Contractors
- Reviewing Your Modular Home Floor Plans
- Reviewing Your Modular Home Elevation Plans
- Modular Additions
- Building a Universal Design Modular Home
- What Your Modular Manufacturer Needs from Your Contractor
- How to Air Seal a Modular Home
- Making an Offer To Purchase for a Building Lot
- Your Municipal Water and Sewer Connections
- Reviewing Your Modular Construction Drawings
- Potential Permits and Supporting Documents
- Your Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks
- Your Permit and General Contracting Tasks
- Omitting Materials from the Modular Manufacturer
For more information about all the topics covered in the checklists, see my book The Modular Home.