Photos of a Custom Modular Wiltshire T-Cape

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:

Our website elevation of our custom modular Wiltshire T-Cape.
Our website elevation of our custom modular Wiltshire T-Cape.

Here is the modular Wiltshire T-Cape floor plan:

Our website floor plan of our custom modular Wiltshire T-Cape.
Our website floor plan of our custom modular Wiltshire T-Cape.

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.

For more information about modular home plans, see Designing a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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Modular Home Checklists

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.

Use these modular home checklists to guide you through the process of building a modular home.
Use these modular home checklists to guide you through the process of building a modular home.

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.

  1. Ensure You Are Ready Willing and Able to Build a Modular Home
  2. Selecting a Modular Home Dealer
  3. Your Modular Home Dealer Customer References
  4. Selecting a Modular Home General Contractor
  5. Your Modular Home General Contractor References
  6. What to Include in Your Modular Home Legalese
  7. Selecting the Right Modular Home Plan
  8. What You Should Ask Modular Home General Contractors
  9. Reviewing Your Modular Home Floor Plans
  10. Reviewing Your Modular Home Elevation Plans
  11. Modular Additions
  12. Building a Universal Design Modular Home
  13. What Your Modular Manufacturer Needs from Your Contractor
  14. How to Air Seal a Modular Home
  15. Making an Offer To Purchase for a Building Lot
  16. Your Municipal Water and Sewer Connections
  17. Reviewing Your Modular Construction Drawings
  18. Potential Permits and Supporting Documents
  19. Your Modular Dealer and Financing Tasks
  20. Your Permit and General Contracting Tasks
  21. Omitting Materials from the Modular Manufacturer

For more information about all the topics covered in the checklists, see my book The Modular Home.

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Building A New Home Is Best For Accessibility

Why Building a New Home Is Better Than Remodeling When You Need Accessibility

What should you do if you need an accessible home?  Should you remodel your current home, buy a more accessible used home, or build a fully accessible new one?

Since there are very few truly accessible used homes, let’s compare remodeling your existing home with building a new one.  Since I believe building new is almost always better than remodeling, I will outline the advantages of building over remodeling.  Of course, if you don’t have the resources and flexibility to build a new home, remodeling will be your only viable alternative.

No Demolition and Shoring Up Expenses

You will not waste money demolishing or shoring up your new home.

Remodeling your existing home to make it accessible can often be surprisingly expensive. You will undoubtedly anticipate some of the costs for adding new features, but you may not plan sufficiently for the cost of the other work required to remodel. Most importantly, you must add the cost of the destruction (taking apart and removing what you no longer want) to the cost of construction (building in the new features). In addition, 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 might need to add structural supports in the ceiling and basement before you can begin. Otherwise, your home will not be structurally sound.

The task of removing walls and shoring up the structure is usually a Pandora’s Box for the remodeler. Often the remodeler can’t 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 for “time and materials”, and he uncovers a number of problems that require additional work, he will hit you with a change order that will create cost-overruns for you.  That’s why remodeling often goes significantly over budget.

Remodeling requires the de-struction of your existing home as well as the con-struction of it's new features, which makes remodeling expensive and subject to more cost overruns than building a new home.
Remodeling requires the de-struction of your existing home as well as the con-struction of it’s new features, which makes remodeling expensive and subject to more cost overruns than building a new home.

Greater Equity and Resale Value

Your new home is likely to provide you with greater market value and equity than a remodeled home.

Since the demolition and shoring up your home will not increase its value as much as it costs (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.  And should you decide to sell your home, you will likely lose some of the money you spent remodeling it.

Full Accessibility

Since every room in your new 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 you 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.

Efficient Use of Space

Your new home will provide you with the rooms you need without wasting 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 valuable space.

Attractive and Functional Landscaping

The site of your new home will 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 (often with long ramps) and adding considerably to the cost.

Lower Architect Fees, Custom Design

Whether you wish to customize a builder’s standard plan or design a completely new custom plan, a modular home builder’s fees will be substantially less than those required for a sizable remodeling project.

When remodeling your home for accessibility, you will often are best served by hiring an experienced architect to design a remodeling plan.

Home and Lot Matched in Size

You will be able to match a building lot of appropriate size with a new home that is as big as you need and your budget allows.

When remodeling, 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.

Right Sized Home

When building a new home of your choice, you will end up with a home that is neither too big nor too small.

If your existing home is already bigger than you need, your remodeled home will almost certainly be too big.  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.

Lower Energy Costs

Your new home will be considerably more energy efficient than your remodeled home.

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 and windows replaced.

Brand New Fixtures, Fully Featured

With your new home, everything will be brand new with the features you desire.

With older homes, your remodeling budget will require you to keep certain things you would prefer to replace. 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 hot water baseboard heat, you will need to add the duct work in addition to the air conditioning compressor, which will add substantially to the total cost.

Lower Maintenance Costs, Extended Warranty

Because your new home will come with new materials, it will require minimal maintenance. Furthermore, all the parts will be protected by a warranty. 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 continue to bear the effects of wear and tear. In addition, the only items that will have a warranty will be the ones installed by the remodeler.

For more information about building a fully accessible Universally Designed modular home, see Modular Home Specifications and Features in my book The Modular Home.  For more information about building an accessible modular in-law addition, also known as an Elder Cottage Housing Opportunity (ECHO), see Building a Modular Addition also in my book.

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Modular Homes Stand Strong

Two weeks ago I wrote about how modular homes stand up to severe weather, such as a tornado or hurricane.  In the past I described how one of our modules suffered only minimal damage when it fell off a trailer while we were setting the home.  I’d like to mention another example of the superior strength of modular homes.

In 1990 we brought a two-story modular home – the Whately 1 – from New York to Massachusetts where we erected it at the annual Springfield home show sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders.  Over 90,000 people visited the model.  After the show, we disassembled the modules and delivered them to our model home center where they were re-assembled.  Three years later we disassembled the modules yet again and moved them to a customer’s property where we reassembled them.

Our current Whately 1 two-story model home.
Our current Whately 1 two-story model home.

All together the four modules were each moved three times, assembled three times, and disassembled twice.  Each time they were assembled or disassembled they were lifted by a crane, which means they were picked up with a couple of thin straps five times.

A module being lifted onto the foundation by a crane using two thin straps.
A module being lifted onto the foundation by a crane using two thin straps.

If you’ve never seen a modular set, it is amazing how well the modules fare when they are lifted by the crane from the delivery carrier to the foundation.  This is especially true when you consider that each module weighs several tons, which makes the stress on the framing quite substantial.  Yet there was only minimal damage when the four modules of our old model home were craned into place for the last time. If a conventionally built home were lifted with a couple of thin straps even once, it would suffer substantial damage.

I will add one more observation.  As strong as modular homes were in 1990, todays modular homes are even stronger.  Food for thought!

For more information about the unique durability of modular homes, see Why Build Modular in my book The Modular Home.

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How to Dress Up a Modular Home Elevation Drawing

The Right Modular Home Floor Plan Sometimes Doesn’t Come with the Right Modular Home Elevation

A couple of months ago I discussed the importance of a modular home elevation drawing.  See here and here.  One thing I emphasized is that home plans on the internet almost always show a dressed up home.  But this doesn’t mean they’re adorned in the way you’d prefer.  It also doesn’t mean that the ones with the right floor plan layout have the look you want.  For example, they may have fancy siding, a taller roof, and a reverse gable.  But the one thing they don’t have is your front porch.

The good news is that you can add a front porch to virtually any modular home plan just as you can add a garage to any plan.  In addition, you can dress up your home with circle top windows, an ornate front door, decorative moldings, a hip roof, reverse gables, gable returns, A-Dormers, scalloped siding, cultured stone siding, a chimney, and a lot more.  Most modular home elevations will display some of these features.  But none of them may have the right combination of features matched to the right floor plan layout.  So you and your dealer will need to add the modular home elevation features you favor to the floor plan you select.

Examples of How to Dress Up a Modular Home Elevation

Here are six examples of how you can start with a relatively simple modular home elevation and embellish it:

Compare the standard modular home elevation of the Crookston one-story plan on the left with the dressed up version of the same plan on the right.

The modular home elevation of the Crookston one-story plan on the right adds a garage and front porch.

Compare the standard modular home elevation of the Barclay cape cod plan on the left with the dressed up version of the same plan on the right.

The modular home elevation of the Barclay cape cod plan on the right adds a larger front porch that also serves as a dormer, a stone facade, and a combination of vertical and horizontal siding..

Compare the standard modular home elevation of the Bellmeade two-story plan on the left with the dressed up version of the same plan on the right.

The modular home elevation of the Bellmeade two-story plan on the right adds a hip roof, three A-dormers, a brick chimney, a more formal front porch, and brick siding.

Compare the standard modular home elevation of the Glamorgan one-story plan on the left with the dressed up version of the same plan on the right.

The modular home elevation of the Glamorgan one-story plan on the right adds a taller roof and a larger garage with a reverse gable and entry doors on the side.

Compare the standard modular home elevation of the Tiffany cape cod plan on the left with the dressed up version of the same plan on the right.

The modular home elevation of the Tiffany cape cod plan on the right adds a front porch, a partial brick facade, and decorative moldings.

Compare the standard modular home elevation of the Gordon one-story plan on the left with the dressed up version of the same plan on the right.

The modular home elevation of the Gordon one-story plan on the right adds a front porch, a taller roof with an A-dormer, a partial stone facade, vertical siding with a scalloped accent, and a circle top window.

Have Your Modular Home Dealer Customize the Modular Home Elevation to Your Liking

As I mentioned in my other two posts (see above), take a second look at some desirable floor plans that you might otherwise reject – because they’re matched with unacceptable elevations. A practical way to do this when you are looking at modular home plans is to cover up the exterior elevation plans with a piece of paper. Otherwise you will find your eyes continually drawn to the elevation plans as you turn the pages.  Once you select some floor plan layouts that you like, have your dealer show you how he can create some modular home elevations that please you.

For more information about ensuring that your modular home elevation will be just the way you want it, see Designing a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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