Modular Homes Lead Industry Green Building Efforts

Modular homes and custom modular homebuilders are quickly reinventing the homebuilding industry. Because of the focus on energy efficiency, architectural and

design communities worldwide are coming together to create innovative designs for homes of all shapes, sizes and tastes. Not only are modular homes providing

affordable housing solutions because they are constructed more quickly and at a lower cost than traditional site built homes, modular home builders are also

leading the way in sustainable new home construction and environmental preservation through green building.

Modular homes are constructed in pieces in controlled factory environments. Factory production means fewer accidents and mistakes and a more predictable product and time frame. The pieces are then shipped to the site where they are assembled. Because the pieces need to be shipped, they are built much stronger than traditional site built home structures and components, using ten to fifteen percent more construction materials than are normally used. Modular homes also offer a much higher quality control standard, with so many third-party inspectors, engineers and architects involved.

Since modular home builders provide 80 to 85 percent of the home, the buyer avoids the risk of giving money to a builder and not having the home built to their specifications, or of having their price inflated by numerous change orders. Additionally, unlike modular homes, site-built homes are exposed to unfavorable weather conditions during the construction process, making the home vulnerable to water or weather damage, and increasing the costs of the project by adding additional materials and replacement components. All of these cost savings are passed on to the consumer, giving them more home for their money, but also giving builders more leeway to incorporate energy saving building best practices and products and services into their construction processes.

For builders, most green building benefits come from then flexibility inherent in the design and engineering of modular home systems. Modular homes are built stronger that traditional homes. They produce less waste because of reduced construction time, and less time needed on a site means less damage to the home site and surrounding environment. In addition, the design flexibility and innovation combined with the use of non-traditional building materials enable homebuilders and designers to build around existing trees and wildlife, creating new homes that are less intrusive to their environments.

Modular, or systems built, components are pre-treated before they are shipped to the site. This pretreatment reduces the amount of chemical vapors that enter the home upon construction, resulting in better air quality from the beginning. In addition, the internal structure of the home is protected from mold or water damage by the tightly controlled environments within the factories. Because construction can be completed in a fraction of the time necessary for traditional homes, there is less site waste, less threat of internal air quality deterioration and reduced chance of structure damage.

Wood for home components is delivered to factories at pre-cut lengths to further reduce waste, and many modular homes factories and materials suppliers employ extensive recycling programs to reduce excess or return materials to the environment. Additionally, many builders take site selection into account to maximize natural lighting, heating and cooling capabilities, as well as other water efficiency, day lighting, ecopower, improved erosion control and environmentally friendly building materials considerations. Other green building practices include increasing slab insulation, using solvent-free foundation sealants, increasing fly-ash content in concrete, improving foundation drainage, providing ventilation for radon and other tactics.

The speed of construction reduces the cost of modular homes, making them an ideal solution both to current affordable housing needs worldwide and also to homeowners seeking relief from recent hikes in utility costs. The reduced construction loan costs and interest amounts combined with lower pricing per square foot as compared to traditional site built homes enables home buyers and builders to focus their home construction dollars on energy efficient water and power systems. These can be as simple as energy efficient water heaters and appliances, or as complex as solar panels or gray water systems.

Many modular homes today are being constructed in such a way as to maximize daylight and reduce or, in some cases, completely eliminate the need for electrical lighting during the day. For example, the Venice, California MCube, designed by Mdesigns, utilizes a Japanese shoji inspired construction with translucent light emitting walls that let in natural light without heat radiation. The house also boasts solar radiant-heated floors, solar heated water and photovoltaic roof panels. This is just one example of the innovative designs emerging from architects and engineers worldwide. Pictures of the house are available at inhabitat.com.

Custom modular homebuilders, such as Grant Smereczynsky, CEO of Building Systems Network, a custom modular homebuilder based in Atlanta, GA, are encouraging consumers who are not yet familiar with the options available in modular homes to educate themselves about the benefits of these advancements in engineering, architectural design and systems-based construction.

Ending the Modular Homes Misconception

Many people think that modular homes are little more than cookie-cutter manufactured mobile homes. But this assumption, according to Grant Smereczynsky, CEO of Building Systems Network, could not be further from the truth. As Smereczynsky explains, modular homes are very poorly understood by the general public.

Industrialized, or systems-built, homes are constructed under high quality building conditions within a controlled environment and at fractions of the time and cost required to construct traditional site-built homes.

Custom built modular homes speak legions for the systems built modular home industry, because they demonstrate how architects and builders are thinking outside the box to meet the public need for quality built, affordable homes.

Highly skilled laborers construct sections of the homes, which are transported to the site where they are put together to build a home. The number one benefit of modular homes is the speed of construction. It takes eight days for custom home to go from start at the factory to delivery at the site. This method makes it possible for popular shows such as Extreme Home Makeover to construct brand new homes in under a week.

Even though these homes save on time and labor costs, they use ten to fifteen percent more construction materials because the walls, joints, framework and all other components of the house are strengthened beyond the levels of a traditional site home. This provides the biggest benefit to modular homebuyers – cost savings.

Since modular home builders provide 80 to 85 percent of the home, the buyer avoids the risk of giving money to a builder and not having the home built to their specifications, or of having their price inflated by numerous change orders. By cutting out most of the middlemen, modular homebuilders can provide quality, luxury, custom products at a fraction of the cost available through traditional builders.

"Don't let these innovative designs and new home building technologies pass you by," Smereczynsky says. "Take advantage of benefits and opportunities available to home buyers of affordable luxury and custom dream homes that modular homes and modular home builders provide."

Modular Homes: Built Better to Meet Today's Demanding Housing Market

There are many reasons to consider buying a modular home these days. Today people are looking for value for every dollar spent, and modular homes offer just that. With the improvement in quality of modular homes, they can be a better choice then conventional construction in most areas. And don't think that modular homes can't live up to that dream house of fantasy. Today modular homes are built to more varied specifications and architectural designs then ever before including multi level, split level, post modernistic and many traditional styles. If it can be envisioned, more then likely there is a company that can modularize its construction. Here are some of the reasons that modular homes are such a great value.

They can be completed Faster

Modular homes from start to finish can be built faster because the greatest portion of construction, including HVAC electrical and plumbing are completed under what are usually controlled climate conditions in a factory. Most everything is completed at the factory including the installation of cabinets and doors. Most fixtures, plumbing and electrical are in place before the modular home leaves the factory. When the modular home arrives on site ready to set on its foundation, there is less for contractors and subcontractors to complete. This saves a lot of time due to weather and scheduling issues that always seem to arise with traditional construction. That means savings of time and as everyone knows, time is money, especially in home construction

Saving on construction time saves big interest

With a typical construction loan, the first payments are basically interest. A common construction loan for a conventionally constructed home can be anywhere from 6 to 12 months long. With that in mind, consider how much will be saved in interest on the loan before it is converted to a conventional mortgage, if the construction time is cut from 6 months to 2 months. On bigger projects, the savings will be even greater. If you are required to carry the construction insurance modular homes can save even more. Because the structure is not exposed to acts of nature during critical stages of framing and construction, insurance rates are much more reasonable as well.

Less Wasted Material

Because modular homes are constructed under climate controlled factory conditions, material loss is kept to a minimum. On conventional construction sites, losses can add up to big dollars, due to poor weather, theft, and over all poor construction conditions, making modular home construction again more cost effective.

More durable construction

Because modular homes must be transported sometimes many hundreds of miles from the factory to where they will be placed on a foundation, they are held to a much higher standard in most areas of construction, to be able to withstand being moved. Better flooring which can be varied may include engineered floors on top of thicker nailed AND glued sub floors. Double and heftier constructed rim joists and thicker wallboard on ceilings and walls. Many of the added supports and bracing that are required for transportation can be left in place upon arrival which makes for a stronger more durable structure that holds up to the forces of nature better then do most conventionally constructed homes.

So if it's time to consider a new home, its time to consider a modular home. The advantages are many the savings are great and the risks are few to none. Lending institutions are aware of modular home advantages and many times are more willing to process loans accordingly. Modular homes have come a long way since first conceived of. Modular housing is no long to be considered second class housing as it once might have been. Today it is top quality and rivals any home construction method available.