Are you looking to get a house that suits your every need? Do you need help contemplating a new construction? If so, modular homes are an option.
It is a type of property that is rapidly becoming increasingly popular, and this is due to its design and structure. It is also known as a prefabricated home. Customers could choose from dozens of home designs in the Sears, Roebuck, and Co. catalog when these dwellings first gained popularity in the early twentieth century.
Modular homes are typically made in a factory, area by area, section by section, and then hauled to the installation site or wherever needed. This system makes them more affordable and simple to install than regular, standard homes such as stick-built homes built on the site from the ground up.
Designs and construction methods have dramatically changed since they were popularized approximately a century ago. Today, contractors and builders are looking for less expensive and cheaper ways of building homes.
If you are looking for an affordable option to cut costs on your new home, you may consider getting a modular home. The cost of a modular home is frequently less than that of a regular home. The average cost to build and install a modular home is around $250,000. However, they may cost less or more depending on certain factors such as land, size, installation site, materials, customizations, design, etc.
If you are getting to know about modular homes for the first time, don’t be confused about it. In this guide, you will find out how much modular homes cost, their worth, and their value. Also, we will provide you with factors and a guide that will greatly help you when choosing this type of property. Let’s get Started!
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What are Modular Homes?
Modular homes are known as kit homes, prefab, or prefabricated homes. They are different from traditional homes because they are built around a steel frame. As the name ‘modular’ suggests, these homes are built in factories rather than on-site. The modular parts are then sent from the factory to the lot for assembly. After assembly, more work is needed to finish the home, although around 90% of the home is produced in the factory.
Modular homes shouldn’t be confused with mobile homes as they are both different. Mobile homes are built wholly at a factory and then transferred to their final location or the place where they will be used. Since mobile houses are not held or supported by foundations, they can be relocated or transported again as needed.
On the contrary, a prefab or modular home, however, has a foundation that is set in place permanently. Modular homes can be distinguished from mobile homes because they cannot be moved once assembled.
Modular homes are not fully assembled but transported in pieces and bits that need to be worked or built on the foundation. Think about purchasing a gingerbread house kit in the holidays. They provide you with walls, assembly tools and materials, and decorations, and all you need to do is to put these items together.
Although purchasing a modular home doesn’t bypass construction costs and contractor needs, it saves costs and helps bring down the amount of work expected of them to do. Therefore, a modular home is an ideal and better option for a family home, a budget granny flat, or a retirement home. All you need to do is to choose the size and the number of modules you need. Afterward, they will be shipped to do to assemble on your site.
Alternatively, you can opt to build a stick-built or a site-built home, typically constructed on the land they are placed on. The name ‘stick-built’ comes from the traditional way of building a home with wooden material, where the frame is constructed of two-by-four sticks.
Even if you don’t construct a stick-built home or choose to build a brick or cement house, it will be considered stick-built if you construct every aspect and element on-site. Most times, you may not recognize a modular home unless the owner tells you so.
What Are The Benefits of Modular Homes?
Modular homes offer a lot of benefits, and this is the reason why many contractors and builders choose this option. In the same vein, there are several advantages of working with a modular company rather than building a site-built home with an architect and contractor.
Building a house from the ground up on-site can be time-consuming and costly. On the other hand, a factory-built or modular home can be transported to the site, assembled, and completed quickly. This option is more affordable as labor cost is reduced.
Below are the benefits of modular homes:
- Speed: You could move into your home quickly when you order a pre-fabricated home rather than working with different contractors on every element. The construction time required to build a modular home is shorter than a stick-built home.
- Lower building cost: The cost of constructing a modular home is 20% lower than a stick-built house because less labor is needed to put the materials together.
- Options: Prospective homeowners can choose from a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles to choose from.
- Transportation: You can transport your home to a new location.
How Much Do Modular Homes Cost?
Although the price of a modular home can vary, it is frequently less expensive than conventional techniques. Modular home prices are different from what you would anticipate.
The prices can also differ significantly due to the wide range of options in modular home design. It might cost around $80,000 to construct a small modular structure. Prices for larger modular homes could reach $500,000 without considering the lot’s cost.
The basic model and total finished price are the two essential costs to consider when estimating the price of a modular home. The cost of the base model includes the materials for the actual house, shipping, and labor for setting up the modules. In addition to the foundation, permits, utility hookups, and other fees associated with the house are included in the total cost. It also includes extras like landscape and interior design.
Since you need foundations and utilities and can’t build the house without permits, the finished cost is the most important. These additional costs must be considered when considering the construction of a modular home.
The average base model costs between $120,000 and $150,000, but when finishing charges are added, this comes to between $270,000 and $300,000. Similar to other construction types, the base price will differ significantly from the final cost after extras. A basic model will cost less than one fully equipped with luxuries and unique features.
Generally, the cost of modular homes ranges from $2,000 to $3,000 per square meter. However, these costs will vary depending on many factors.
The prices for a full kit home start anywhere from around:
- $115,000 for an 85 sq meter home with two bedrooms and a bathroom.
- $145,000 for a 152 sq meter home with two bedrooms and a bathroom.
- $220,000 for a 205 sq meter home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a study.
Factors That Affect The Cost of Modular Home Construction
As expected, the cost of a kit home depends on several factors, so you may want to consider these factors when planning your budget.
Some factors that affect the cost of building a pre-fabricated home include the cost of land, land clearing, preparation, foundation installation, utility service costs, etc.
1. Cost of Land
As with any home construction, you can’t build a cost without land. If you are building a modular home, you would want to include the cost of land acquisition in your budget. The land cost is one of the most expensive parts of the building project.
The cost of the land depends largely on the location and environment. Generally, urban areas should cost more than rural ones.
New Jersey is one of the most expensive places to get a piece of land in the United States. An acre of land in New Jersey sells for around $200,000. However, there are other states and areas to get cheap land. For instance, you can get cheap land in Northern Maine and Wyoming, which offers great value for around $1,500 per acre.
The location where the land is situated will largely influence the cost. If you are searching for landed properties in highbrow areas like Massachusetts, you should be ready to part with a huge sum of money. Before buying a piece of land, ensure you do your research. You may have to get a loan if you don’t have enough money to purchase the land. The are chances the land development costs in the area will likely affect the price of the land. It may not be easy to know the actual cost of modular homes in an area without knowing the land development costs.
Often, modular home prices are influenced and determined by the land cost. While a modular home may be expensive, another may be less expensive.
Transportation of the kit home from the factory or place of construction to the job site will also affect the final cost of the modular home. A home’s square footage and other custom features will likely affect the modular home’s pricing.
The transportation costs for modular housing can vary from one location to another. Generally, $5 per square foot is the standard for most rural areas.
Other factors that fluctuate the prices of modular homes include the square feet of the structure, the site’s distance from the factory, and if the modules require a separate shipment.
3. Land Clearing and Preparation
Most sites must be cleared and prepared before a modular home is installed. Depending on your construction site, it may need a form of preparation like weeding the area, removing debris and trees, leveling the ground, etc.
Averagely, the cost of land clearing and prepping can cost around $2,500.
4. Foundation Installation
Many prefabricated homes need a foundation to support the structure. The foundation installation cost varies depending on the foundation type. It is around $5, $7 up to $30 per square foot. The average cost of installing a modular home’s foundation will typically be around $8,000.
Moreover, if you plan to install a basement foundation, the costs will be between $20,000 to $30,000, whereas a crawl space foundation starts from $6,000.
5. Natural Gas Line
Most people prefer natural gas to propane gas. If you don’t have a natural gas line, you’ll need one installed around your property. The cost of running a natural gas line is around $549.
6. Sewer Main Installation
Installing sewer mains in your bathrooms will keep them working properly. The cost of installing a main sewer ranges from $3,200 and above.
7. Water Main Installation
Water is an important ingredient that is needed in every home. If you want water in your faucets, you must install a water main. The average cost of installing water mains is $1,599.
8. Electrical Wiring
Electricity is indispensable to keep lights and home appliances on. If you want some electricity in your home, you should be willing to pay for electrical wiring, which should cost $1,200.
9. Regional Size and Design Differences
Even if the prices per square foot are similar nationwide, there may be regional differences in the design, style, and sizes of kit homes. You must have noticed this if you’re used to the market prices. Companies based in places with larger lot sizes tend to offer customers modular homes with bigger footprints, specifically one-story ranch design styles.
Manufacturers serving urban clientele are likely to offer a suite of company two- and three-story designs tailored for narrow lots.
10. Permits and Fees
Most times, municipalities require permits to prep the land and install a modular home on it. Therefore, if you are preparing a budget for a modular home, you may include permits and fees required for building the structure, testing soil, installing utility connections, and other add-ons.
Some municipalities may require you to pay impact fees for roads, parks, and schools. The cost of the permit and fees start from $500 up to $5,000, depending on your municipality’s requirements. Homeowners may be required to obtain permission for the following:
- Utility connection.
- Soil testing.
- Construction of additional features.
So you may have to inquire from your contractor or consult your municipality’s building department on which permits you need.
11. Sales Tax
Modular homeowners may be required to pay sales tax on their property. These taxes may vary depending on the state, city, or location but on average, and the taxes cost around $5,000 to $10,000.
Don’t hesitate to contact your modular home’s manufacturer or local tax office, as they are better positioned to answer any sales tax-related questions.
12. Custom-Design Prefabricated Home Prices
You could pay around $200,000 to $400,000 for a custom modular home. Many modular home companies and contractors can add more aesthetics to a building beyond flooring, wall decorations, and worktops.
Some can customize an existing design or develop a brand-new design from scratch. If you plan to get a custom-design kit home, you should ask your builder or contractor about the level of design customization their company offers because it could be more than the average price per sq ft quoted here.
Can You Afford a Modular Home?
Everyone knows that mortgage payments are higher than rent. As a homeowner, you should know that it is your responsibility to maintain the property and take care of other maintenance costs. You will pay property taxes as a part of your regular monthly mortgage payments. If you don’t have 20% down, you will have to pay for private mortgage insurance premiums.
If you rent the home, there are other costs you may not take care of. Costs such as internet and cable network, garbage, utilities, and more will be the responsibility of the tenants or those renting the property. Therefore, you may want to consider these costs if you plan to build a prefab home.
If your budget and calculations show you are financially prepared to construct a modular home, you’ll need the services of a reliable mortgage lender. There are a lot of mortgages available, and some plans or servers are tailored and more suitable than others. Would you prefer a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage? How long do you want a term to be? You will know what you want after answering these questions.
Eventually, if you find the right home loan, the next thing is to seek mortgage pre-approval. After submitting your application or indicating your interest in a loan, your lender will review your credit score, employment details, and financial information to determine if you are qualified for the loan. If you are eligible to get a loan, they will determine the maximum loan they can offer. You may be required to submit tax forms or provide information on your monthly/annual income, such as pay stubs.
After your income is confirmed, the lender or loan company will approve your loan request. With pre-approval, you will know how much you can spend constructing your modular home. When you’ve been preapproved, your loan company will issue a preapproved letter, which you can show sellers when buying a landed property.
Are There Many Styles of Modular Homes Available?
Although it is simple to believe that all modular homes have the same appearance, this is untrue. Many patterns, sizes, designs, and styles are available to suit your demands. You can get a unique design that doesn’t look like a modular home and offer everything your family is looking for.
The choice of your floor plan will be easy. You’ll have a distinctive home with the plan your family needs. Manufacturers provide hundreds of distinct layouts, along with possible customization.
Hundreds of designs were available even in the early days of prefabricated housing. In the 1930s, Sears offered at least 370 different modular home designs. With hundreds of designs and layouts offered by manufacturers, your choices are broad, and there is a big decision to make.
With the renaissance of modular homes today, there should perhaps be more than a thousand designs and styles available. Like with conventional housing, the design will impact the price of modular homes.
Do Modular Homes Hold Their Value?
As with other types of construction work, modular homes are expected to retain their value. However, you shouldn’t expect a modular home to keep its value as traditional site-built or stick-built houses. Also, prefab houses are expected to last as other construction types.
Your modular home won’t lose its value if you maintain it properly. If the local housing market or value is increasing, modular homes in that location are expected to appreciate too.
What Is The Resale Value of a Modular Home?
If you own a modular home, the good thing is that you can sell it for good figures. Modular homes appreciate as stick-built houses and other properties. If you reside in an area where home prices are increasing and there is a steady demand for properties, your modular home will also grow.
You can market your modular home as an asset to buyers because of the facilities and warranties it comes with, as well as the quality of construction. Like every property, the value of your home isn’t ascertained or determined by where it was built and how it was constructed. Your upkeep can either surge or plummet the value of the property.
Let’s say you decide to sell the house when it has outdated appliances and facilities or some areas, such as doors and roof, need a replacement; you will have to settle for a lesser price. The home inspection your budget requests can prove whether the home was well-built.
Renovating worn-out areas and investing in the right improvements will increase the resale value of your property and your chances of getting buyers who will give you a great return on investment. Before selling your modular home, talk with your Realtor, who will relay the information to agents and prospective buyers.
Do Building Codes Apply To Prefab Homes?
Irrespective of where the home was manufactured, it will follow the building codes for where it will be assembled. Building codes apply to suburbs, cities, states, and countries. However, some local building codes may differ from city to city or state to state.
Why You Should Vet The Builder When Building a Modular Home?
Like you vet the builder when purchasing a new stick-built home, you should also vet the modular home builder. You may be wondering why the prices of modular homes differ from company to company. There are many modular builders in your locality and on the internet, with different levels of experience and expertise, which you must choose from.
Surely, there will be reliable companies and bad ones, so it will be vital for you to do your due diligence when choosing a builder to construct your modular home. As the builder questions about the project until you are sure he knows what needs to do.
If the answers provided by the builder are satisfactory, it shows you that both of you are on the same page and can work together. This is vital for the workflow and performance at the end of the project.
Tips For Buying Land To Build Your Modular Home?
Generally, it would be best to find a piece of land to build your kit home. What type of land do you need? A piece of land with acreage or want something smaller and more manageable? Regardless of the type of land, you will need a real estate company or agent to help you find options for your new home.
On many occasions, land buyers have been scammed by fraudulent real estate agents. You need to find the right real estate company that will help you find an ideal space to construct your new modular home.
Real estate agents are experts in this field and should have accumulated enough experience dealing with land matters. A reliable real estate agent will steer you away from purchasing the wrong piece of land. A good estate agent will not be influenced by the commissions or the gains he is expected to get but will prevent you from getting a property higher than your budget.
Buying the wrong land could potentially truncate your plan, so try to get as much help and support as you can when buying land for your modular home.
Are There Cheaper Alternatives To Building a Modular Home?
Various efficient alternatives are available if a modular home’s land or construction cost is above your budget. One of the various alternatives is a shipper container home and a tiny home. Modular homes are likely to cost more than tiny and container homes.
Each of these homes or properties has its pros and cons. Tiny homes, for instance, may not provide ample space for a growing or large family, and container homes are not permitted in certain areas. So it is wise to research and do your due diligence before spending on these property types.
How Much Will It Cost Me To Install a Modular Home Myself?
You should install a modular home yourself to save money on construction costs. A kit or modular home is a complex technical project that requires some work experience and construction know-how and is best attempted by homeowners with construction knowledge and expertise.
If you haven’t built a modular home before or have never been involved in any construction gig, it’s best not to try installing it yourself.
Cost To Install a Modular Home Vs. Hiring a Contractor
As mentioned, installing a modular home yourself will be cheaper and less costly than hiring a contractor. Hiring a builder or contractor to install your prefabricated home will cost between $5 and $30 per square foot. This amount will be included in the base unit cost of $50 and $100 per sq ft.
Constructing and installing a modular home involves connecting your home’s modules, completing carpentry & finishing work, installation of stairs and external pieces, and testing and inspecting the project.
Installing the modular home yourself will save you some costs, such as the cost of labor. Rather than paying for labor costs, you get to pay for the base unit, materials, and tools required to begin and complete the project.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Modular Homes vs. Manufactured Homes: What is The Difference
Prefabricated housing includes both modular and manufactured dwellings. Both are built in a factory setting under carefully controlled conditions. A manufactured home is fully constructed in the factory before being shipped. In contrast, the final assembly for a modular home is carried out on location and built on a permanent foundation.
Generally, the construction and customization of manufactured homes differ greatly from modular buildings. Manufactured homes are built on a chassis that must adhere to the national HUD standard. In addition, manufactured homes are seen as vehicles for zoning and tax purposes and can easily be relocated to a new location.
Manufactured home construction typically costs between $40 to $50 per sq ft, while modular home construction is around $40 to $80 per sq ft.
How Much Will a Modular Home Cost Per Square Foot?
You will pay between $80 and $160 per square foot for a basic modular home. This includes the base unit cost, delivery, site prepping, installation and finishing.
Adding extra features and customizations, such as a porch or garage, can increase the cost by an additional $10 to $200, depending on the project’s complexity.
Many homeowners typically want additions such as a deck, shed, or basement installed on their base unit. These additions can cost between $2,500 to $32,000 or even more.
How Much Does a Modular Home Cost by Type?
Since the prices of modular homes are appraised by the square foot, the cost will be higher if your home is large, and the smaller your home, the lesser it will cost. The base unit of a two-bedroom, one-bathroom prefab home should cost around $40,000 and $140,000, while a four-bedroom, two-bathroom modular home can cost between $80,000 to $250,000 or more.
Can I Build a Modular Home For $100,000?
Depending on the company and size of the building, you can construct a small modular home or granny flat for under $100,000. For a 2-bedroom home, you are expected to pay slightly above $110,000.
Is It Cheaper To Build a House or Buy a Modular Home?
The cost of building a modular home is way lesser than traditional stick-built homes. Building a modular home will save you the thousands you’d spend on a traditionally built home. The cost of building a modular home will be higher if you plan to build a large-sized house using high-quality construction materials.
Do The Cost For Modular Homes Include Land Prices?
When planning your budget, keep in mind that the land cost is not included in the pricing of the modular home. Depending on your region, the land could be the most expensive component of the acquisition. At $196,410 per acre, New Jersey has the most expensive land, according to Zippia. At $1,558 per acre, Wyoming has the most affordable land prices.
Within each state, land prices will differ significantly by city and region. The cost of land in Florida is $28,961 per acre compared to other states, but it is substantially more expensive in Miami or Orlando than in Central Florida.
Why Are Modular Homes Expensive?
As with building any house, the high cost of materials in the market affects the final cost of modular homes. Although modular homes are more efficient and cheaper to build, construction materials and labor costs to deliver and set up on-site make them expensive.
Are Modular Houses Less Expensive To Build Than Stick-built Homes?
Modular homes are less costly than stick-built homes because their components are pre-built and designed. Modular
How Much Will a Multi-Family Pre-Built Home Cost?
A two-story kit home costs between $80,000 to $175,000. Contractors suggest having separate floors for multiple persons living in a house.
Prospective modular homeowners can consider paying an extra $16,000 to $32,000 to install a walkout basement having a separate entrance. This ensures that the people living in the basement get easier and have private access outside the house.
How Much Will It Cost Me To Build a Modular Home?
The total cost of building your modular home will vary depending on various factors, including the home’s size, style, pattern, and design. Still, expect to pay between $125,000 to $270,000 for the home.
When preparing your budget, ensure that it includes the actual cost of the house quoted by the modular company coupled with finish costs related to fees, permits, foundation, and landscaping.
How Much Does a Custom Modular Home Cost?
Customizing your home’s design, size, floor plan, and finishing will typically inflate the costs, as the contractor or the builder will take some time adjusting the home’s original design.
Custom modular homes will cost between $120 and $250 per square foot for the base unit. In summation, you should pay around $120 and $300 per square foot, including installation.
How Much Does It Cost To Install a Modular Home On An Existing Home?
Adding a modular home to an existing home will typically cost 10% to 20% less than building a modular home outright. Additions will also cost less since they don’t require extensive site preparation to install.
Are Modular Homes Good Investment?
Modular homes have risen in quality over the past years and are appraised using the exact metrics used in valuing traditional stick-built houses. Modular homes offer similar investment value to stick-built homes.
Modular homes offer features most buyers crave, such as:
- Quality exterior materials.
- 9 feet and greater ceiling height.
- Open floor plans.
- Energy efficiency.
- High-end finishes and materials.
Furthermore, you can install many features and make customizations to increase the value of your modular home. If you are considering purchasing new construction, this type of house will cut costs and help you complete the project faster.
How Long Does It Take To Finish a Modular Home?
It takes roughly four to six weeks to finish a modular home from when the modules are delivered to the construction site. However, a large or multi-story modular home will take longer to complete.
Contractors may quote around four to six months from the period they get a signed contract to a completed installation. However, shipping delays, materials shortages, logistics, and other unforeseen circumstances may cause the project to be completed much later.
Always maintain constant communication with your contractor to keep track of the building’s progress.
Do Modular Homes Make Use Of Building Codes?
There is no difference between modular homes and traditional houses except for how they are assembled and set up. Modular homes must strictly follow all national, state, and municipal building codes.
No matter where the residence was initially built, it must adhere to local building regulations wherever it is located. Building codes for environmental protection are included in this in states like California. As a result, you can have confidence in the modular home you purchase.
You must secure building permits for your kit home and ensure it adheres to your local safety codes.
What Companies Build Modular Homes?
- Heckaman: Available in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. They build homes between 1,400 and 2,800 square feet. Also, they build one and two-story homes. Their base price is $75 to $100 per square foot.
- Clayton: Based in the United States and offers clients with variety of plans and options ranging from $75,000–$150,000 as a base price.
- Pratt: Available in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. They offer a seven-year warranty on structures and appliances. Their base price is $65 to $85 per square foot.
- Kent: Available in Atlantic Canada and Maine. They build homes between 200 and 2,500 square feet. Also, Kent constructs tiny homes alongside one and two-story buildings. Their base price is $120 to $175 per square foot.
- Champion: Available in Western Canada and the United States. They build homes between 400 and 2,700 square feet. This modular home company offers a 7-year factory warranty.
- Homeway: This modular home is domiciled in Southern Illinois. They build homes between 200 and 2,500 square feet. Homeway offers additions and customizations that fit in any design, and they provide clients with a 1-year warranty on construction. Their base price is $120 to $180 per square foot.
Living in a modular home can be a good option for many people. The average modular home will cost less than a traditional home with a similar size and features. A modular home can fit into your budget if you want to build a home on a limited budget.
Before developing your investment plan, determine what you need because the price of a modular home may be exactly in line with your budget.
Before you go all into committing to this type of project, understand the pros and cons that come with it. You could also consult with someone with much expertise on the housing criteria and the things you likely need to put in place. A real estate attorney could be included in your plans before signing a contract to build a modular home.