Exploring Modular Homes: Size and Cost Considerations

Two considerations for building a modular, or prefabricated home involve shipping size and cost.

Because the components to modular homes are built offsite – including most finishes – before being shipped to the buyer the overall size of the package being shipped is smaller, or is shipped in multiple modules. The final site (see left photo featuring BluHomes) is where all parts are assembled, with the final product looking like most other homes.

A standard modular home package that is shipped by road can measure anywhere from 300 square foot cabin to a two-story home. Wardcraft Homes, based in Clay Center, KS, and with other plants in Minden, NE and Fort Morgan, CO, ships a standard premanufactured unit or box, measuring 15’ x 60’. Martin Schneider, a project manger, says two such units, when married together at the final destination, will provide a three-bedroom, two-bath, ranch home. But he points out that Wardcraft considers itself a builder of custom homes

Everything Wardcraft ships comes with exterior and interior finishes, including, lighting, plumbing and HVAC. Schneider says options in Wardcraft ranch homes run from 1100 square feet to 1700 square feet.

“If you’re comparing stick-built to modular homes, there’s not much difference in cost,” he says, adding that labor is about the same price, as is the wood. “The savings you’ll find is the efficiency and the quality (factory, computer-controlled manufacturing).”

He adds there is a lower cost on construction financing, due to the quicker turnaround. Stick-built construction financing is generally planned for 12 to 18 months. Modular home construction normally runs 180 days.

According to a modular home information website, because homes are built in sections in protected, weatherproof facilities and tested before they are delivered to the lot, overall quality and material stability is better.

Because modular units are constructed indoors, some may ask if there is much difference between today’s modular home and one of is predecessors, the trailer.

According to the website, a mobile home may be similar in category because it follows the same codes of construction. However, a modular is not mobile after it is finished. “The mobile home is brought in on a trailer and can be left on it and moved at a later date.” The article concludes, “The only difference between a standard built home and modular is the place it is constructed.”

Next time, we will look at design details, including energy efficiency.

About the Author

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.
  • This post was very nicely written, and it also contains many useful facts. I enjoyed your distinguished way of writing this post.

  • I think it’s great you can order a quality modular home. One issue in the industry is construction standard and timber grades which leads to maintenance issues.

    Fact is that these homes are so similar to having your own custom builder your assured the house can stand the test of time, and as for the materials being protected it’s great, to many slap together job involve green timber but that’s another subject all together.

  • Great modern design! Why modern design houses seem to cost more than traditional?

  • Modular architect is regaining popularity with both young and older home buyers.