Modular Homes: Accommodations of Ease and Endurance
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Modular Homes: Accommodations of Ease and Endurance

Modular homes are very covenient accommodations. They are durable also. There is much scope in real estate investment in modular buildings today.

Modular homes are very much in use today. They are very convenient in a variety of situations. Modular constructions can be used for schools and classrooms, hospitals, churches, retail stores, military and civilian accommodation, fast food chains, cruise ships and the like. Modular buildings are in use for permanent as well as temporary accommodation purposes. Modular houses are prefabricated sectional buildings. The modules or sections are fabricated in remote manufacturing facilities and then transported to the locations where they are assembled to house units.

Modular homes are not the same as mobile homes. Modular buildings do not have axles or frame and they are carried to the site using flat-bed trucks. However, in some situations modular buildings are built on frames and the frames are used for transporting the buildings to the sites. Modular buildings are also manufactured in multi-level designs and cranes are used to install them. The components for the modular homes are constructed in-house using elaborate manufacturing facilities. There will be an assembly line track to move the modules from one workstation to the next. It is mandatory that the building codes must be adhered to while assembling the various components. Hence independent inspectors carry out meticulous inspection to ensure precision and quality in construction. If properly assembled, modular homes will look just as site-built homes.

Modular Homes and Mobile Homes

Some people equate modular homes with mobile homes. But the two are different in many respects. The main difference arises from the building codes. These building codes determine the types of materials used, the construction and the appraisal norms for lending purposes. For the construction of modular houses, the codes are the same as those of the site-built buildings. Generally, the International Building Code (IBC), IRC and BOCA are used for the construction of modular homes. In some locations the relevant local code is applicable. In the case of mobile homes it is the HUD Code that is used. This code does not have quality standards as high as those for modular houses.

 

Modular Homes are Cost-effective

(1) Modular homes are more cost-effective than on-site buildings. It takes only less time for constructing modular houses. A host of favorable factors contribute to the lower cost of the modular buildings.

(2) As the modular buildings are constructed very fast, there is faster return of investment compared with other constructions. Modular buildings can be constructed within half the time required for the construction of other buildings. This is because unlike in the case of other buildings, in modular houses both the site work and the building construction can be carried out at the same time. This helps in the reduction of cost.

(3) In modular constructions, there is little damage and wastage of building materials since the construction and assembling are done indoors and hence better work efficiency and it also cuts cost to some extent.

(4) Modular houses are most cost-effective in remote regions where on-site constructions are difficult. In remote industrial locations such as mining towns modular homes are much more cost-effective than other kinds of constructions.

(5) Another factor contributing to the low cost of modular houses is the low wastage in construction. As the different sizes and kinds of modular homes are made under regular plans and estimates, there will be no wastage of materials.

Acceptability of Modular Homes

In the marketing of modular homes, there has been some sort of competition from the on-site varieties of constructions. Many buyers and financing companies cannot accept modular homes as equivalent of site-built homes value-wise. Zoning regulations and psychological factors affecting the consumer behavior are major hurdles in the marketing of modular buildings. In many countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, modular houses are very well accepted in regional areas, but in cities on-site construction is still preferred. To win better acceptability for modular homes, some manufactures have begun to call them “off-site construction”. It is believed that in future modular buildings will be indistinguishable from on-site constructions due to the recent innovations in modular construction.

Construction Standards and Codes for Modular Homes

A very significant aspect of the modular buildings is that they are manufactured to local state or council code. That is, the final destination and location of the modular house determines the construction standards of the house. Hence the same type of homes constructed at one manufacturing facility will have different standards. Usually, steel and wooden frames are used for modular buildings. As per the requirements of the local building codes, there can be reinforcements. For instance, houses constructed for difficult conditions such as hurricane-prone regions may have additional bracing.

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Evaluation of Modular Homes

Of late, in the US, the difference in the valuation of modular houses and traditional site-built buildings is narrowing down. In some locations in the US, depending upon the regional real estate appraisal practices of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, modular houses are evaluated at par with the traditional on-site structures. It is expected that for the purpose of zoning, financing and real estate appraisals, there will emerge an equation for the valuation of modular buildings. In Australia, there is separate legislation for the Manufactured Home Parks which are different from permanent modular homes.

Strength of Modular Homes

Studies conducted by various agencies have found that modular houses are generally as strong as traditional site-built homes. However, manufacturers of modular buildings claim that modular homes are manufactured stronger so as to maintain the structural integrity while transported to the site. Anyway, the transportation stress that modular houses undergo while carried from the manufacturing location to the building site will have an adverse effect on the strength of the building. But it would be difficult to assess the magnitude of this impact. FEMA conducted a study on the magnitude of the destruction in the Hurricane Andrew in Dade country Florida and found that the modular homes and traditional homes fared better in the hurricane compared to other constructions.

Modular Homes Installation

Modular homes can be installed on different foundation surfaces. In flood-prone areas they can be erected on stilts. Modular buildings can be assembled on full basements or standard slab at grade. Multi-storied houses are also constructed in the modular structure. Depending upon the local legal stipulations, modular houses can be constructed in several floors. In some Asian locations they can be constructed over 25 floors.

Modular Homes and Mobile Homes

Some people equate modular homes with mobile homes. But the two are different in many respects. The main difference arises from the building codes. These building codes determine the types of materials used, the construction and the appraisal norms for lending purposes. For the construction of modular houses, the codes are the same as those of the site-built buildings. Generally, the International Building Code (IBC), IRC and BOCA are used for the construction of modular homes. In some locations the relevant local code is applicable. In the case of mobile homes it is the HUD Code that is used. This code does not have quality standards as high as those for modular houses.

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REFERENCES:

(1) "Australian Government modular home regulations". http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/repealed_reg/lgheamhr1995693/.

(2) "Modular homes make sense". http://www.bobvila.com/HowTo_Library/Modular_Homes_Make_Sense-Building_Systems-A1854.html

(3) "Modular and Green". http://www.housingzone.com/probuilder/article/CA6349844.html.

(4) "Mining boom housing shortage". http://au.messages.yahoo.com/news/localnews-qld/603/

5) "Green definition of modular buildings". http://www.lifesbox.com/prefabmodularbuilding/2010/07/why-custom-modular-building-is-green/.

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Comments (4)

Very well-researched and informative.

Good to know. Tweeted this one :)

Thank you Stacy Calvert for visiting and commenting

Thank you Phoenix Montoya for visiting and commenting

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