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Old 01/13/11, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 34
Modular on a basement?

We are thinking of downsizing and putting a modular on a basement on our land and selling our city house.

I'm thinking of sticking a double wide modular on a basement and spiffing it up with some remodeling work. I can get one where I live for like 10 grand or less. They are everywhere.

Does anyone have any experiance with this? Did you miss your old "Nice" house?
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Old 01/13/11, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 34
I figure I could put on some new cedar siding and a new roof, along with some drywall (if I can't find one already with it) and some remodeling inside and it wouldn't be that much different that a real house, it would just look like a rectangle.

But I could get it WAY cheaper than building a real house........
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Old 01/13/11, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 34
I would be getting one with the 2x6 studded frames of course......
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Old 01/13/11, 03:20 PM
halfpint's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Alabama
Posts: 2,585
I haven't done this but have neighbors who have. It was a whole lot cheaper than building a house from scratch for them. They were able to get it without carpet and flooring, and were able to negotiate and get better prices on carpet and the hardwood that they put down. It's been there for a bit longer than 10 years now, and you wouldn't know it was a modular unless someone told you, and most are surprised that they could have a basement with a modular.
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Old 01/13/11, 03:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: N E Washington State
Posts: 4,606
Check the price for putting in the basement and putting the modular on it. Here it will cost you as much as stick built because the basement needs to be deeper to give you room for the supports and the double wide has to modified to go on a basement. You also have to have a crane lift the modular onto the basement.
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Old 01/13/11, 03:55 PM
Callieslamb's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 16,427
Define what you are referring to as modular. Our home was build in blocks and they moved from the construction site onto the prepared basement. Yes, it's pretty rectangular. We looked into having one built for us - it wasn't any cheaper.

We looked at other homes called 'modular' before we bought this one. Many didn't have 2x4 construction - more like 2x3. All the windows weren't a thick as in a stick-built house. The doors were also shorter than 'normal' doors. Trims around the windows were plastic strips rather than wood and the kitchen counters were a bit narrower. Just a few things to think of if you start remodeling. It can certainly be done. We looked at a couple that had sheet rock on the walls as a retro fit. You need to be aware that some things you can't just pick up at Lowe's. Whether you can put it on a basement, I don't know.
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Old 01/13/11, 04:49 PM
Perpetually curious!
Join Date: May 2006
Location: North Central Michigan
Posts: 2,747
I know of many modular homes put on basements here including several family members who own them. They've all been quite satisfied.
Buying used, you'll work with what you have.

But if anyone was thinking about buying new and putting it on a basement..... I would highly recommend ordering one without the flooring, appliances, and kitchen/bathroom cabinets. Have those put in yourself and you'll have a nicer looking house.
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Old 01/13/11, 04:51 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,069
Another regrettable stroll down the lane of deliberate confusion, caused by the mobile home industry. Because, decades ago, they were building atrocious garbage, the government had to step in and put them under HUD's thumb. They were allowed to replace the term "Mobile Home" with HUD code Modular. Unfortunately they quickly muddled the waters and created a mess, doing a lot of damage to the legitimate manufacturer home industry. As is evident in this thread, they successfully created a market that clearly doesn't understand the difference, and it only benefits the trailer industry, not the consumer.
A modular is what it is. A home built in sections (modules) in a factory, and delivered to a standard foundation, and assembled. It is built exactly like a stick home, (with limited exception) inspected, tested and certified before it leaves the factory. Once it is craned up onto a standard foundation, it is 90% complete and has no steel frame, 2x3 walls, low height doors, trailer grade windows, or other junk products and construction techniques typically associated with trailer construction. I live in an extremely high quality modular built in central PA. It has Anderson windows and doors, 2x6 walls, a very steep roof pitch, plywood everywhere, architectural shingles, etc.. It is overbuilt, over-insulated, wired, etc.... and it cost 30% less to complete than a site built home. I moved my family in exactly two weeks after the crane left. If you are shopping for a new or used manufactured home, ask the seller one simple question. Is this house a HUD code, or state code, modular? If they say state, it is a home that is built to standard stick built code requirements for the region it is being sold in. If they say HUD code, it's a trailer. It's that simple. There are good and bad products in both categories, but they are not to be compared Apples to Apples. A trailer is built as a low cost, low end product designed to hit a price point first. A state code product is built to meet a ridged set of structural, mechanical and energy requirements. costs are important, and they can be far cheaper than site built homes. They cannot have vinyl print 1/8" paneling, particle board sheathing, 2x3 walls, or cheap storm windows used as a substitute for decent insulated glass windows. Also, IN THIS MARKET AREA, they are just as valuable an asset as any other stick built house. A HUD code product often depreciates, a state code does not lose value, or have a negative reputation, solely because it was built somewhere else.
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Old 01/13/11, 05:10 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: north Alabama
Posts: 11,256
tiogacounty, in Alabama the reverse is more or less true. The state code and enforcement tends to be lax. Also, current terminology is that doublewides are manufactured homes, modular homes are the ones without the HUD standards. FWIW, when you are in our manufactured home, you can't tell it from a stick built, other than the thicker center wall.

Ours is essentially a modular with the steel frame still attached. I could have bought it as a modular. If I was to do it again, I might go that route because of the cheaper insurance. Otherwise, this place is FAR better built than a lot of stick-builts I've lived in or owned.
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Old 01/13/11, 05:18 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,069
Harry, there sure are wild differences in standards in other parts of this country. There are folks on this forum that are real estate appraisers who claim that any home, not built on site, is seriously devalued in their market. Here it really is a huge deal for "trailers", "single wides", "double-wides", "HUD Code modulars" and anything with an attached frame. State modulars are built to fairly high standards and not an issue. The other big difference is that HUD code products have a vehicle title and a VIN # which can make them pretty suspect when it's time to get financing.
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Old 01/13/11, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: north Alabama
Posts: 11,256
Yep. I totally agree. But then, after we sold our CBS home in Florida, the value of it dropped at least 50%, so playing the real estate appreciation game is always risky. We spent more on property because we spent less on the house. There are always trade-offs.

Last edited by Harry Chickpea; 01/13/11 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 01/13/11, 07:01 PM
Callieslamb's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: SW Michigan
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Just know what you're buying. It's that simple. You can see for yourself what kind of construction a house has.
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Old 01/13/11, 08:00 PM
mtman's Avatar  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: AR
Posts: 2,260
modular is as good as site built
mobil and manufactured are both trailers if they wheel it in it is not a mod. home
Don't complain, just do it
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Old 01/13/11, 09:14 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Central IL
Posts: 1,758
I work with a woman who had a modular (not manufactured = mobile home) built on a basement. It is two-story (four modules). It's a beauty and very well built. Her and her DH spent alot of time investigating companies then spent alot of time with the company because they had a lot of customization done...window placement, good woodwork, etc.
The only thing they regretted was letting the stock kitchen cabinets come with the house. They did replace those after the fact.
Even with all the customization they did the cost per sq. ft. was still significantly lower than a "regular" built house. Regarding their basement, they had the type that is made with pre-made wall panels that has not leaked at all so far. They also had the in-floor heating system done since the basement is finished as a living space.
The house is very nice and certainly changed my mind about modulars.
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Old 01/13/11, 09:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,069
For all of you that recommend deleting various parts of a modular while it's being designed and ordered, be aware of the value of the items you are removing. In my case I eliminated floor coverings, and did some research on other deletes. The credit for the floor coverings was actually about 40% of the real value of even the cheapest carpet that they use. When it came time for things like kitchen cabinets, it would of been silly to order it without. They were offering a credit of pennies on the dollar for that. Extras and upgrades can be the same thing, grossly overcharging can be the norm . Eventually, we had to stop and tell the factory to forget about our business, as they were wildly out of control on costs, once we made a reasonable amount of change requests. They didn't want to lose the business and suddenly came down by about $8K to save the deal. Knowledge is power in these deals. They are happy to let you pay therm to delete something, they make a great deal of profit and get to skip that portion of the job.
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Old 01/13/11, 11:02 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: north Alabama
Posts: 11,256
Good advice there. Buy, strip and sell the builder grade stuff, then replace it. The bulk of the value is in the box itself, whether modular or manufactured.
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Old 01/14/11, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Twining, Mi.
Posts: 19,962
We bought a manufactured home & put it on a full basement. Our home is 2300 sq. feet, 2 X 4 construction, regular height door frames, Quite a few things we changed or ordered different or more windows, etc. Some companies out there are better than others. We did alot of investigating & made sure the company we decided to go with was willing to work with us on things we wanted changed.

We have really nice windows(better than our old house), insulated better than most stick built houses now days & yes our basement height is 8 feet to accomodate for the supports.
It was not put on the basement by a crane, the house was in peices & they rolled it on the basement.
We have regular drywall which was finished on site, carpet installed later, roof was also finished on site.
We've now owned our home for 7 years & we really Love it.

Although it will probly depreciate much faster in value than a stick built home we don't ever plan on moving again in our lifetime so after I'm gone I'm not concerned with how much someone else makes off of my home.

We have a 2 car attached garage, a covered attached front porch, added a deck & patio ourselves later too.

I would say get your own appliances though, they do stick cheap appliances in their houses though.
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Old 01/14/11, 09:18 AM
ErinP's Avatar
Too many fat quarters...
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: SW Nebraska, NW Kansas
Posts: 8,543
Originally Posted by Bigsacks View Post
We are thinking of downsizing and putting a modular on a basement on our land and selling our city house.

I'm thinking of sticking a double wide modular on a basement and spiffing it up with some remodeling work. I can get one where I live for like 10 grand or less. They are everywhere.

Does anyone have any experiance with this? Did you miss your old "Nice" house?
Now this is confusing.

I thought "modular" was the term that referred to the stick-built houses that were just brought in in pieces and places on a permanent foundation.
Once placed, they're considered a stick-built, site-built house, because for all intents and purposes, they are.

But now I see people in this thread saying modular=manufactured/mobile.

That said, most people I know who do modulars (as in, it's considered a "real" house for taxation, valuation, etc) put them on basements.
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Old 01/14/11, 09:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: East TN
Posts: 6,977
Of course it might matter where you live,

I lived in one years back. It was a nice house and I should have bought it at the time. Most couldn't tell it was a modular and the only give away was where the 2 halves were carriage bolted together in the basement. But this was a real modular.
Anything you can buy for 10k and is everywhere is most likely a mobile home. Setting a mobile home on a basement can be a little tricky, it can be done but it better be done right. I have seen it when it goes wrong, not pretty. You will have to have steel cross beams on pillars or have a basement full of pillars to support the house as it's got no support around the sills when set.
"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self confidence"
Robert Frost

Last edited by Beeman; 01/14/11 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 01/14/11, 09:55 AM
huisjen's Avatar  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Maine
Posts: 196
As a residential energy auditor, two of the tightest houses I've seen this last year were modulars. These are 2x6 construction, with good plywood sheathing, decent windows, drywall in most places, and insulated walls. One was a cape, and the other a ranch. They can look like plain rectangles, but they don't have to. And what's wrong with a plain rectangle?

Things to note about these houses: If well built, they can be very good, and building the modules in a factory where it's dry and clean makes that easy. But that's only half the build.

The other half is the installation. Put it on a good foundation. There should be good drainage, a moisture barrier, and solid support. The exterior of the foundation should be insulated down to the footing with rigid foam, and that should be protected above grade with parging or cement board. In this area, a radon abatement system in the foundation would be a good idea. The basement or crawlspace should be part of the conditioned envelope. It's part of the interior of your house. Keep it dry and don't vent it to the outside.

After the modules are set on the foundation, seal and insulate the rim joist with spray foam. Make sure the marriage wall in the center is sealed so that you don't have an air flow path from the basement to the attic. Make sure the bath and kitchen vents are plumbed with rigid plastic pipe that slopes to the outside, so that condensation flows out, rather than back in where it will melt the drywall around the fan. Make sure the furnace vent is properly sealed around the outside of the pipe, so that cold air doesn't get in that way either. Caulk any electrical or plumbing penetrations into the attic. Once all that is done, blow in cellulose to 20" deep. Loose blown, it will settle to 17", which is R-60.

That should leave you with a good tight house. If some idiot tells you that a house should be able to breath, tell them that's why you have operable windows and vent fans.

Obviously, I'm talking about good installation in a northern climate. I'm sure termite infested southerners will have different ways of doing these things.

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