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pre fabbed homes

1473 Views 26 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  tiogacounty
So my wife and daughters and I live in a very rural area. But we are thinking of relocating to another part of the state. What I'm curious about is the details of pre fabbed houses. Are they of quality homes, or are they more like a house trailer ? (no offense to anyone living in a house trailer). Any information is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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In general, a prefab is a stick built home that just happens to be built inside a factory. It really depends on who builds it. My MIL lives in one and you would be hard pressed to tell it was a prefab.

Go visit the company you're thinking of buying from and ask for a tour.
if the metal frame stays on, its a lessor valued home acording to the apprasiors and banks, if it is on a foundation and the metal frame went back to the factory its a higher valued home and the banks are more apt to lend money on it
Well I came from a family of carpenters and my dad was a small residential contractor/builder for most of his life.

We need to clear up some confusion....

There is two types of construction : On site and off site.

To me on site construction can have some components made off site, or can be pre-cut off site, or can be done completely on site.

Off site construction is anything made completely or almost completely in a factory. There is two categories: modular and single/double-wide homes (built on a metal frame to support wheels for transportation.

The modular homes are built in sections small enough to be hauled on a large trailer to the home site and then the various sections (usually 2 or more) are set on the foundation and then there is significant on site work which may take a few weeks to complete. With these homes you get a deed (house is permanently attached to the property)

Single/double-wide housing is built on a trailer frame and you get a title similar to one for a tow behind trailer (house is mobile and can be moved to another property). Usually takes a few days of on site work to complete.

Some generalizations:
Single/double-wide trailer homes use a less stringent code (HUD code) which does not reguire the quality that the Modular home has (which is built according to your state building code requirements.... usually Universal Building Code)

My dad always pre cut his homes off site and usually pre-fabed wall sections off site and usually had the roof on covered with paper and in the dry within 2-3 days of on site work (assuming foundation is already constructed)

I had a small business for 12 years making all of the interior spindled railings for a factory that made both modular and double-wide housing

I have a friend who works in a single/double-wide factory where the homes are on an assembly line and you have a very fixed and limited time to get it done..... he said if he bought one it would be without kitchen cabinates or trim, and positively could not be one made Friday afternoon .... THINK ABOUT IT !!!!

Also ..... often materials in factory homes are cheaper .... such things as carpet and siding ..... and will wear out much sooner.

I know of a quality modular home factory that permits you to choose everything .... you can even use cabinates from a custom shop!

Homes built in a factory where the "weather" is constant is not a bad idea .... fighting a house up on site in bad weather can affect the quality of the construction.

Hope this helps you in making that big decision!
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Mobile homes move around
Modular homes are build off site and moved to the site

The last will have more expense and value involved than the first. Either can be of poor or good quality.
I don't take offense from your statement...I bought a double wide home about 15 yrs ago. If your willing to put the work into it to upgrade it- they are great....especially if you make sure you get drywall instead of wallboard (we didn't- but we replaced all the wallboard with drywall) and they now offer laminate flooring in them (they didn't back then), leave out the kitchen cabinets and trim and doors unless you can get solid wood trim. Do know they nail the heck out of everything they can with staples and the cabinets are below cheap. The roof pitch is the biggest indicator and the windows being low- but we put on an extra row of siding once it was on the foundation so not as noticeable from the outside. Other than that many people are surprised when we tell them it is a double wide. It sat in a park for a year until I could find it is on a crawl space (though really wish I had the extra money to get a basement). We bought what we could afford and upgraded as we went. The drywall was put in, wood molding (baseboard, window and door trim, crown molding), we built arches with columns to get rid of the ceiling seam, we replaced all the hollow core doors with paneled doors, ripped up the carpet in most rooms and put down hardwood floor, ripped out the linoleum and put in ceramic tile and marble, upgraded all the light fixtures (well still have the kitchen to do, but have them in my closet), will be tearing out the kitchen cabinets and putting in "real" ones, and then a few other things that I changed because I love the victorian style (claw foot tub and pedestal sink will be installed in second bath, replaced sink in master bath with a wood cabinet and drop in sink, will be installing an antique fireplace surround to replace the field stone one that came with it, etc). If I was young and short on cash- I would do it again. It was the only way I could afford enough house to get into the country at the time with 3 kids when I needed to be able to have something that didn't need anything done right now. Back then I was short on money and it was a good solution. On the plus side, my sons all learned how to drywall, stain and varnish, install doors, build things, tile, etc. and we had plenty of house for our family at a lower cost. On the down side, my house has been in stages of remodel for the last 9-10 yrs. Still have the guest bathroom and the kitchen to complete.
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we have a top of the line double wide..70' x 32'...we like it a is really high quality as it is schedule for north..heavy duty walls, windows and insulation..can't hear anything outside.

some things to watch for are ductwork and plumbing problems ..the work in those areas tend to be kina shoddy..but otherwise we are pretty happy with ours..had it 7 1/2 years
I will preface this by saying that I have been in so really nice manufactured homes BUT I don't think I would ever buy one (unless it was really inexpensive) in the area I live it. The current mortgage market for manufactured homes is almost non-existent. Because of this selling or financing a manufactured home is a nightmare which leads to people having to sell for less, which in turn drops the value of manufactured homes. If I was to build on a basement, I would definitely do a modular home. As far as quality goes I would suggest a Verndale home, they are top of the line. I am in a lot of homes and Verndale have been very impressive. It is nice to have everything finished and ready to move in within a week of so of it being delivered.
We bought a modular home when Dh retired & we moved to our property here in northern Michigan. We Love our home, it's exactly what we wanted, not anything like a trailer. Our Insulation & windows are top quality & I think better than some stick built homes, our drywall, & carpet was done on site & well as finishing the roof. We had a full size basement done to the exact size of the house, had a covered front porch, attached 2 car garage, patio & deck in the back. We also got to pick out our cupboards, had a walk in pantry added to the plans as well as moving a bathtub, etc. Depending on the company you are working with, some are very good about doing things you want & others are not. I actually seen a model I really liked but that company wouldn't work with us on any changes so they didn't get our buisness.

It may not sell for as much as a stick built home but I plan on living here until I die so after that what ever family get's from the sale of our home & 40 acres will be more than they had before I figure.
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I've known several pre-fabs over the years (as well as manufactured/double wides).
To be sure, they're just as good as a stick built (because they are a stick built), so long as it's a good company that's the builder. And a prefab will be considered a stick-built house as soon as it's attached to the foundation so far as taxes, legal classifications, etc. are concerned.

The last house we lived in was a pre-fab from the late 70s. It was tight, had good windows and doors, and was built over a full, finished basement. It was about 3,000 square feet of living space, and was easily the nicest house we've lived in.
On the other hand, my grandparents' house, which my folks just sold since they've both passed, was the exact same age but built by a different company. The taped seams were loose, the ceiling was flaking, there were cracks along the connecting points to the foundation, etc.

All of that said, I won't live in one.
I refuse to live in a "modern" built house (with all of their off-gassing and environmental contaminants) that is less than 5 years old.
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Thanks for all the reply's folks. It's a big help. Willowynd, I know what you mean. Some very good friends have a single wide that that has been completely re-done with wood walls, ceilings, and additions. It's awesome.

We have a pretty nice house now (if I do say so, modestly) but when we move we'd like to maximize on what we get for our house and square up so to speak and not owe anybody, anything! I know yall can understand that.

Any suggestion on where I can further research this topic will be greatly appreciated as well. Thanks again.

the cheapest way to get a nice house is to build it yourself.
Ie, swing your own hammer.
We looked at factory built homes... Well, we looked at adding a factory built addition to our house. Because of my recent health changes we can't do any addition right now. The quality of construction depends on the builder, just as site construction does. The builder we'd like to use has much better construction quality than most other local builders.
You get what you pay for. If you want a quality modular home, you will pay just as much as you would for an on site "stick built" one. If you want a mobile home or modular because they are cheaper, keep in mind there are reasons they are cheaper. If a mobile home is being lived in by an adult couple, it will last much longer than if the same couple raised their kids in it. True with any home, but much more so with a mobile home. A mobile home that is placed on a foundation (crawl or basement) will last much longer than one on blocks, especially if growing children are involved.

I would not buy a mobile home, modular, or have a home built on site in this economy because you can get such great deals on existing homes.
WOW, this is the first time in many years on this thread that ALL the responses are reasonably accurate and helpful on this subject. As a stick builder and the owner of a modular home, I have a bit of insight on both. Currently, I am helping a friend with a 1500 sq. ft mod. that we are in the process of "building". It is a high quality product. (I spent a day at the factory grilling the management and crawling around their product) It is a state code ranch, built to the ridicliously strict 2009 IRC code. The owner provides a foundation, supplies and installs the incoming power, water and sewer connections and makes site improvements like exterior steps, driveway etc. The dealer and manufacturer do EVERYTHING else. The total cost of the dealer/ manufacturer portion of the projest is less than $75K. This is less than $50/sq. ft, or roughly the sq. ft cost of a stick built two car garage in these parts. If I stick built this same unit, my cost would be roughly $90K. That said, another poster hit a far more important point. Due to the implosion of the real estate market, I would strongly suggest that the OP look at every available existing home in their price range before commiting to building. In my area thing are stupid cheap, and fairly new homes can be had for far, far less that they cost to build.
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I too am amazed at the accuracy of reporting here. I grew up in a "National" home and never knew that it was a prefab. National homes were some of the original post-war prefabs, where walls were delivered and erected on-site. That type of pre-fab is rare now.

I take issue with the "less stringent" HUD code. HUD codes used to be very low, but in Alabama the HUD code is actually stronger than the southern building code, which isn't even enforced in many counties.

You do get what you pay for in modular and manufactured housing, but you also avoid paying for a lot of stuff that is simply waste or overhead in on-site building. We looked at having an on-site cookie cutter home built, and the cost was beyond what we wanted to pay and would have meant a mortgage. By going to high-end manufactured, we upgraded to 6" walls, larger rooms, and a much more workable floor plan. The exact same plan could have been done as a modular, which in retrospect I might have done. Insurance on manufactured housing is higher.

Is the depreciation in a manufactured home a real issue? In some cases, yes. In a lot of others, heck NO! Consider that IF a home appreciates in value - no longer an assured gain and we just saw a post about one that sold for $200,000 a few years back and now sold for $26,000 - that the inflated value means you pay more for taxes and insurance. In addition, the higher price tag means a mortgage. If you have a mortgage, you PRAY for hyperinflation. Otherwise, all the interest you pay is money for nothing.

If you buy manufactured, your value is in the land. Land is a much safer investment than a structure. If you bought a used manufactured home to put on it, you may have paid less than the cost of an automobile. How many automobiles last twenty and thirty years? People think nothing of buying new cars every few years, and think nothing of paying on 30 year mortgages and refinancing to extend the loans. These same people then call buying a manufactured home a poor investment? Uhhhhhh, right.

Cabinets. Our cabinets are fine with one exception - the drawer rails terminate in a cheap plastic support. I had to make ones out of wood and replace those. Faucets - our faucets are nice and work well, but when I had to replace a diverter valve I had to order on the net. Delta is a national standard, and having Banner fixtures is like owning an Amiga back when everyone owned the Apple ][.

Flex ducts. I hate flex ducts. If there is a mouse within a mile, it will find the flex duct and chew holes in it and make a nest.

Manufactured and modular homes give you solid shells that are the basis of a good home. They do so at a price that can't be beat. If you don't put in a dime then they are like any home, they will have problems and look bad. If you spend the money for proper foundations and block wall skirting, and then keep up with maintenance, they are an incredible value.
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I think a differentiation needs to be made:

Manufactured homes (aka trailer houses/doublewides/etc.) can depreciate and are not considered in the same class as other housing.

Prefabs/Modulars are considered a house (taxed and insured as such) as soon as they're placed on their foundation.
Any future buyers would never know they were built in pieces unless someone tells them because there will no legal classification differences between them and any other stick-built house.
They are considered a stardard, stick-built house and won't really appreciate or depreciate any differently than any other house in the market.
When building a pre-fab be careful of not using there floors, appliances, etc. and doing it yourself to save money. They never fully credit you what those things are worth.
When building a pre-fab be careful of not using there floors, appliances, etc. and doing it yourself to save money. They never fully credit you what those things are worth.
Credits are the biggest scam in the industry. They try to add at least 200% to the cost of any requested "extras" and give back 25% of the cost of credits. When I did my own place, the manufacturer tried to claim it was cheaper to modify one of his stock plans to match the CAD drawing I did for bid, rather than build a custom unit Then the BS started. There is a deeply ingrained car salesman mentality in the industry. Once they had attempted to add $15k for a few thousand in changes, I said that I needed to stop wasting time and find a manufacturer who wanted my business. That ended the game, and suddenly we were back to very competitive figures. It doesn't matter how good of a product they build, most will try to steal from you on credits and extras. Remember, it's your money, your time ,and your choice. If you don't like the terms, renegotiate or head for the door.
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