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Why I hate modular homes


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I was out to look at a brand new, just placed modular this morning to estimate installing a door and window into the basement. The monkeys that placed the boxes couldn't figure out what to do with a nail fin window and a prehung door. I declined the project, because I didn't want anything to do with this mess. The camera angles exaggerate the problems but they are nearly as bad as they look.

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These openings are out of plumb, out of square, and out to lunch. The plans clearly indicate the rough opening sizes but the foundation crew apparently can't read. The window opening is an inch too narrow and ten inches too tall, the door opening is nine inches too wide and over two feet too tall. Given how far they missed these by, it's a wonder they got the box size right. They must have forgotten the vibrator the day of the pour, I've never seen so many voids in one wall, ever.

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There are 4 of these columns, and everyone of them was as poorly placed as this one. They're as far from plumb as they are from center. The floor looks nice and flat, doesn't it. At least there's lots of adjustment left.

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Nice footings too. What do you suppose those funny straps are for?

This is the norm for these things around here. Crappy prep, and crappy placement equals a crappy building. If I where the AHJ there'd be no CO on this one.

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Ok, but every one I see is this fooked up. Nobody knows how to set them, so the trailer guys do it. The trailer guys have no idea how to do anything but trailers, so everything is wrong.

I should have taken a pic of the site, it was a pig sty. The building is junk too, an amalgamation of cheap trucked in and placed by maroons.

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From a long past discussion of modulars several years back.......

"I read an article a while back in a local hick newspaper that the #1 cause of problems w/installing mfg. homes comes from the fact that a great many of them are whacked into bridge abutments, telephone poles, or otherwise mangled on roadside entaglements while being transported to their sites. This account was not researched by me for accuracy, or anything else; I found it so humorous, I did not want to dispute that, for me, was explanation enough for all the thoughts I've ever had about modular homes.

If anyone has ever seen one installed, & I have, the average mfg. home installer appears to be on leave from managing the Tilt-A-Whirl @ the county fair. It is not surprising that they can't calculate turning radius or forsee imminent impact from various immovable objects; they are probably dizzy from carnival induced vertiginous discombobulation, i.e., they're stoned.

Shoot that doesn't make them that far removed from other construction workers. No wonder those things are all ****ed up."

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The problem really resides with the retailer/dealer--say that quick and it sounds a lot like realtor. And they are a lot alike-to suck the most money out of the deal they cheap-out on the biggest expense which is the installation. Just like good and bad HIs, there are good and bad installers. Manufactured home (nee trailer) installers are now licensed by NY department of state, and this has raised the performance level to some extent-sorta like licensing HIs[:-dunce]. In fact, when an installer applies his seal to a manufactured home, he is certifying the propriety of every system in the home--inluding the on-site work of the electrical service, the gas service, the water service, the foundation structure and on and on. This is backed up by a cash bond for rework that is directly accessible to the NYS DOS. There is no certification needed for installers working on modular homes!! The AHJ needs to get seriously involved in all of these installs in order to improve the conditions you describe.

Of course, the majority of my inspection work is a direct result of consumer complaint activity--so let's not fix too quickly[:-tong2]

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There are good and bad modulars as with anything out there. The issues you point out are items by the site builder not the modular company. It is important to not only know the quality of the modular company but also the site builder. Some builders do their own setting of the home.

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  • 1 year later...

I have been selling and installing modular homes for my entire life. (3rd generation modular home builder) It sounds like the local builder for the modular here is inexperienced or incompetent. It's a shame, because most of the modular home builders in today's market are not qualified to install or complete what they sell. They use modular construction because they do not understand the basic components of construction. Most of them make better sales people than contractors.

As a 3rd generation modular home builder, who has also completed numerous site built homes, I can honestly and whole-heartedly say that modular construction is much more precise than site built home construction when done right. In States with a lack of organized building codes, such as Vermont and New Hampshire where I build, they are a powerful resource.

The manufacturer can also make a huge difference. Don't always go with the cheapest modular you can find- just like with anything else, cost differences are usually justified by better quality of work and materials. We use Ritz-Craft Modular Homes, and have found them to be one of the best performing modular homes available.

Drew Pierce

Mountain View Modular Homes, Inc.

Rutland, Vermont

Custom Modular Homes

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This is a 4 box mod, 2 wide by 2 long, done by one of the better builders here.

This pic clearly shows missing insulation, all 4 boxes had similar conditions.

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So much for factory controlled build quality...

There were site problems too, like the marriage of all 4 boxes on a single 4" column. The bearing surface was bent 1/2" and was crushing the beams by 3/8". I wish I could find the picture.

There are plenty of really nice mods out there, I've seen them at IBS. None of the manufacturers I spoke with will ship to NY. I guess I won't be seeing any in the field.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some more modular fun from this week. This is a 2 box unit approx 24 x 50. Check out the way the decided to raceway the branch circuits around the entire perimeter of the building:

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Except for the loose phone line in the pic, the bundle includes phone and cable TV runs. Just out of the frame on either side are the 8" bottom chord bearing floor trusses, finger jointed 2x2 webs and 2x3 chords, where one cable is loosed from the bundle and stapled to a web. The zip ties are roughly every other bay. Quality stuff.

I was in this one yesterday. Not exactly a modular, but; the two story part was trucked in whole. It's sitting on skids. The first addition to the left is sitting on landscape timbers. The porch will eventually be enclosed with wood framed screens for summer and visqueen panels for winter. 640SF of heaven...

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Nope. The man who originally placed it there lived in it 5 months out of the year and wintered somewhere warm. The current owner was living there with his dog, but now is making improvements to the building to please his new lady friend. He's been living there 9 years.

Didn't you notice the dish?

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Some more modular fun from this week. This is a 2 box unit approx 24 x 50. Check out the way the decided to raceway the branch circuits around the entire perimeter of the building:

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Except for the loose phone line in the pic, the bundle includes phone and cable TV runs. Just out of the frame on either side are the 8" bottom chord bearing floor trusses, finger jointed 2x2 webs and 2x3 chords, where one cable is loosed from the bundle and stapled to a web. The zip ties are roughly every other bay. Quality stuff.

I was in this one yesterday. Not exactly a modular, but; the two story part was trucked in whole. It's sitting on skids. The first addition to the left is sitting on landscape timbers. The porch will eventually be enclosed with wood framed screens for summer and visqueen panels for winter. 640SF of heaven...

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Where is the outhouse? Was it a two story unit?

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Morgan, it actually felt pretty spacious. The end facing the pic is the living room. From the mid point back is the kitchen on the left and dining area on the right. Behind the kitchen is the bath with a winder stair in the right rear corner. All of this was in the gambrel part, with the sleeping area upstairs. The addition on the left is an open space separated from the rest by a sliding glass door. The lady friend has designs on this space, a closet instead of a coat tree, windows instead of storms, and room to entertain. She also is making him paint and freshen the rest of the space.

It seems the poor bastard is getting as remodled as his house.

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