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Modular Homes vs. 100% Site Built vs. HUD

Modular home construction is nothing new and has been around since the early 20th Century. Sears Roebuck Company was the first company to offer modular homes, known as Sears Modern Homes. These modular homes, which were a bit simpler to build in their early days, were sold through their popular catalog. You can read much more about this on their Wikipedia page.

Nationwide Homes joined the modular home construction industry in 1959, making us one of the oldest modular home companies in the U.S. Read about our tradition on our history page.

Below are facts about modular home construction. We will define the modular home process and compare modular home construction to other forms of home-building, primarily homes built 100% onsite and also manufactured homes (also known as HUD-Code Homes).

Modular Homes Defined

Let's start by defining a modular home - this is a home constructed in a factory, away from your property, in a controlled environment and then delivered to your job site. "Modular home" is the most common term used, but they are also known as - systems-built homes, factory-built and off-site construction. Modular homes are built to the same local and state codes as 100% site-built homes and are considered "real property." This is important when you apply for a new home loan.

Nationwide's Martinsville, Virginia factories employ over 100 associates that sell, design and only build modular homes to a system of approved, independent builders/contractors. These builders have (some still do) built homes 100% onsite until they learned about the benefits of modular construction. The construction of a modular home is approximately 85% complete at our factory. Once the home is delivered to your property, Nationwide Homes, in cooperation with the independent builder will erect your home on your foundation. The builder will then complete the approximate remaining 15% of the construction onsite. This may also include all site work, including garages, porches, driveways, sidewalks, water & septic, yard, etc. 

To see the process in detail, check out our Anatomy of the HiPerformance Modular Home.

100% Site-Built Homes Defined

Homes that are 100% built onsite - also known as "stick built" or "site built" - is just that, all the materials are delivered to the jobsite and constructed using various subcontractors and 3rd party vendors. You probably have seen bundles of lumber, sheathing and roof trusses on a property. This is the most common building method in America today. However, it typically takes a bit longer to build a home and there are factors that you should consider:

  • Weather delays
  • High moisture content in the lumber, which can cause mold and mildew
  • Material theft from jobsite
  • Logistic problems due to multiple venders
  • Inspection delays or rework due to failed inspections

This maybe the most common building method today, but modular construction is rapidly becoming a popular alternative due to all the benefits - see Modular Home Facts below.

Manufactured Homes Defined

Manufactured homes are built to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development codes (HUD) and must be permanently attached to a black steel frame, which acts as a support for the floor system. Once the home arrives to your property, the wheels and axles are removed. Other names for these homes are - mobile homes, singlewides, doublewide, triplewides, trailers and HUD homes. These homes are typically considered "personal property." Manufactured homes are also built in a factory and delivered to your property; however, they often use lower-cost materials than modular homes.

Manufactured homes are very simple to build - they are either built using one unit (singlewide), two units (doublewide) or 3 units (triplewide) and are typically ranch models only. These homes often do not include finished drywall, sometimes using decorative wall panels similar to wallpaper. 

Manufactured/Modular Hybrid Homes Defined

Manufactured/Modular Hybrid homes are also known as "on-frame" modular homes. These are typically built by manufactured home companies' when they build to the minimum local and state codes so that they can market their homes as modular. They are not true manufactured homes, nor true modular homes. These homes are typically still built on permanent black steel frames. Hybrids are typically built with lower quality materials and are therefore more affordable, and they can be sold & financed as "real property" such a modular or 100% site-built home. However, this is starting to change in many areas - if a home has a permanently attached steel frame, the building permitting offices are starting to take notice and consider them manufactured homes even though they are code-compliant enough to pass as a modular home.

These Manufactured/Modular Hybrid homes, like manufactured homes, are typically only built as ranch homes and can come in one, two, or three sections. Hybrid homes can also be built as cape cods, but not two stories due their steel frames.

Modular Home Facts

  • Modular homes do appraise the same as 100% site-built homes.
  • Modular homes do not depreciate in value. Manufactured homes do.
  • Modular homes can be customized.
  • Most modular home companies have their own in-house engineering department. Nationwide Homes does have our own engineering department that uses CAD (Computer Aided Design).
  • Modular home designs can be various styles: ranch, cape cod, two-story, multiple stories, apartments, condos, townhomes and additions.
  • Modular construction is also used for commercial applications such as offices.
  • Modular homes are permanent structures - "real property."
  • Modular homes can be built on the following foundation types: crawlspace, basement, piers and coming soon - engineered slab system.
  • Modular homes are inspected during each phase of construction at the plant by independent 3rd party inspectors.
  • Modular homes are faster to build than a 100% site-built home saving you extra construction interest payments. This is where the savings begins.
  • Home loans for modular are the same as if buying a 100% site-built home.
  • Insuring your modular home is the same as a 100% site-built home.
  • Taxes on a modular home are the same as 100% site-built home.
  • Modular homes offer hundreds of personalized features such as - ceramic floors, solid surface countertops, various cabinets styles and wood species, exterior finishes, plumbing fixtures, etc. Basically, you can include anything you want in our homes.
  • Modular homes are typcially heavier than 100% site-built homes due to extra material used for delivery.
  • Modular homes have been the preferred method of construction on popular TV shows, such as, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Nationwide was the first modular builder to be featured on the Emmy Award winning show - May 2010 (Williams Family).

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Building with modular construction allows homes to be delivered up to 90% complete and built in one-third the time.