My own experience is that local construction costs do not have to be that high to build a nice home. I built a new home in 2009 and spent well below that http://julianalee.com/diary.htm
As far as modular versus conventional stick built, either can be done.
Top 2 agent nationwide at Keller Williams Realty
Over 20 years experience
Over 1,000 homes sold in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties
Depending on WHERE in Los Altos, you plan to build this home, a modular home might be a great investment. In the "flats" for example, I can see a modular home blending in quite well with other properties in the area. In the hills, however, it might be another issue entirely especially since not all of the lots in the hills are level or even close to level, so I suspect that a lot of the cost involved in building will be spent on regrading the land or even adding posts (if the property is a "view" lot).
Most of all, whether building from scratch or using a modular design, you should plan to make something that meets or exceeds the expectations of buyers in this area for housing. Modular housing has had an undeserved "black eye" in the past due to its boxy construction and lack of interior refinements. Today's modular homes incorporate so many of the finer construction techniques and upgrads to the interiors that it can be hard to see the home as "modular" when you first arrive.
I think it's important to point out that building a home in Los Altos, especially in the hills of Los Altos, is likely to be a pretty complicated task. If you plan to live in the home yourself, then build whatever home you'd like, but if you're looking to build and then resell, don't get too modern or too "old style". Buyers in Los Altos are extraordinarily particular about what they want in a home. It might be worthwhile to look at other homes in the area to get a "feel" for what is desired by buyers in LA or LAH.
Allison James Estates & Homes
Rebates Up to 1.5% of Sales Price to Buyers and Low 1% Listing For Sellers
If you are asking will it's resale value be comparable to a traditional on site stick built home, I'd say yes.
There are 6000+ Realtors in Santa Clara County alone. As with any occupation, law, medicine, etc... all Realtors are not equal in experience, skills, training and effectiveness. Take the time to learn about a few Realtors and interview a couple. Then hire the best. Why not?
If it's a reputable and experienced manufacturer they used kiln dried lumber and have minimal problems with these types of problems. Dave is right, however, you must make sure that what you order is what you want. Change orders, once on the assembly lines, can be quite costly.
Not entirely sure about the $400/sf figure, however. Too many variables i.e. are you including lot cost? What about your upgrades and options i.e. hardwood flooring, exotic countertops, expensive appliances, etc? Is this a multi-story project?
Bottom line? I've been doing this type of development for almost 3 decades. At the end of the day, or should I say project, you will probably only realize about a 10 to 15 percent overall savings after all inherent costs are factored in.
That stated, it's all about turnaround time, ease and safety of construction. There are things that site built construction can offer up that "Factory Built" housing doesn't. If you have an extremely complicated architectural design it may be a better site built project.
Yes, if you like the concept. Some people assume that because they are pre-fab homes that they are not well designed and/or constructed. This is incorrect. There are 3 units on Lassen that you can go take a look at - at least from the outside. The concept is really good and the construction time is very short however you need to have the entire house extremely well planned out. They are built offsite and assembled in a day or two onsite. We had an agent in our office who was very involved with them locally but she moved up to Sonoma. I could contact her for her incites if you would like and then get back to you.
Coldwell Banker - Downtown Los Altos office
You will have to do your due diligence on value. Since they are usually built inside a factory it can usually be built quicker with less disruption to the land and neighbors. When they are built inside, the risk of lumber sitting around in water and getting mold is reduced. They usually can go up quicker than a sight built home minimizing delays due to weather.
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