Modular Home vs Fixer upper

Asked by Jennifer, Long Branch, NJ Fri Jan 9, 2009

Can anyone tell me if it would be less expensive to purchase a lot for a reasonable price and investing in a modular home vs a fixer upper? Also can you negogiate the sale of a lot?

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Jeff, , Virginia Beach, VA
Fri Jan 9, 2009

You can get some exotic and large homes in modular construction.…

Your pricing assumptions are correct generally. They can also be built and ready for occupancy faster than a site built home, so that is a factor for some situations.

I like the much hardier standard construction elements you get in every modular, like 2 X 6 exterior wall framing vs. 2 X 4. You also get the latest and properly installed insulation even on the piping (where possible). And the other basics like plastic composite materials on face and freeze boards so it will never rot are just icing on the cake.

Antedotal information suggests they are also much more structurally sound and resist wind, earthquake and things like trees falling on them much better too.
1 vote
Jeff, , Virginia Beach, VA
Fri Jan 9, 2009

I am an engineer and former project manager for a Green Building General Contractor.

This is the first post I have read where some important answers are completely wrong. I wish people who have no idea what they are talking about (Vicki and Lynn) would just keep quiet.

Modular homes, which are frequently confused with manufactured (formerly called mobile) homes, are designed, permitted and constructed to meet all applicable building codes exactly like a site built structure.

After the plans are approved by the local building authority, modular homes are built in sections in a factory setting, indoors, where they are never subjected to adverse weather conditions. The sections move through the factory, with the company's quality control department checking them after every step. Finished modules are covered for protection, then transported to the home site. They are placed on a slab or crawl space foundation just like a site built house, joined, and completed by the contractor and inspected by the local building authority throughout the process.

A modular home is far better constructed and subjected to much more quality control measures than any site built home. Modular homes are also far better insulated and can be easily designed to achieve an Energy Star rating wheras almost no site built home can achieve this rating. To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes.

On the other hand:

Manufactured homes means a structure subject to federal regulation, which is
transportable in one or more sections; is eight body feet or more in width and
forty body feet or more in length in the traveling mode, or is 320 or more square
feet when erected on site; is built on a permanent chassis; is designed to be used
as a single-family dwelling, with or without a permanent foundation, when
connected to the required utilities; and includes the plumbing, heating, airconditioning,
and electrical system contained in the structure.

Manufactured homes are designed, constructed, and approved under a Federal
program administered by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD). HUD promulgates standards, which may not be
superseded or amended by state or local governments. State or private agencies
are accredited and monitored by HUD to review designs and inspect
construction of homes to assure compliance with Federal construction standards.
State or local code officials may not enforce construction requirements, which
conflict with any HUD standards for manufactured homes.
1 vote
Laura Gianno…, Agent, Manahawkin, NJ
Fri Jan 9, 2009
Perhaps modular homes have a different definition in other states. Here in NJ, modular homes are considered those homes that have sections built elsewhere and assembled onsite. That is different that a manufactured home, which is transported fully built and set on your site (a mobile home).

On the plus side, if you purchase a modular home you'll have the benefit of NJ's new home warranty program, and most reputable modular home companies are great about getting any little kinks worked out quickly. If you are new to homeownership, I would recommend you pay a little extra and have the modular home company act as the general contractor to ensure permit compliance. You should pick the home first, before the lot. You'll need to do that so the home itself will meet zoning requirements like set backs for side and rear yard.

And yes you can negotiate the sale price of a lot.

I have sold many modular homes and a very good friend purchased one a fews years back. She loves it!

Good Luck!
1 vote
William Leigh…, , New Jersey
Fri Jan 9, 2009
Jennifer: OOOPS! I forgot- yes you can negotiate the price of a lot. I have one listed that I think is really great and we are asking for offers. I'm not saying that any offer will be accepted but I do know that any offer will be given consideration!

Best of Luck!
0 votes
William Leigh…, , New Jersey
Fri Jan 9, 2009
Jennifer: There's no difference! A modular home, as we understand it in NJ, is built in sections at a factory where the production process is usually less expensive and trucked to the site where it has a "final assembly." Once finished, you can't tell it from on-site construction. There may be quality issues between manufacturers but I'll be honest and say have no idea about the good versus the bad.

A fixer upper, on the other hand, is a highly variable entity. A little fix or a lot? Great location or so-so? Exactly what you want and need or barely a fit?

In either case, you will need to work with contractors, even if you can do some of the work yourself, unless the "fix up" is just painting, which you want to do yourself. I'd say that the modular house would be a more straightforward deal, because it comes with pretty standard construction, whereas the fixer-upper can be anything at all and perhaps something you miss early on that come out after you are halfway done and adds a ton of time and money to your project. On the other hand, you will NEVER get a chestnut wood interior trim in a new house and you well might in one built in the 1920's.

Ya pays your money and takes yer cherse, as they say in Brooklyn.
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Maritza Scha…, Agent, Hillsborough, NJ
Fri Jan 9, 2009
Hi Jennifer,
Please keep in mind the every state has different regulations (zoning & building). You may contact your Municipal Building. Yes, you can present an offer on the lot you like! Your local real state agent will be your best adviser !
Good luck
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Dana Schuster, Agent, Slidell, LA
Fri Jan 9, 2009
In addition,you need to consider zoning in the area where you might want to put a modular. Many lots are not zoned for mobiles or modulars. The town of Abita Springs,LA which is near the area where I live,has banned all modulars,because so much damage was done(trees,electric poles,streetlamps) when the modulars were brought in.
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Dallas Texas, Agent, Dallas, TN
Fri Jan 9, 2009
Many lenders will not loan on a modular home and resale value could be limited. Fixer upper is standard home built lenders are more comfortable HOWEVER fixer upper do you have cash income for repairs?

YES you can negogiate on any home or land sale. Your buyers agent can assist you in submitting an offer.
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Victoria Wat…, Agent, Algonquin, IL
Fri Jan 9, 2009
Beware with buying a modular home. Many modulars are considered to be mobile and a mortgage company will not lend on them because they depreciate in value just like a car. Unlike a home that USUALLY appreciates in value every year. Check with your County as well. Here in the midwest they allow very few modular homes because they don't stand up to our building codes. Example..many have wiring that isnt in conduit, they have very little insulation in the walls, plastic pipes instead of copper, all no-nos here! SO check with your County Building Department first to see which are approved manufacturers than make your decision.

That said, I have seen some gorgeous modulars with vaulted ceilings, 2 person jacuzzi tubs, etc. Dont make the mistake of not figuring ALL of your expenses. Its not as simple as buying a lot and a home. You need a septic or sewer systwm, you need a water supply or well, you need electric and gas, then you need someone to hook all of these up to your home, you need some sort of foundation or pad to put this home on, so do the real math , then decide. And yes lots are neogtiable.

Good luck!
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