PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology
PATH Case Study
Saving Time, Money--and Knees
Continued from Page 1
LOWER COSTS, GUARANTEED PRICING
"It costs me on average about 10 to 15 percent less to build a modular home than to stick build it. But I can sell the home for the same price as a stick builder, because a stick-built and a modular home get appraised at the same amount. This has led to bigger profit margins for me."
"In addition, the first time people come in to see me with a floor plan, I can normally price it out right to the penny. That's a big advantage, because when you're stick building and people come in with a floor plan, the best you can say is that it's going to run you about so much a square foot. But customers want to know how much their home is going to cost."
"I can do this because I know definitely how much the house is going to cost me, and I'll know what my onsite costs will be because they are pretty much the same on all the homes. Once you've done a few jobs with a plumber or electrician, they can give you a price as to how much a hook-up is going to cost. Then I can price out the house and guarantee it. That's the other thing: once I order a house from Stratford, no matter what pricing does in that six- to eight-week period when we're waiting for the house to be built at the factory, the price is guaranteed. That's a big deal in this day and age."
SITE PREPARATION AND INSTALLATION
"Proper site prep is very important. You need to compact the soil where the crane will be. You have a 100,000-pound crane lifting a 20,000- or 30,000-pound module. Your site has to be able to hold that weight. You don't want the crane to be slipping or sliding around. If the homeowner is there, that will make them really nervous really fast."
"Also, it's important to make sure that the foundations are square and true. Each module is exactly square and level, so you'd better be sure that your foundation is too. There's little room for error."
"Once the modules are assembled, the home is 95 percent complete. They arrive sheet-rocked, taped, and textured. The plumbing fixtures are already installed, as are the cabinets, trim, and light fixtures. All I have to do is connect the mating walls, where the modules come together. And there may be doorways to sheetrock and tape and texture, but they always send texture material to match what they use in the rest of the house."
[IMAGE: A crane carefully lowers a module into place.]
"The plumbing, ductwork, and wires are already run through the floors, so once the modules are set on the foundation, you just have to hook them up."
EFFICIENT PRODUCTION = COST SAVINGS
"When you stop and think about it, building in a plant is a much more efficient way to build. The workers come in at 8 am, and wherever their hammer was laid down the night before, they pick it up and go to work. When the whistle blows at 4:30, they lay the hammer down and go home."
"When I used to go to a job in the morning, I'd have two or three men. We'd spend 10-15 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon just setting up and tearing down, putting the tools away, covering up material piles, and cleaning floors up. So I was dealing with at least half an hour per man per day that I was paying for essentially taking tools out of my truck and putting them back in. Then in the wintertime after a snowfall, you may spend an hour in the morning clearing the snow. When you start looking at it that way, you begin to realize why there are some savings involved. Plus, the factory buys all of their material on a large scale, so they can get wholesale prices."
"My customers are more satisfied with the process and final product of a modular home. I've had a number of customers tell me that they really like the idea of doing modular because there is much less hassle. They have talked to too many people who have gone through a building process that took many months, and they're really glad they didn't have to put up with that."
Dusick also appreciates the speed of modular construction because it reduces opportunities for customers to make small, but expensive, changes.
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Content updated on 9/27/2006
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Affordable Housing Providers