Modular Homes Section

How to Evaluate a Modular Home Builder

Picking a good modular manufacturer is important. It is even more vital to make sure that you have a great local modular home builder. They will be responsible for preparing the building site and the foundation your new modular home will sit on. They are also going to handle at least the final 10% of work required to finish your home. A local modular home builder can make your dream home a reality but a poorly chosen one can also ruin it. Here are some areas to investigate concerning your modular home builder.

PS As you evaluate your modular home builder make sure to document everything. If the worst case happens you want to make sure you have written documentation to bring to a lawyer. If the best case happens you still will want documentation because all of us forget things. Building a new home is a huge project with many small details. I doubt you want to have any details on your dream home overlooked. Be safe and make sure everything is documented.

This is critical to the entire process. It is definitely worth to pay more upfront and deal with an builder that is experienced with modular homes than instead being a guinea pig for a builder new to the unique issues of modular home construction. To ensure you have an experienced builder here are some questions you may want ask:

  • How long have you been building modular homes?
  • How many modular homes do you build a year?
  • What type of modular home do you mostly build?

Customer Support
No matter how much experience a builder has with modular homes if they are not available to you then their experience will not be very helpful. Make sure that your potential builder will be there for you and that you can reach them when you want to discuss issues with your modular house. Here are some questions to start that conversation:

  • Who will personally help me from start to finish?
  • How can I contact you (cell phone, office phone, home phone, email)?
  • Do you have previous customers I can speak to for a reference?
So far we have an experienced builder who is a superstar with customer service. Now its time to find out about the actual home and the manufacturer that will be building it. Each modular manufacturer has pros and cons. Some modular manufacturers focus on high end homes and others concentrate on smaller budgets. It is a good sign for a modular builder to deal with multiple manufacturers so they can use the one that will best fit your building situation. Here are some basic questions to ask the builder about the manufacturers they are affiliated with:
  • Which modular manufacturers do you deal with?
  • How many homes of each manufacturer have you built?
  • How do they compare to each other and what is their specialties?
  • Can you build a custom design?
  • How long is the wait time before the manufacturer has an open slot for my home?
  • How far into the process can changes be made?

On Site Construction
We are on a roll. But now we need to think about the small details. When modular homes are delivered from the factory they are typically only 70-90% finished. Now is the time to find out who is responsible for tying up the loose ends and turning the modules into a home. Do not worry about asking questions about this. It is better and safer for you to be very clear about this process. Here are some questions to ask the builder about this area:

  • Who will be responsible for preparing the building site?
  • Who sets the modular home?
  • What will be needed to finish the home after it is set and how long will that take?
  • How much experience do you have as general contractor?

Everything sounds good so far. Remember this is your new home and you are going to be in for a long time. You want to make sure your investment is safe. Ask about the warranty. Modular homes usually come with an overall manufacturer warranty and some individual products will also have warranties. Just because there is a warranty does not mean you are covered. Warranties usually have fine print attached to them. Find out the fine print and nail down who will be responsible for what. To help you are some questions to ask:

  • If I have a warranty problem with the home, what needs to happen for it to be fixed?
  • If the manufacturer does not honor their warranty will you honor it?
  • If I have a product warranty issue, who handles it?
  • What is the usual time required to address warranty issues?

Some people may be uncomfortable talking about money but there is no avoiding this. If you are uncomfortable discussing and negotiating money then make a list of questions. It will be easier and less time to have one conversations that answers all of the questions instead of have several unorganized conversations. Make sure to ask about insurance. If there is an accident and someone is injured or your modular home is damaged you want to make sure you will not have to pay for someone else's error. here are some money questions to start with:

  • How much of a deposit is required?
  • What situations will the deposit be refunded?
  • What insurance does the builder have (liability for persons & property)?

Bonus Investigating
You have done a superb job to get to this point. When evaluating a modular home builder it is important to do more than just interview them. Here are some extra steps that you should definitely include unless you like costly surprises that can destroy your dream home:

  • What is the builder's BBB rating?
  • Does the local consumer agency have any issues on file?
  • Does the state attorney general report any civil lawsuits against the builder?
  • Is the builder is good standing with suppliers and the bank?
  • Does the builder's insurance company confirm their policy?
  • Do the previous customers confirm what builder is saying?

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