Modular Homes Section

NJ Coastal Modular Builder Interviewed

Anthony Zarilli
Zarrilli Homes
February 2012

A leading New Jersey modular builder took a moment from his family owned home building business to share his insights on modular homes and his experiences of building both small and big prohects along the coast. The Zarrilli family of custom builders has developed quite the reputation for building incredible houses along New Jersey's gold coast and its made even more impressive by thier history of staying on schedule for their customers.

Modular Today: What should home buyers do before looking at homes?
Anthony Zarrilli: If the buyer is in need of land then they should start looking for the areas they want to potentially live in. We can assist them with our in-house service or show them land in our inventory as well. Once they find a piece they like we typically will do a site inspection to make sure there aren't any conditions that would not allow them to build or unforeseen costs that could come up as well. We would then design a home that fits both the site conditions as well as the homeowners lifestyle needs. Also in other situations we would design a home prior to finding the land to put a realistic number on the home and then work backwards. Now they know what the house will cost them and they know their budget they can spend on the land. Once they find the property we typically have to modify the design to accommodate on site conditions or local zoning/building codes. Both of these processes are very typical and easy to work with homeowner on to obtain the house they want in a location they are happy to live.

Modular Today: What lingo or special terms should home buyers know?
Anthony Zarrilli: Drop and set vs turn key construction (Unfinished vs. finished homes)
CAFRA (NJ regulations for coastal homes, many states have similar)
DEP (Dept. of Environmental Protection for homes in environmentally sensitive area)
FEMA (Federal Government regulations for flood prone areas)
Wind Zone (Determines what wind force your house needs to withstand)
Shear Walls (Designed to absorb force from earthquakes & high winds)
Flood Elevations (Height of flood waters during bad storms)
Height Restrictions (Local regulations often limit the height of homes)
Pilings vs CMU vs Superior Wall vs Grade Beam Foundations Systems (Different ways to make sure your home doesn't fly or float away)
All the specs of the homes (30 year roof vs lifetime timberline for example). (Small details really do matter, be extra careful when reviewing)

Modular Today: What do home buyers overlook when considering modular?
Anthony Zarrilli: I believe one of the BIGGEST mistakes is when a consumer shops price exclusively. Too many other companies use the "low" per square footage angle to sell a home but do NOT show all of their cards. They hit them with hefty change orders or "that was not in the contract" items therefore costing the homeowner much more money than they anticipated in spending. Also the consumer really needs to be conscious of the materials or products going into the house and compare apples for apples-I always say all new homes look nice but live in there for a year or so and you will know what you bought. Also make sure there is a good site supervisor to run their home project-this business is about organization and scheduling. Without having someone to take care of this will lead to a very stressful and unsuccessful experience.

Modular Today: Can you describe the typical buying process for one of your modular home customers?
Anthony Zarrilli: Typically a new customer will contact the office via phone, email or walk in. I will meet with them and go over the basics of our homes-specs, designs, timelines, township requirements, etc. We are able to narrow down the customer to a general house size and finish specs. I can then give them a price that typically is 95% accurate. This allows both parties to see if this project is feasible for the customer and that Zarrilli Homes has included what the customer is looking to build. We try and get them an accurate house design (which we do a house design on Chief Architect 3D and show them a virtual tour) and price without any cost to them to see if they are going to proceed. Once they commit we would take a small design deposit and proceed through "tweaking" their design. I would have them meet with our design center (which we have on site) to finalize windows, recessed lights, cable/phone, colors/styles of vanities, countertops, siding, roofing, etc. They would do all of their sign offs and review the contract at their leisure at home. Typically they mark it up and email it back. We clean it up as per their request and set up a final meeting to execute contracts in person. We would then proceed to permits and construction. Typically this entire process takes 2-4 months depending on the customer. We also offer financing, variance assistance, at no additional costs thus saving the homeowner thousands in attorney, fees that they could use in the construction of their home like for an upgraded kitchen.

Modular Today: How should modular home buyers compare potential modular home builders?
Anthony Zarrilli: The best way is to ask past, present and in progress customers of the modular builder. We offer a package that has dozens of past customers to speak to, customers under construction they can speak to, as well as customers we are working with present toward construction. This allows them to get a feel for how we are in EVERY stage of the process with homeowners. They are very happy with the outcome. They can also check the BBB, county clerk for any pending litigation, etc.

Modular Today: Which upgrades should smart modular home buyers choose?
Anthony Zarrilli: I know from experience most modular companies start with builder's grade materials. We do not and therefore there are minimal "upgrades" in our homes. Here are some items our standard homes include:
  • Lifetime timberline roof
  • Certainteed siding
  • Low-e high efficiency windows grills and screens
  • Front door with sidelights
  • Azek and pvc trim decks/porches with vinyl rails
  • 9' ceilings are on first floor
  • 42" wall cabinets (Merillat cherry, hickory, oak or maple with soft action drawer)
  • Granite countertops
  • Kohler brushed nickel fixtures with tank-less hot water heater
  • Brushed nickel lighting
  • 200 amp electrical with 125 amp sub panel
  • Two zone HVAC trane equipment
  • Tile all bathrooms (master shower with a seat)
  • Balance of house is hardwood
  • House painted, professionally cleaned and move in ready
  • 2-10 house warranty

Modular Today: What common mistake do modular home buyers make?
Anthony Zarrilli: Just shop bottom line and do not read and understand what is and is not included. Shopping just price will definitely get you in trouble in the end. Also they do NOT do their due diligence with the background check on the builder. I always say that you can have the best modular home delivered to the site but the job can turn out horrific if you don't have the proper builder in place to complete it. Home buyers should question everything.

Modular Today: How can home buyers get the best price when buying a modular home?
Anthony Zarrilli: Best price is not always the best home. Make sure the builder is fully transparent and the house is "complete" and everything is included or addressed. Again ask questions. One thing we do also so there are no surprises is give a copy of our contract template to the customer early in the process. This allows them to be familiar with how we work and typically eliminates a lot of questions and anxieties when it comes time to finally execute.

Modular Today: What financial advice would you give to modular home buyers?
Anthony Zarrilli: From the standpoint of financing the project we offer many programs that will fit their individual needs. From a building standpoint, if you have a budget and want to get the house completed but do not want some of the higher end specs included at completion but will probably do want them down the road, make sure the ones you eliminate are not structural and can easily be changed at a later date. Countertops, flooring, windows, cabinets, etc. should be done initially because they would be costly to switch out at a later date.

Modular Today: How do you make your modular homes special?
Anthony Zarrilli: Each home is 100% custom and our buyers get EXACTLY what they want-every window, door, outlet, light, cabinet, etc. We also offer a full staff of people that they work with from initial design with the owner (me-Anthony Zarrilli), to the spec design with our design center specialist (Donna Bevogich), Project Manager-Rich J. Zarrilli (my brother), senior PM (Richard D. Zarrilli-my father), to our warranty and customer service PM (Patrick Bottazzi), our office manager (Doreen Rizzo), and customer service rep (Amanda Teymant). Each customer is "hand-held" throughout the entire process. They have access to everyone through the office, email, cell phones, etc. It is ALL about customer service and we do ALL we can to provide the best building experience for each customer.

Anthony Zarrilli can be contacted at Zarrilli Homes by calling 732-262-4848. The Zarrilli team builds several homes every month ranging from 1,500 sq ft cottages to 10,000+ sq. ft mansions. Even more impressive is there long list of satisified customers. If you are looking to build along the Jersey Shore then you should definitely consider Zarrilli Homes.