Saving Time, Money--and Knees
Continued from Page 2
"I've learned that you don't want to do change orders on a Stratford home after the fact. When these homes are put together at the plant, they use glue and ring-shank nails, and their nailing schedule is much more thorough than stick-built construction. You can't just take these homes apart. You need to take it out in chunks."
"As a stick builder, I saw that people frankly had too much time to look at their home. They would start worrying that this wasn't right, or that wasn't right. I've found over the years that most of the things that people decide to change really don't make a difference in the house. It's something minor like moving a plug to the other side of the stud, or moving a window three inches to the left. They think it's a small thing, but it takes a lot of time to do it."
"The quality of modular homes is much better. On a site-built home, when you get a little rain shower in the middle of the day, you get back to work as soon as it stops. You couldn't afford to stand around and wait for everything to dry off. In a factory, all of the material goes into that plant under the roof in a controlled environment, and the modules don't leave until they're weathertight."
"I've seen a reduction in callbacks since switching to modular. There have been very few. But if there is a problem, and it's something that has to do with Stratford, I just turn it in and they have their own service guys come out and take care of the problem."
"There is a lot of design flexibility in modular homes. We can do 9-foot ceilings, 10-foot ceilings, steep roofs, fireplaces. If a customer wants masonry, we'd have to do that onsite. The only significant limitation is certain configurations. Some homes have many corners and jogs in them, which require separate modules. When you get to a point where you have too many modules, then it begins to get expensive. Your transportation costs go up and you catch up with the cost of stick-built homes."
"So once in a while, we site build a section of the home. It's not very difficult to do. It's all configured into the planning ahead of time, and the engineering department at Stratford works with you to make sure everything ties in. I built a two-story home in Eau Claire composed of six modules, and then added a great room after the modules were set. All the electrical hook ups were there so we could just pull them through to the great room. It was simple."
"It's actually easier to find workers to construct the modules than it is to find stick-building crews. These guys know that the turnaround on my modular homes is fast. Consequently, they get their money fast. It's a big factor."
This project included the following PATH-profiled technologies:
"I have to deal with fewer inspections now, which makes my life a lot easier. The house has been inspected at the plant. The only thing that the building inspectors have to do on my end is look at the foundation work. I have to get a footing inspection, and an inspection before we backfill for drain tile, and then usually a final."
"I carry a floating builder's risk policy that costs less than keeping a policy 365 days a year. I call my agent when a house comes in, let him know where it is, and what it's worth. Once we're done with the home, I call my agent again and he'll pull it off the file. I also have a lower rate because the insurance company has realized that there is very little material that ever sits outside for people to steal. There's less to go wrong from an insurance standpoint."
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Content updated on 9/27/2006