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Building a custom modular home is a process. A process that is done successfully thousands of times across the country every year. You can look at builder websites, on social media sites, and at brochures and see beautifully finished custom homes. But it isn’t your home. You don’t know the effort and the process that it took to plan, design, deliver, and complete the home that you are looking at in that picture. It wasn’t magic. While modular construction makes the home construction process better and faster, it is still a home construction process. You will go through all of the emotions… but on a compressed schedule. And just like the phrase used in the Public Service Announcement tacked on at the end of each 1985 G.I. Joe cartoon, “Knowing is half the battle”. By just being aware of the journey you about to embark on, it will be a path made easier to travel.
Step 1: Excitement
In the beginning, the process to build a new custom home is fun and exciting. It is looking at magazines, getting ideas on websites like Pinterest and Houzz.com, and making drawings. It’s sharing the excitement with your spouse, your family, and your friends. Most people may only build a new custom home one to three times in their entire life. It isn’t something that is done very often, and so this is the opportunity to put get what you want in a house, not by what someone else already decided for you in an existing home. You will be picking colors, picking styles, etc. You get to pick practically anything you want in your new home.
Step 2: Anxiety
You get to pick practically anything you want in your new home. Now comes the anxiety part. You have to make decisions. Lots of decisions. And when you build your new home using modular construction, you have to make most decisions upfront. Your mind wants to continue the excitement phase. It wants to see your home construction get started, but it can’t. When building a home onsite, you can delay decisions. Sometimes you can hold them off for weeks or months as you go through the process. This isn’t the case with modular construction.
While the excavation is being done on your home site and the foundation is being put in place, your home’s modules are being built at the factory. In just days, your home will be constructed and be ready for delivery and placement on the foundation you just watched being built. This means you have to pick out all of the colors and options upfront and stick with them. All the items to build your new home have to be purchased and ready to install at the factory so you can benefit from the offsite construction process.
Step 3: Nervousness
Did you make the right choices? Did I choose the right plan? Will the colors you selected look right on your new home? Will the lighting style and placement be where I imagined when my home arrives, and I see it for the first time. Being a little nervous is normal at this point. Try not to let this period overcome you. Some homebuyers can revert back to excitement at this point. Things are happening fast. Work is happening on your home site; the factory is either preparing to build or is actually building the modules of your home. And then it happens…
Step 4: Fear
At some point, the schedule gets delayed, or you see the wrong color in the pictures you get from the factory while your home is being. At this point, fear starts to rear its ugly head. Your mind starts racing; “What did I do?”, “Did I do the right thing?”, “This is too much?”, “Did I miss something in the contract?”, “That wasn’t in the drawing I signed!”. As all of these thoughts go through your mind and you start to think this was too much for you. You wonder if you are in over your head. At this point, it is too late. You are in for the whole ride. Your home is just weeks or days from delivery, and your foundation is just about complete. But there is a lot to building a home. While modular construction reduces the timeframe it takes to build a home, you will still go through lots of emails… you will just go through the steps much faster. For most Step 5 is the biggest!
Step 5: Stress
Construction is a process of bringing more than 10,000 pieces and parts together and making them all work. Whether you use onsite construction or offsite construction, there is still the process of getting permits, inspections, excavation completed, foundations in place, etc. Every step of the way provides an opportunity for something to be delayed or a new requirement to pop up that no one knew about.
When something happens, the first thought for many is to determine whose fault it was, to place blame. You are applying for a permit, and you didn’t know that your lot was in a flood zone. Or, you go to call for your first inspection and the only inspector in your town is on vacation for the week. There are hundreds of reasons that things happen. A favorite in construction is rain. What most people outside of construction don’t understand is what the true impact of rain is on a job site? One day of rain usually equals three days of delay. You just can’t do grading, install footer, or pour concrete in the rain or on unstable ground. Trucks sink, and mobility around the job site is difficult for all.
But finally, the day comes! The foundation is in place, and the crane pad is ready. Your home is scheduled to delivered and set…
Step 6: Anxious Excitement
All of this stress seems to melt away when your home is being set(installed on the foundation). For many, it is like a good ole fashioned barn raising. Typically the modules of your home are on the site or stored nearby. The crane shows up the morning of the set and prepares for lifting the modules of your home. It is pure excitement now. You are close to seeing this thing that you have been working towards for months come together in 1-3 days on your site. It’s amazing; the modules start being placed on your foundation. One by one, they are put in place, and then the roof sections are raised. Any pieces and parts are placed, and you have a house.
When you are using volumetric offsite (modular) construction, you are able to walk into your home at the end of the set. In most cases, the kitchen is complete, the bathrooms are complete, and your home is now 65-85% done. It was a big giant, whoosh! You are just weeks away from moving into your new home!!! But…
Skip back to Step 5: Stress (part 2)
Now the stress comes back again. Take a deep breath. Your home is up, and you walk through it. There are things you have questions about. There are things that can be wrong. You are excited and stressed at the same time. All of that planning and something happens you didn’t expect. Stay calm. If you have chosen the right builder for your home, this is a process that they have been through dozens (or hundreds or thousands) of times.
Now is the time that the right attitude goes a long way. A good builder wants you to be happy. They will do the right thing. It isn’t about blame; it is about getting the home done per the contract and plans. The time spent on getting those details done correctly, in the beginning, will pay off now. Work through it, get your home completed, and you will get to the next step…
Step 7: Bliss
There is nothing like moving into a new custom home. It is your dream. It is an extension of you and what you wanted. You selected the items in the home and the plan itself. Now you get to live in. Enjoy it. You get to love your new home. Once you settle in, there is nothing like living in your new custom modular home!
“Knowing is Half the Battle”
Building a home is an experience. Getting to the Bliss Step makes everything worth it. But just knowing and understanding upfront that you will go through the emotional stages of building a home will help you get through it. You are not alone. Just about everyone goes through the steps outlined here. But, knowing is half the battle. Just know that using modular construction means your home build was faster than using traditional on-site construction. It also means your home will be more comfortable to live in. It will be more durable because of the way it was built. Your family is better protected from storms and the elements. Your custom home will be healthier because its floors and walls weren’t rained on during construction. Mold and mildew never got the moisture they needed to become an issue for you and your family. Enjoy your new custom modular home!
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this is great insight, always good to know up front what to expect.
I really liked reading this and knowing what to expect! It made me excited to get started! I look forward to all the choices I will need to make! I am not quite in the position to get started yet but I will look forward to when I can!