Modular Homes can be Upscale and Custom designed and an Affordable Price

Homes built as boxes in factories and assembled on site never subjected to construction delays or bad weather problems.

When Jack and Gina Sheehan wanted to demolish and replace their 1952 built waterfront home in York County, they didn't choose the custom-built route.  Instead, they went with a modular home.

"I did a lot of research online, looking at modular homes, the pros and cons, and visiting a couple of factories in Virginia and North Carolina," says Sheehan, a retired aeronautical engineer who is now a business development consultant.

"When you look at the construction methods, you found out the basic factories are all about the same. The difference is what is put into the engineering and quality controls."

By Thanksgiving, the Sheehans hope to have moved into their three-story house with 2,700 square feet of modular-built living space on two floors. They hired John Glover of Tidewater Custom Modular Homes in Smithfield to oversee the construction site. The first level is a custom-built, above-ground basement with garage space and full bath designed by local architect Mike Henry.

Accustomed to damaging storms, the Sheehans are also building their home to withstand 130 mile-an-hour winds; any flooding will be limited to the garage level. Instead of the standard 2-by-6 framing studs, basement walls are done with 2-by-8s, placed closer together, or on 12-inch centers instead of 24-inch centers. Bolts, larger-than-usual hurricane clips and threaded rods that go into the concrete footers help tie the house and foundation together. To access the second- and third-floor modular spaces, the Sheehans installed an elevator.

"The brick mason set the cinder blocks so the rods run through the cavities into the footers," says Jack.

"There's more strength in the first floor of this house than in most whole homes.

"We were lucky, we had earthquake and hurricane tests the same week and the house never even moved."

For home amenities, the house offers quartz counters, hardwood floors, gas fireplace, ceramic tile floors in baths with floor heater strips, tankless hot water heater, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and 50-year architectural shingles. Elevated front and rear screened porches offer scenic views.

Price to build the entire house: $110 per square foot.

That's considerably lower than many custom homes which usually start about $125 per square foot and can easily reach $200 per square foot.

"All areas vary," says Glover. He has a mechanical engineering degree from Virginia Military Institute, has been refurbishing and remodeling homes since 1998 and has been in new residential and commercial construction since 2003.

"In our area, we find that there is typically a 10-20% savings versus comparable site-built construction. This savings can vary from plan to plan. We have a 3,000 square plan we provide turnkey, excluding site activities like well, septic, clearing, driveway to our published standards for $77 per square foot."

Glover and his wife Tammy, an interior decorator and real estate agent, live in a modular home they built in 2004. Since that time, they have built more than 50 modular homes from Virginia Beach to Richmond.

"Modular homes contain 30% more material because they are built as individual boxes. When the boxes come together, they create interior walls of 2-by-8s versus standard 2-by-4s and add extra insulation qualities.

"Construction is quicker, meaning you move in faster, and you eliminate any exposure to weather or moisture problems in the process.

"Nowadays we can virtually design the modular home on the spot, whether we modify a standard plan, or start from scratch. You can build totally modular or partially modular and customize the rest, it's your choice," Glover adds.

Modular, by definition, is a green and energy-saving form of construction when compared to typical stick-built, according to Dan Goodin of Nationwide Homes. The company built modulars for the Extreme Makeover house in Virginia Beach earlier this year.

"Every home we build comes out of the factory both EnergyStar and green 'ready' (some simple on-site items and certification are required for full compliance)," says Goodin.

"We build to meet the wind speeds necessary where the home will be placed, and can build up to 175-mph wind speed requirements for coastal construction.

"Modular offers the same features as stick-built. We partner with the same brands — Merillat cabinets, Pella windows and Whirlpool appliances, so when a customer selects features to put in their home, they can use the same menu as used in stick-built counterparts."

"Our modular homes are bolted, nailed and screwed, built to code for each city or county and made to travel down the road without any damage. Modular homes are the future of home construction in this country."

Original article- The Daily Press

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