Modular Homes VA Blog

Making Custom Modular Homes a Reality

Tidewater Custom Modular Homes would like to build you a custom designed modular home.  If you just look at our photo gallery you can see how much customization you can really have.

Option for modular home customization

When building a modular home, the most common customization options are usually the siding, the style and amount of windows and the type of floors. If you are only interested in minor customizations like these, and you don't necessarily need to add or change a floor plan, take a look at the more inexpensive predesigned modular homes in our inventory.  Even these modular homes are beautiful and look just like stick-built homes.

Upscale customization options
Customized modular homes means you can add to the home design what you need. Add rooms, add bathrooms, add a sunroom or add a garage; move walls or add windows or fireplace. 

Modular homes are most often less expensive than traditionally built homes. No matter what type of home you build, however, as you customize your price will increase. You will save more when building a modular home, so even a customized modular home is less than a customized traditionally built home.

Modular Home Appraisal Process

The question often arises: Do modular homes appraise for the same value as a traditionally built home? Simply put, yes.

In order to buy a home, it must be appraised so you can begin the process of getting a mortgage or loan. An appraisal is the estimated amount a home buyer can expect to pay for their new home. When buying any piece of property, including modular homes, you need a licensed professional appraiser. The question then becomes, if the home is not yet built, how is it actually appraised?

The appraiser will inspect the modular home plans to have an idea of how much your new home should cost. Generally, they use information on labor rates, building costs, and depreciation and appreciation locally where the property is being built. The appraiser will use sales comparisons, prices and values of compatible homes sold in the area, to determine the current value of the modular home.

Once a thorough analysis of the property has been completed, a report is created which is used to initiate the mortgage or loan process. Included in the report would be the property specifications, the replacement cost analysis and the above mentioned comparative sales analysis.

The replacement cost analysis is the total amount spent on the construction and materials of the modular home, and the lot value.

All this will determine the current total value of the property. The modular home appraisal will then be finalized so that the loan transaction can take place. The calculated total value of the modular home will help you determine future expenses such as utilities and real estate taxes. 

How Much do Modular Homes Cost?

We get this question all the time.  "What is the price of a modular home?" Just like with stick built homes, so many things come into play in making this determination.

Ranch homes generally cost more per square foot  than a two story home. In the end however, they end up having a lower final price because they have less square footage. The fixed costs: foundation, site preparation and septic, all cost the same no matter what style home you build. Two story homes  use a smaller foundation. However, the square footage is greater because you have more than one floor. The larger the home, the more modules you will require, and more modules means higher costs. When you customize the modular floor plan, the costs increase as well.

Modular manufacturers have factory model homes which cost less than custom designed homes. Obviously custom designed homes will cost more.

For more information on the cost of a modular home, contact Tidewater Custom Modular Homes.

Financing a Modular Home

To build a modular home you need to pay the modular home company for building the modules and the general contractor for his services. If you do not own property, you also need to purchase that.

There are two typical sources of these funds. The first is private funds, such as personal savings, an equity loan on another property, or the sale of personal assets. The second is obtaining a mortgage through a lending institution, like a bank or mortgage company.

There is one major difference between paying for an existing, already built home and paying for building a new home. When you buy an existing home you pay the seller in full before you take possession of the home, usually through the mortgage. When you build a home, you make periodic payments as the work is completed. This protects you and the lender should something prevent the completion of the home on the GC end. Receiving compensation as the job progresses also protects the modular home company or dealer and the general contractor should something prevent you from paying for the finished home.

When you use a lender to build a home, you obtain a "construction loan" which is a short-term loan usually four- to twelve-months' duration. The loan provides for a series of payments as work is completed. Once the local building inspector issues a certificate of occupancy and the lender agrees that the home is essentially complete, the lender pays off the construction loan and issues you a mortgage.

What is the most different regarding construction loans for modular home construction is the time line. With traditionally built, stick built homes, the construction process is very long, a year or longer in some cases. The modular construction process is much shorter, a couple of months only.

ODU and HU Students And Tidewater Custom Modular Homes Build "Green" Home

There's a quirky new building on the Old Dominion University campus, assembled like Lego blocks in about two hours Wednesday morning.

This house was delivered in four pieces in Norfolk, and crews fit them together to make a one-of-a-kind Solar Decathlon house.

The modules for this solar decathlon project were built in Pennsylvania and put into place on the campus of Old Dominion University Wednesday morning.  They will be joined together and then the interior work will get underway.

It was designed by engineering students from Hampton University and Old Dominion University who have been jointly working on this project as The Tidewater Team since they were invited to participate in April of 2010. Team Tidewater  is competing in an international green-technology contest called the Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The house has to be a zero net energy home, meaning the energy they use will be equal to the energy they generate.

"We have a water-sense toilet and low flow faucets in the shower and the lavatory," said Noel Nicole Harrison, Hampton University engineering student.

The home will have triple glaze, super-insulated windows and spray foam insulation.  It will cost $250,000 as affordability is one of the ten criteria these homes will be judged on in September in Washington D.C.

"We have to produce as much energy from the sun over the course of the contest as we consume," said John Whitelaw, ODU doctoral candidate.

The Tidewater Team reached the finals this year, the first time they entered, and will be going up against other futuristic models from universities in China, Belgium, Canada and New Zealand and from 15 other U.S. schools.
Truly a Project Green.

"So when they see a grand challenge for the whole world and their little piece in there while they're still being educated, it gets them excited.  When they're excited, they're engaged.  When they're engaged, they learn better, and that's what it's all about," said Oktay Baysal, Dean of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University.
It was a long-anticipated day for the engineering and architecture students, their professors and their professional helpers (such as Tidewater Custom Modular Homes), who until now had been working on the project for two years only on paper and computer screens.

More information and articles can be found on

Modular home FAQ's

What is the buying process for a modular home?

  1. You choose your home and options
  2. A contract is signed contingent on financing and a small deposit
  3. Plan revisions are made and new engineered floor plans are drawn
  4. You close on your Construction-Permanent loan
  5. Your basement or crawl space foundation is built
  6. We release your home for production
  7. We set your new home
  8. Finish work of your new home is completed
How complete is the home when it is set?
Depending on the floor plan and style, between 75-85% complete.

How long does it take to finish the home after it is set?
About 4-6 weeks.

Will you build my garage and/or porches?
Yes. However, this may be at an additional cost.

What is the difference between a Modular home and a Mobile Home?
Mobile Homes - built to a lax code with generally substandard building products (when compared to modular or site-built homes). Built on a steel frame to hold it together, most have wheels.

Modular Homes - built generally to the toughest codes required in the state, built out of the same type building materials and name brands you would find in site-built homes. There are no steel frames underneath, only approved floor system. There are no wheels of their own, they are transported and then lifted off the transporter and set with a crane.

How much do modular homes cost?
As with stick built construction the cost of a modular home will vary depending on what you put in the home and the style of home you choose. Modular homes prices compare favorably with an equivalent site-built home.

Can modular floor plans be customized?
Yes. There are standard floor plans of course; however, floor plans of each style home can be customized, as well as the amenities inside the home.

New Construction Loans for Modular Homes

A new construction home loan is not the same as a typical home loan. New construction loans have different requirements and a different set of rules. However, the new construction loans are used for both new construction stick built and new modular construction homes. After learning about these types of loans you will find it is easy to finance and build your dream modular home.

A new construction home loan requires the lender to provide the money to build your new home. Firstly, your mortgage provider requires a detailed accounting on the estimated costs to build the modular home; including how much you are going to spend and what it will look like when it is complete. After these initial questions are answered you begin the credit check and annual earnings process.

There are a few different construction loans out there but the most popular one is a “construction to permanent” loan. Instead first applying for a construction loan and following that up with a typical home loan, a construction to permanent loan is a two-in-one loan which, in most cases, only requires you to pay closing costs once.  This loan is a combination of construction loan and permanent financing, and can help you save money and time.

Keep in mind that with new construction loans it is very difficult to lock-in a permanent or fixed mortgage rate. This is because with traditional construction, you usually won't be closing the loan for six months to one year depending on the build time. With modular construction, because the build time is so much shorter, you can more often get a fixed rate, or the fixed rate you close with after construction will be very close to the variable rate you had when you took out the loan. 

Of course you will be required to pay monthly interest on the construction loan amount during the modular construction process, but the amount you owe each month will depend on the amount you have used to date. If you are approved for a construction loan of $100,000 but you have only drawn $50,000 then your interest payment will be based on $50,000.

Sometimes lenders like to interview or see the license of the contractors who will be building your new home, so often it is beneficial to speak with the bank where the contractor has a relationship.

The Difference Between a Manufactured Home and a Modular Home

We are often asked this question “What is the Difference Between a Manufactured Home and a Modular Home?”and it is a good one. With today’s advances in the factory built construction industry, it is difficult to know the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home. This blog is designed to clarify the distinctions.

Essentially, a manufactured home is built in a factory and remains on its transport frame throughout its useful life. The truck backs into the desired location and unhooks the chassis and drives off.

A modular home is built in a factory in the form of modules. The modules are built to your desired design and floor plan, and built to exact and stringent specifications and standards. The modules are then taken via transporter from the factory to the site. It is then lifted off the transport trailer by crane and set on and connected to a permanent foundation.

Although manufactured homes come in double width units, they are never more than two boxes, or modules, and never have a second story. Conversely, modular homes can be any number of boxes; they can be designed as small vacation homes or large estate style homes and everything in between. A standard colonial style home would likely by four boxes.

Modular Homes Sell for the Same Price as a Stick Built Home

Many people wonder about the resale value of a modular home and how it compares to that of a stick built home. Modular homes cost about 10-15% less to build, but they sell at the same price as a stick built home. This is because modular homes are appraised to the same standards and specs of a site built home, which means that both style homes are assessed at the same amount.

It takes about 10 to 12 weeks from the day a customer decides on a modular home to the day that same customer get the keys to their new house. While the house modules are being built at the factory, we are pulling permits and doing the site work. When the modules arrive on site, it is about a 3-6 week process to build your new home.

But the best part of building a modular home is the guaranteed pricing. When you decide on a floor plan, the cost of the home can practically be priced out to the penny. At Tide Water Custom Modular Homes we know how much a home is going to cost and how much our on-site labor will be cost because it is essentially the same for each job. There are no surprising materials costs or labor costs. That is a big advantage for the home buyer.

Modular Homes Can Save You Money

Modular homes offer a vast range of pre-designed homes, as well as custom designed homes with many benefits, to fit any family’s needs. Each home can be further customized to specifically address the individual home-buyer's desires. Spring is here and this usually brings with it an increase in home sales. Many people around Virginia are starting to think about buying a new home. And, as the low mortgage rates slowly rise, buying a new home sooner rather than later is the most optimal choice.
For those who are considering a newly built home, you should consider building yourself a modular home. As oil prices increase, all industries are victim to increased costs. However, modular homes companies are less affected than the stick built construction contractor.  The modules for Tidewater Custom Modular Homes are built in controlled environments to exact specifications. Therefore construction costs are already lower than the traditional builders’. The modular homes takes less time to construct; therefore, you are paying less for the worker’s time on site thus decreasing labor costs as well. The modular home factories have their materials on site in bulk, therefore are less victim to the immediate increase in transportation costs of goods and materials that most shipping companies are adding onto their invoices. Therefore, your materials cost is lower as well.

In spite of the economic situation people still need to buy a home. Rather than buy a brand-new stick-built home, a preferred solution for consumers (and the institutions that lend them money) might be a custom-built modular home.

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