The national average cost of a modular home is about $240,000, plus the cost of the land.
The cost figure above translates to about $120 per square foot for a 2,000 square foot modular home without the cost of the land.
Source: All American Homes
In terms of the average expected price range (80% range), most homeowners pay between $190,000 and $325,000 per modular home, depending on the manufacturer and the specific model and design they choose.
The table below, provides a quick reference guide to understanding costs on a per square foot basis during all the phases of modular home construction process.
Granted some people will pay more and some people will pay less for a modular home, and that’s why it’s important understand the typical range of prices you will encounter when planning, shopping, and ultimately installing a modular home on your land.
Once a decision about a particular model of a modular home you want has been made, there will likely also be some decisions to be made about the design and material options, aka important variables that can potentially increase or decrease the overall cost of the modular home being ordered, depending on the level of customization, which can entail both, the design elements, and the choice of materials for customizable elements of the home design.
Plus the land
Land, yes, that’s a huge variable, based on the land location within the specific real estate market and the overall property or lot size.
We discuss specific costs typically associated with buying and developing the land for modular home construction below, under the “Breakdown of Costs” section.
Now, while the cost figures stated above represent the typical average range (80% range) of modular home prices, some manufacturers also offer a few select models starting at less than $100,000 for smaller and very basic models as high as $300,000+ for larger more upscale models.
So, you really do have a wide range of options and possible costs – all of which are explained in greater detail in this guide.
What’s in this guide?
This guide contains a complete and definitive modular home price breakdown including the cost of the land, base-level modular home prices, customization, and associated costs to make the home “your own,” plus all the costs you’ll incur on the home site development, from foundation and construction to the final finishing costs including adding a driveway and other essentials involved in getting a complete home built on bare land.
When you finish reading this 8-minute guide, you will have a clear understanding of all the key costs to expect, where your money goes (aka allocation), and the options you have in designing your dream home.
We will also help you understand the Time frames from planning and getting all the necessary building permits, to ordering the home, assembling it, and the final construction-to-occupancy phase.
So, What is a Modular Home?
Here is a brief definition and description of a modular home, just so we’re on the same page:
A modular home is a stick-built home constructed in modules or sections in a climate-controlled factory. Let’s unpack that.
That’s the construction term for a home that is framed with dimensional lumber – studs, headers, floor joists, roof trusses, etc. So-called “traditional homes” built on-site are constructed the exact same way, “stick by stick” for the framing. The only difference between traditional and modular homes is where the stick building takes place – outdoors on the jobsite or in a factory.
Modular home sections stick-built in the factory include framing, sheathing, and house wrap. Windows, doors, and roof covering materials can be installed either in the factory or onsite – it varies a little by the manufacturer and a specific modular home building project.
The sections are shipped to the site and fitted on top of the foundation using a crane and large construction crew.
House siding is usually installed only onsite. Then the electrical finish, plumbing, and interior components such as kitchen cabinets and flooring are installed to complete the home.
Did you know? Modular homes are not trailer home nor are they the so-called manufactured homes. In fact, modular homes look no different than conventionally-built homes. They also maintain their value the same way that traditionally-built homes do. That said, with proper planning and development, you can actually save between 10% and 20% compared to the cost of traditional construction.
This is one of the major advantages of a modular home. The sections aren’t exposed to the elements during framing. Once the modules are built and shipped to the site, they can be assembled in a few days. Then shingle or metal roofing and siding can be quickly installed to make the home weather-tight in a much shorter time frame. The factory-built factor also reduces time and cost.
Other Names for Modular Homes
The other common names for modular homes are off-site stick-built homes and pre-fabricated homes. Panel built and panelized homes are other terms.
What they are Not
These are not mobile homes or trailer homes. And they’re not manufactured homes. Plus, they are not built to HUD code. IRC is a more stringent code that requires heftier building materials.
Modular Home Pro and Cons
Many readers are here primarily for modular home prices and the costs associated with construction, assembly and finishing the home and property.
However, if you’re still investigating the pros and cons of modular home, here is a brief overview:
Pros: Lower construction costs, by an average of 10% to 20%, because the factory setting reduces time, waste, and delays.
Faster construction time because there are no weather delays or delays while waiting for a framing crew’s availability or for parts of the job to be passed by an inspector.
All the home style, materials, and customization options available as when using a custom builder for your home project.
Cons: Potential transportation issues – though rare – damage can occur when transporting sections, which can cause a delay.
Potential buyer concerns – If you sell your home, and a buyer learns it is a “modular,” they may confuse that for mobile or some other inferior construction method. A little basic education usually relieves their concerns.
Modular Home Prices: From Base to Final
There are common terms within the modular home industry that explain your costs from choosing a home style to moving into a completed home and property.
They vary a little but knowing the definitions of these terms will help you understand the concepts if the terms are slightly different among the manufacturers.
The Base Price, “only includes the cost of manufacturing the modules for the base plan that you have selected,” according to Modular Home Owners.
Custom details or alterations are addressed in the next section. Also, beware of the unfinished spaces such as a bonus room above the garage or an unfinished attic. Read the details. If those spaces are framed, but contain nothing else, you’ll have to pay to finish them and make them usable either in the “Customization” stage or after the home is completed.
Base price varies hugely based on home style and the materials and amenities used.
Base Modular Home Cost: $48-$145 per square foot
Custom Price = Base Price + Alterations
Most homeowners want at least a few alterations to the basic design of the home.
Common customizations included increasing the size of one room, the master bedroom for example, while taking a little space from the living room. Others like to add a window or two to the Basic design or move the location of a window to take better advantage of the property’s landscape.
Upgrading the cabinets, countertops, flooring, bath or lighting fixtures, windows or doors or adding a kitchen island are common changes made in the Customization stage of modular home planning. And changes like upgrading the siding from vinyl to brick veneer can change the total cost by up to $100,000.
Customized Modular Home Cost: $60-$175 per square foot. This is the average customized cost, but it all depends on how many alterations you choose.
Delivered Price = Basic + Customization + Delivery + Setting & Securing the Modules
At this point, you’ve selected your home model and altered/customized its design to your preferences.
And the sections have been delivered to the site, set on top of the foundation (and one another, if a multi-story home) and secured to the foundation and to one another.
The cost of delivery and “set up,” as it is often called, is $8 to $15 per square foot in most cases. This is one reason it makes sense to choose a quality modular homes manufacturer that is near to you: It will keep transportation costs to a minimum.
Delivered Modular Home Cost: $75-$190 per square foot.
Finished Home Price
This sounds like the “bottom line,” but it isn’t there’s one step beyond this.
Finished Price = Everything listed above + Excavation, Other Site Work, the Foundation and Final Construction steps.
Pricing in phase includes removing topsoil and digging the foundation, installing a block or poured foundation ahead of the home modules being delivered, and “buttoning up” the home after the modules are installed.
The foundation might be a poured or block crawlspace or basement or a slab. It depends on what is possible given the property’s soil conditions and what you choose out of available options.
A slab foundation starts at about $8,000 for a small home while a full basement foundation will exceed $30,000 for a large ranch home.
Buttoning up the house means ensuring all the sections are properly and securely fitted, touching up minor damage that might have occurred during transportation or assembly and connecting water, sewer, and electricity.
Finished Modular Home Cost: $95-$210 per square foot.
Final Price = Finished Home Price + Property, Landscaping, Driveway and Walkways.
This is also commonly called the All-In price of a home building project. It includes before and after costs.
Before the foundation is dug, potential costs include land and lot line surveys, site plan, soil perc test, design of an engineered septic drain field or utility location planning. A complete list of steps and costs in this phase is found in this guide.
After the home is finished, as explained above in the “Finished Home Price” section, the modular home manufacturer is done. The rest is up to you by yourself or with the paid assistance of a general contractor. Steps here include a driveway, walkways, optional deck or patio, landscaping, detached garage, etc.
Oh, and then there is the issue of land: Small building rural lots start as low as $10,000. Premium and/or large parcels easily exceed $200,000. According to Homes by Michael Hall, the traditional figure is that land accounts for 25% of the project. But if you know land value, you understand it is impossible to use any rule of thumb.
Most homeowners pay between $35,000 and $125,000 for a building site lot.
All In Modular Home Cost: $105-$245 per square foot, PLUS the cost of land.
Allocation: Breakdown of Costs from Foundation to the Final Price
Here is where your money will go – apart from the land, which we’ve determined to be the wild card and location-dependent.
Base Modular Home Price: $55,000 to $180,000 for homes from about 1,000 to 3,000 square feet.
Customized Modular Home Price: $82,500 to $210,000 for the same size homes, with cost based on the number and type of alterations and materials you choose.
Delivered Modular Home Price: $95,000 to $255,000. Your home is now assembled on top of the foundation, and the siding is installed. The ground around the home is bare – no driveway or walkways or landscaping.
Finished Modular Home Price: $165,000 to $375,000
The wide variance in the overall costs is because we’re considering houses ranging in size from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet.
Final Modular Home Price: The cost of land plus $180,000 to $435,000
Modular Home Construction Guide & Checklist
This section gives you the steps to building a modular home. It’s arranged in phases with a checklist for each along with expected times (summarized below).
Phase 1 – Dreams, Dollars and Land: 2-12 months
Expect that you’ll need a minimum of 2 months to find land and get everything ready for the project to start. We think 4-6 months is more realistic. Time of year is a factor in climates where winter temperatures consistently fall below freezing.
Your modular home planning checklist is provided as a quick reference guide below:
- Browse modular home designs and floor plans to become familiar with what’s available: You’ll find an appealing range and variety of options. Take your time narrowing your options. Consider whether a two-story home or single-story home better fits your needs now and as you’ll get older.
- Get financing, if needed: Some custom home builders point to financing problems as one of the cons of choosing a modular home.
They are wrong. No experienced loan officer mistakes a modular home for a mobile home. They know that a modular is an offsite stick-built house with quality as good or superior to a home built stick by stick onsite. If you qualify for a “traditional” home construction loan, you’ll be fine choosing modular.
Did you know? FEMA is a fan of modular homes, giving them high ratings going back to the 1993’s Hurricane Andrew. Modular homes fared better than most onsite-built homes.
- Choose and close on land, if needed: Land is the largest variable, as mentioned, in modular home pricing.
Phase 2 – Plan and Pick your Home Design: 1-3 Months
You’ve got your land picked out – maybe you’ve even closed on it. Financing is in place. Now it is time to focus on your home and who is going to help you complete your project.
- Hire a general contractor: Unless you’re experienced and have time, hiring a general contractor is the best way to ensure your project’s success with the fewest delays and the best outcomes.
- Choose a modular home manufacturer, select and customize your home design: It is time to make your choice of a home style (Base Home) and any alterations (Customized Home) you want to have included.
- Get your building permits: To get building, mechanical, electrical and water/sewer permits, you might need some or all the following documents – A property or lot line survey, home drawing or blueprint, septic design drawing, site plan or plot plan along with your permit application. The site plan for modular homes is the same as site plans drawn for conventional stick-built homes.
Phase 3 – Prepare the Land While Your Home is Being Built: 6 weeks to 3 months
Most manufacturers need 6-10 weeks to build your home, but time of year can be a huge factor in cold climates. The economy and mortgage rates also affect demand and therefore the speed with which your home can be scheduled and built.
- Keep in touch: Contact your modular home representative every week or two to make sure things are on schedule. If you realize you’d like a design change during this, call immediately. It might still be possible to enlarge that home office or have a picture window installed where it will overlook the meadow to the east.
- Install the foundation: Your general contractor will arrange for an excavator to do site prep, dig the foundation and install it.
- Install well and septic: Unless you’ll have city water and sewer, you’ll have to supply your own.
- Arrange for subcontractors: Any job not done at the factory or by your general contractor will require a subcontractor. These include connecting sewer and electricity and related tasks.
Phase 4 – Home Construction and Completion: 6-10 weeks
One day, the crane will be delivered, and your home’s modules will start to arrive on flatbed trailers!
- The modules are delivered and set: One at a time, the modules will be set on the foundation. If there’s an upper floor, its section with roofing attached, will be set on the lower modules. Each module is secured as it is installed.
- Water and sewer connections are made: Whether a well or city water, septic or city sewer, pipes will have to be connected to the plumbing within the home.
- The home is buttoned up: This industry term means all final construction and repair steps are taken. The manufacturer is done!
- Final steps complete your home: Your general contractor will oversee the installation of the driveway, walkways, deck, patio, outbuildings or any other facet not covered in your contract with the home manufacturer.
Modular Home Construction Time Frame
Here is an overview of the schedule above.
Phase 1: 2-12 months – Familiarize yourself with modular homes, models, style and customization options. secure financing if needed and buy land. Average time is 4-6 months.
Phase 2: 1-3 Months – Choose your home model, make custom alterations, and select from your list of options for cabinets, windows and doors, flooring, lighting, bath fixtures and more. Average is about 2 months, but 3 months is common too.
Phase 3: 6 weeks to 3 months – Prepare the Land While Your Home is Being Built. The excavator will do “dirt work” and get the foundation installed. A couple months is average.
Phase 4: 6 to 10 months – Home Construction and Completion. In some respects, the last phase is the quickest. The home’s modules are built; it just needs to be assembled and buttoned up – and they keys handed to you! Your contractor will complete the other aspects of the job. 2-3 months is average.
Best Modular Homes – Popular Styles and Options
Remember the definition of Base Price? It is the cost of just the modules and their basics. It does not include exaction or foundation, putting the house together, utilities or land.
This chart, once again, gives you a clear idea of what’s offered in each price range. Land is not included.
Note on Bedrooms and Bathrooms vs. House Size: Some 1,500 square foot homes feature 3 bedrooms and 2 or 2.5 full baths. When you see a configuration like that, keep in mind that other rooms will be smaller by necessity. You can’t have that many bedrooms and baths plus a spacious kitchen or home office.
So, keep that in mind as you review the chart above. There will be a tradeoff in how the space is allocated.
Materials: Also note that the quality of the flooring, cabinets, countertops, siding, and other amenities play a big role in the overall cost. For instance, you can buy a 2,500 square foot home for a base price under $150,000, but it will have vinyl siding, carpet or laminate flooring, and other basic materials. For many families, that is an ideal option.
If you prefer a 2,500 square foot home with upgraded materials such as wood flooring or granite countertops or brick veneer on the front of the house, expect a base price of between $200,000 and $300,000.
Additional costs spelled out above show how the Base Price becomes the Final Modular Home Price.
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