The quality gap between stick-built, or traditionally built, homes and their modular factory-built counterparts continues to shrink. Today's quality modular homes are so sophisticated that you can't tell the difference between them and stick-built houses just by seeing them from the road. Deciding to sell your stick-built house to build a modular house depends on personal factors, but modular houses are cheaper to build, so you can get a bigger bang for the buck.
Conventionally built houses are called stick-built because they are put together with lumber -- "sticks" -- and created by a construction crew on the site. After the frame is erected, there is much more for the builders to do. In addition to plywood sheathing outside and drywall inside, the exterior must be finished with some type of finish, such as clapboard or shingles. Because stick-built building takes longer than putting up a modular house, bad weather can delay the process considerably.
Although modular homes are also called manufactured housing, don't confuse them with old-fashioned trailer homes. Modular houses are basically houses in a kit that consist of sections built elsewhere and delivered to the site. These houses are available in all sizes and styles. Everything is pre-cut and ready to assemble. That does not mean you can't customize a modular home. Manufacturers can work with you to create the house you want. Look for a modular home built to International Residential Code standards, or manufactured houses that meet U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development codes.
Modular houses cost 10 to 20 percent less to construct than stick-built housing, so there is a good possibility that by selling your stick-built house, you could trade up to a larger modular house for the same amount of money, particularly if you are able to secure an empty lot for a reasonable price that is suitable for a house or even wired and plumbed for one. The price of modular house kits varies depending on the size and manufacturer. Houses meeting HUD code standards have a somewhat lower base price than other IRC homes, as they can go up on similar setups as traditional trailer homes.
Although modular houses are built to federal and state standards, they might not be the best choice for areas prone to hurricanes and tornadoes. However, the jury is still out on that, as some modular houses survive hurricanes and other natural disasters that destroy stick-built houses. There is still a bit of a stigma attached to the modular house versus traditional construction. That attitude is changing, but real estate values remain higher for stick-built architecture.
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