When we begin working with a new potential client, the first step is an initial consultation to discuss (in general terms) your wants, needs, timeframe, budget, building site and other building factors.
The next step in the process is to meet with a “modular-friendly” lender to obtain mortgage pre-approval. This is a critical step for 2 main reasons. First, it determines your actual budget for land acquisition and home construction, and confirms the amount of cash needed to proceed. And second, with the mortgage industry in such a state of transition we recommend that clients lock-in their financing as early as possible in the process for their own protection and peace of mind.
Site Selection and Inspection
When a potential building site has been identified, we will conduct a site inspection to confirm suitability for modular construction. The site must accommodate the delivery of the home as well as the equipment required to set the home. Factors to be reviewed include road access, soils composition, slopes and contours, wetland issues, utility availability, water or well, sewer or septic, required set-backs, lot approval status, and zoning, sub-division or deed restrictions.
Construction Management Determination
One of the most important choices the client makes when building a modular home is whether to act as their own general contractor. For most clients the best choice is to work with an experienced GC or Project Manager (and if bank financing is involved the bank may require you to do so) but some highly qualified clients may choose to be their own GC.
Concept Plan and Preliminary Pricing
After confirming the suitability of the site and obtaining financial preapproval, the next step is to identify a concept plan and develop preliminary pricing for the project. Many clients come to us with an idea for the home plan from a magazine, website, competing home builder, etc. If you don’t know where to start, we have hundreds of home plans available which are very cost-effective to build as a modular home. If none of these are exactly right, we can modify an existing plan or design a home from scratch. We’ll also ask you to give us a general idea of the level of specifications you want in the home, so that we can give you a valid preliminary estimate.
Design Phase and Detailed Pricing
If we’re in the right ballpark, we proceed to the detailed design phase. This process may take days, weeks, or months depending on the level of customization requested, and will require a design fee. We will then “build” your home in computer 3D modeling software and ask you to “walk through” it with us to finalize the home plan. We will also ask you to make your selections for the home at this time – cabinetry, flooring, light fixtures, appliances, siding, etc. With these selections made we can price your new home accurately.
Bidding the On-Site Work
When the plan has been finalized, we (or you and/or your PM if we aren’t doing a turn-key build) will need to gather bids for the on-site work. This includes site preparation, excavation, foundation, utility installation, and home completion.
Building Contract and Final Plan Approval
When you are ready to proceed, the next step is a Building Contract. You will need to sign off on the final detailed plans for the modular home, and the detailed specifications, as part of this process. Any changes that are made after this approval will require a “Change Order” approved by the client, builder, and manufacturer. When the order is placed a down payment is required that will range between 10% and 25% of the cost of the home. Full mortgage approval is also required, and in many cases you will actually close on your construction loan at this stage. The stamped building plans will be submitted to the local Building Department for a building permit. When the building permit is obtained, the home will be put into the production schedule.
Delivery date confirmed
When the order is placed and the manufacturer’s confirmation is returned, it will include the schedule for construction. During the construction phase, certified inspectors will conduct progress inspections to insure code compliance. While rare, the completion date could vary slightly depending on progress inspections and approvals. Should this occur, they are typically limited to a few days.
Now the construction begins! The first step is site clearing and determining the exact location of the new modular home. This may require the services of a professional surveyor. Heavy equipment is brought to the site to begin the clearing process, excavation and construction of the foundation, backfill, and sill plate installation. The local building inspector will need to approve this work before the home is delivered.
The pre-set inspection, conducted by Saratoga Modular Homes, will confirm the site, foundation and access are all properly prepared to receive the home.
The most exciting day of the project is “Set Day”, when the trucks show up and the crane lifts the pieces into place on the foundation. Most modular homes require only one day for installation, but complex homes may require two or more days. While every effort is made to prevent any delay, the installation process is subject to conditions beyond control. The installation must be completed before any interior or exterior work can begin. The manufacturer will expect payment in full “curbside”, before the crane sets it on the foundation, so your mortgage lender needs to be notified and prepared for the delivery.
Utilities will be connected as soon as possible after the home is set. Water, gas, phone and cable, which will be generally located underground, can be installed during the foundation/excavation phase but will not be connected until the home is in the final stages of completion.
One big advantage of modular construction is the home is nearly complete at delivery, requiring minimal on-site labor. However, certain architectural elements will require completion on site. These may include porches, garage, roofing sections, masonry chimneys, bump-outs, and exterior finishes such as stucco, brick, masonry or wood siding.
Certain interior work will also need to be completed on-site. Items like hardwood flooring, ceramic tile, custom color painting, granite countertops, appliances and such are scheduled after the home is set.
Mechanical Systems After the home has been set the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC contractors will come in and complete their respective tasks.
Final Site Work
As the home nears completion some of the final details include driveway, sidewalks, patios, decks, sprinkler and landscape installation.
When the work is complete we will conduct a final inspection of the home with the client and general contractor (if there was one). This inspection includes all aspects of the home, both those that we are responsible for and those that the GC managed. The purpose of this meeting is to provide the home owner with the opportunity to ask questions, discuss concerns, and resolve any remaining issues. And of course, our goal is to hear that we’ve exceeded all expectations!