Everything You Need to Know About Custom Modular Homes

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated February 22, 2022
Modern house with linear design surrounded by trees
Photo: bmak / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Custom modular homes offer plenty of design options

  • Modular homes tend to save you money and time over stick-built homes

  • You’ll need to find land that allows for prefab homes

  • The cost of a modular home averages $100–$200 per square foot

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The contemporary modular home offers a versatile option for new home construction—you can choose from pre-designed plans or add in features and unique layouts, such as a small modular home with a front porch or a large custom home with an expansive deck. Modular homes are also usually faster and less expensive to build than stick-built homes. Read on for more details about custom modular home design and building possibilities.

What Is a Custom Modular Home?

Custom modular homes are built in sections in a factory then transported to your land, where a builder assembles the home on a foundation. Modular homes are also known as prefab homes but differ from manufactured homes and mobile homes, both of which do not have foundations.

Custom site-built homes, also known as traditional residential construction or a stick-build, are built on your property instead of an indoor factory. Stick-built and modular homes appraise similarly, are taxed the same way, and appreciate over time.

What Options Do You Have With a Modular Home?

Like most new builds, you can choose every detail, including your square footage, floor plan, architectural features, finishes, and more. You can select from pre-designed models or highly customized options, whether it’s a 1,500-square-foot pre-designed home with two bedrooms or a 3,000-square-foot home with five bedrooms, custom cabinets, and skylights.

When building a modular home, talk with at least three modular home builders to find one that offers what you want in your price range.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Custom Modular Home?

Crane moving modular house wall
Photo: brizmaker / iStock / Getty Images

Custom modular homes usually take four to six months to build, depending on the size, design, and building permit timeline in your area. Comparatively, traditional stick-built homes typically take seven to twelve months to build.

As with any home style, prefab homes have both pros and cons. Here are the main aspects to consider for custom modular homes:

Benefits of Prefab Home

  • Quicker build time because of prefab components

  • Costs less than a stick-built home

  • Produces less material waste

  • Unlimited design and finish options

  • Energy-efficient features

  • Built to strict national building codes

Drawbacks of Prefab Homes

  • Finding land in a zone that allows for prefab homes can be challenging

  • Selling a modular home may be more challenging in some areas

9 Steps to Build a Custom Modular Home

If you’re considering building a custom modular home, you can expect the following construction process:

  1. Buy and survey land zoned for prefab homes

  2. Select and hire a custom modular home builder

  3. Secure your building permit

  4. Design your home alongside the builder and architect for custom aspects

  5. Prepare (i.e., clear and level) the land for building

  6. Build your foundation and modules simultaneously

  7. Deliver and install home on the foundation

  8. Add outdoor features including decks, porches, and landscaping

  9. Get a certificate of occupancy

Cost of Custom Modular Home

On average, building a modular home costs $100 to $200 per square foot plus the cost of land and fees such as building permits. For a 1,800-square-foot modular home, the cost is typically between $180,000 and $360,000, or $270,000 on average.

The total cost of building your new modular home depends on its square footage, size, design, and property.

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