Thursday, June 07, 2007

if it is not one thing, it's something else

Lessee, where were we?

Ah yes. My husband and I had just learned that the house we had a contract on was a modular building only 6 hours prior to the deadline after which our contract to buy the house became binding. And several of those hours were supposed to be spent working not researching modular homes.


Because my financial and personal well being was at stake, I naturally let work slide momentarily and spent a few hours on the hunt for bad news about modular homes.

I couldn't really find any.

I found a number of sites that confused modular with mobile or manufactured homes. There's also one site in which the problems appeared to be about bad construction which is something you could potentially get from any new home and that a third-party inspector could find for you. Some sites mention environmental hazards like off-gassing from the materials inside the house but that appears to be a problem with most new construction except the prohibitively expensive environmentally friendly stuff.

But why didn't they tell us it was modular?

Content that the modularity of the home was not a deal breaker, I crawled into bed and while I slept the contract slipped out of its tenuous state into permanence. Three hours and half hours later, my brain decided it was no longer content and rattled the rest of me out of slumber. I spent the next three hours on more research.

Is that legal? Not tell us in advance that it is a modular home? Maybe the fact that it was modular isn't a bad thing but if these people are being deceptive, what else are they hiding???

Not only did I find not much more bad about modular homes, but I learned much that was reassuring. For example:

* Modular homes are not mobile homes. They're permanently affixed to a real, state-approved foundation.

* While mobile homes have to comply with the regulations for the place in which they're manufactured, modular homes must comply with the place at which they're going to be installed. This means they're designed to deal better with the environmental conditions of the area than mobile homes.

* They're typically shipped in two or three peices and they have to be built sturdier than regular homes because the chunks have to survive a long trip bouncing down the highway.

* They're considered greener than regular homes. This is because they're built more efficiently so they waste fewer materials.

* They're built in a controlled environment so you don't have to worry about materials being adversely effected by the elements during the construction process.

* They're kind of "the shit" among alot of modern architects. Of course, I think most of these folks are excited about the crazy boxy, stackable types they use in Scandinavian countries but still.

I also found the website of the Something Something Something Bureau that regulates the construction of modular homes. It has all sorts of information most of which went completely over my head except this list of things the builder is required to provide you. I even checked with a couple of architects I know and they both had good things to say about either modular homes in general or our house in particular.


But ... why didn't they tell us from the beginning that it was modular??? That ain't right!

I put this question to our real estate agent. He put it to the builder. The builder's reply:

"I didn't think we needed to tell you. It is all over our marketing materials. It is on the sign at the front of the house."

Bullshit! I saw that sign. It said:

Matthew & Rita Berman
Some Phone Numbers
Something & Something Else Homes

So I drove over to the house after work. Guess what "Something" & "Something Else" were?








Blogger Mandy said...

Where might one find a photo of this home, or one like it? I'm intrigued!!

6:54 AM

Anonymous kw said...

Glad you made peace with mod homes. They are the shit...look at Modernists love them because they can make typically cost-probihitive modern design possible. And as you mentioned, they are usually green. And don't beat yourself up. Your realtor *cough* should have been aware. Or at least been informed (or open minded) enough not to pass on scary information.

10:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

there aint much wrong with modular. To be honest, I think I'd rather have a house built in a factory than a house built onsite these days. To my eyes most modern construction is pretty shitty, unless you pay really, really big bucks. If you guys like the house and it feels right, go for it.

-Matt K.

8:19 PM

Blogger zen imbecile said...

Mandy, I'll try to find a photo for you. The house is really cute. It certainly doesn't look like a "modular" home. It looks like a craftsman bungalow with a big porch and high ceilings.

kw, thankfully the realtor wasn't passing on scary information. He just wasn't passing on any information. And I'm just not the type of person who finds statements like "I'm sure it is fine." or "I don't know why you're worried about that." reassuring when large piles of cash are at stake.

3:33 AM


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