Finally Building On Your Vacant Land? What Are Your Options?

If you purchased a plot of vacant land a few years (or even decades) ago with intentions of building your dream home from the ground up, you may have finally decided that there's no time like the present to get started. However, the prospect of custom building a home can be overwhelming, especially when you're forced to make hundreds of decisions (from floor plan to fixtures) quickly while also arranging constructing financing, packing your household belongings, and investigating moving truck rental rates. Could a pre-designed modular home in lieu of custom construction be a suitable cost- and time-saving option for your family? Read on to learn more about your most efficient and cost-effective options when it comes to building your next home.

What are your options when it comes to new construction?

A few decades ago, those who wanted a new home had only a couple of options -- a site-built custom home or a manufactured (mobile) home. Both options had their drawbacks: custom-built homes could be pricey and time-consuming to construct, while mobile homes tended to depreciate over time and were more susceptible to storm damage due to their thinner, lighter frames. Manufactured homes were also generally available only in "single-wide" or "double-wide" sizes, which could make it difficult for a larger family to find suitable accommodations. 

However, the advent of modular homes -- a home that is as sturdy as a site-built home but constructed in a factory and assembled on-site -- has added a new option for those who want a brand-new home but don't want to be bothered with the hundreds of decisions inherent in the construction of a custom site-built home. Unlike traditional manufactured homes, modular homes are built to the same specifications as site-built homes and appreciate in value at approximately the same rate as these homes (rather than depreciating over time like mobile homes). In fact, because many modular home manufacturers sell their products in multiple states, those who live in states with fairly lax building codes may find that a modular home is actually higher-quality than a site-built home due to the need to comply with stricter states' building regulations. 

How can you decide whether a site-built or modular home is right for your family? 

Although many families can be equally happy in a custom site-built home or a modular home, there are a few advantages (and disadvantages) of each that may make your decision easier. 


Obtaining financing for a modular home can sometimes be simpler and more streamlined than trying to finance new construction. Because this home is essentially pre-built before purchase, your lender will have a much better idea of the home's ultimate value and may allow you to obtain this property with a lower down payment than required for construction loans. In some cases, you may even qualify for federally-backed financing through the USDA, FHA, or other programs that can allow you to purchase with a minimal down payment -- instead saving that money for moving costs or other expenses you'll encounter when outfitting your new home.    

On the other hand, taking out a construction loan may require you to put at least 10 percent or as much as 20 percent down, giving you less financial flexibility when it comes to making changes at the last minute.

Timing and weather 

Since the construction market has picked back up in most regions following the Great Recession, it can sometimes be difficult to get yourself on a contractor's calendar during the time frame you'd like your home to be built. Those who live in temperate regions may also find themselves battling the elements, as rain, snow, or other precipitation can make it difficult for crews to work (or even cause water damage to your home's framing if a heavy storm hits before roofing can be installed). 

In contrast, a modular home is constructed inside a dry, climate-controlled factory and installed on-site with a crane or other piece of heavy equipment, making it easier to schedule installation for a dry, sunny day (and reducing the odds that your home will be damaged by weather during the construction process). You'll also be able to give your final OK to floorplan and fixture changes while your home is still at the factory, all but eliminating the odds that you'll discover a problem when walking through your home for the first time. 

For more information and options, talk with a modular home builder in your area.