dining area into the living room with a sky view
dormer window inside a Skyline manufactured
modular home, one of the several types of modular
homes that can be found at Hartzler's Quality
Housing, on May 1, 2014, in New Philadelphia,
Ohio — Factory-built homes have long suffered from an
it’s time for that image to change, representatives
from the industry say.
Williams, executive director of the Ohio Manufactured
Homes Association, thinks people may be surprised by the
homes if they see them.
think they’re just trailers," he said. "…
If they see it, I think they’ll realize the
benefits" in terms of affordability and quality.
aren’t the shoddily built tin cans of old. They’re
well-constructed, energy-efficient homes, Williams and
his colleagues insist.
Koones agrees. She’s the author of five books on
prefabricated housing, including her latest, "Prefabulous
said she became fascinated by factory-built housing when
a friend had one built. One day Koones was watching the
house go up on the site, and the next day her friend was
inviting her to walk through the finished structure.
was totally blown away. … I thought, this is like a
miracle," she said.
believes the merits of building homes in factories are
many. The environment is controlled, she said, so there
are no weather delays or problems such as mold or
warping from wood getting wet. The process saves time,
because homes can be built quicker with assembly-line
methods than they can on site, and because the
foundation and structure can be built simultaneously. It
saves money, because materials can be purchased in bulk
and protected from job-site theft. And it’s more
precise, because computer-controlled machinery and
construction methods can be used that yield precise cuts
and walls that are perfectly square.
Koones’ favorite aspect of prefabricated housing is
its sustainability. Houses built in factories often
incorporate energy-saving features such as generous
insulation and careful sealing, and construction waste
is greatly reduced because unused materials are used in
the next house or recycled, she said.
many people still think factory-built housing is
inferior. "This is like the best-kept secret in
America," Koones said.
factory-built homes are sometimes confused with mobile
homes, they’re not the same. Mobile homes — an
outgrowth of travel trailers — haven’t been made
since 1976, when a set of federal construction and
safety standards called the HUD Code took effect.
homes are often made from two or more sections that are
transported to the home site and joined together there.
But the number of sections is limited only by the
manufacturer’s capacity to produce them. Even mansions
are built from factory-made modules, Koones pointed out.
show in Green is intended to promote two types of
factory-built housing, manufactured homes and modular
homes. The two are very similar, but because
manufactured homes don’t have to be permanently
situated, those are the only kind that will be on
difference between those two types lies in the base they
rest atop and the construction standards they must meet.
are built on steel frames, enabling them to be
transported from the factory to the home site — often
in sections that are joined on the site. But a modular
home is lifted off the frame and set on a permanent
foundation, whereas with a manufactured home, the frame
remains part of the structure.
though a manufactured home could conceivably be moved
again, Williams said most manufactured homes on private
property are placed on permanent foundations, frame and
homes are built to the standards of the HUD code,
whereas a modular home has to meet the state or local
building code governing its permanent site.
pretty much where the difference ends, said Ed Hartzler,
owner of Hartzler’s Quality Housing, a factory-built
home dealership in Dover Township, Ohio. "If you
walk in the interior of them," he said, "you
couldn’t tell the difference."
about plain facades and ugly features like the old
vinyl-covered gypsum wall panels that were once common
in factory-built homes. In today’s homes, the interior
walls usually are covered with drywall, and details such
as tray ceilings and dormers may be added, the promoters
homes are created with standard construction methods,
but unlike site-built homes, they’re constructed from
the inside out, noted Bob Van Schuyver, Ohio regional
manager of UMH Properties Inc., which owns and operates
manufactured home communities in seven states.
recent tour of the Skyline Homes factory in Sugarcreek,
Ohio, showed what Van Schuyver meant.
construction process starts with the floor of each house
section, which is built as an insulated component with
all the ductwork and plumbing lines in place. Once the
floor goes onto the steel frame, the various sections of
the house are joined together, and the house is built as
one unit for the rest of the construction process. That
way, even though the house is split into sections for
shipping, all the parts will fit together perfectly when
they’re rejoined on the house site, said Jim
Gallagher, division sales manager for Skyline Homes.
house moves from station to station, where elements such
as interior walls, plumbing fixtures and kitchen
cabinets are installed. At the same time the exterior
walls are going up and the roof is being installed, work
such as installing drywall and running electrical lines
is going on inside the house.
exterior walls of some of Skyline’s homes are built
with 2-by-6 studs, which creates a deeper wall with more
space for insulation than construction using 2-by-4s,
Gallagher said, Metal straps reinforce the frame to help
it withstand storms.
walls are built on tables using a jig, so everything is
square, he said.
the time the house leaves the factory, the walls have
been painted, the flooring has been laid, and even the
draperies and blinds have been installed. The only
things left unfinished are the ends of the house, and
that’s so the siding can be installed on the permanent
site to cover the seam between house sections, Gallagher
the house arrives on the home site, it usually takes
about two weeks of finishing work before it’s ready to
move in, Hartzler said. Gallagher said it might take six
weeks altogether from the time a house is ordered until
it’s ready for occupancy.
factory-built home costs about $42 a square foot,
Williams said. Nationally, construction costs for
site-built homes averaged $95 a square foot in 2013,
according to the National Association of Home Builders.
said she believes it all adds up to value.
think this is the future of home building," she