The Cost of Building Modular – What Does the Price Tag Mean on a Modular Home?

You have the quote on that modular home plan you love so much. But, how do you analyze it? Just what does that price include? You might be in for a surprise!
The real cost of building a modular home includes many more things than the price tag on the home itself. Now, this may seem logical to you but through the years I’ve found that many people simply are not aware of all that is involved. You want to be a smart shopper so let’s clear up some of the confusion.
The Costs Behind the Price Tag
Here’s a quick glance at some of the things that you’ll have to add to the price tag of a modular home. Each company has its own way of doing things but this will give you some guidelines to consider as you research:

  • Upgrades on finishing items: Typically, you’ll want to upgrade things like trim, cabinets, floor coverings, counter tops and light fixtures to name a few.
  • Building permits and fees: This is the same as required for building a site-built home from scratch.
  • Preparing the land and foundation: Must be exacting so that the pre-built home fits perfectly.
  • Well and septic systems: Of course, if you’re in the city with these services already to your site, you’ll still need to pay for hook-up charges.
  • Shipping to your building site: This may or may not be included in initial quotes. Often it isn’t included because there is no way to know shipping costs until they know where their potential customer is building.
  • Assembly of the main modular sections: Again, this is usually not included in the basic price tag. Heavy equipment is needed and trained contractors will be hired.
  • Trade subcontractors: Needed to complete the plumbing, heating and air, and electrical systems once the sections are assembled
  • Finishing subcontractors: Finish carpenters, floor covering contractors, tile layers, and many other finishing contractors will be needed to complete the home before it’s livable.

Naturally, all these items are costs that need to be added to the price tag of the modular home to represent the true cost of building it. As you can imagine, it can add up.


Modular Home Building May be the Simplest to Cost Out


All in all, however, building a modular home might just be the easiest home building project to calculate costs. Certainly easier than building from scratch and even easier than building most kit or packaged homes, log homes, cedar homes, or panelized homes. This is because with a modular, much more labor and quite a bit more finishing materials are included in the home before it reaches your site.


In addition to these advantages, the manufacturers of modular homes often have excellent methods of estimating the costs of on site labor and material requirements. As an educated buyer, you’ll demand this kind of help.


Preparation Steps to Complete Your Calculations


What you’re looking for before you make your purchasing decision is a very accurate estimation of all the costs involved. With this article, you now know what to ask. Here are the steps I recommend:

  1. Get the price for the basic home package you want
  2. Have the company provide you with the list and costs of upgrades
  3. Go to your building authority and request a list of required permits and their fees
  4. Take the plans and get foundation estimates from contractors and/or use the estimates from other clients of the manufacturer that are in your area
  5. Use the estimations of the modular manufacturer to calculate on site assembly costs for the home as well as for finishing work

These are the main areas you’ll need pricing for when calculating your costs for completing your home. There may be more depending on your situation but this gives you a good start. At least now you won’t be blindsided by a salesperson who is over zealous in trying to make a sale.


As always, even with modular homes, I recommend the use of a home building coach. This small investment can save you thousands. Keep researching and learning.

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