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The Difference Between a Module Home and a Traditional Home

If you’re considering building a custom home, this question has likely come up: should I go with a modular or stick-built design? There are several pros and cons to each that you should consider. But first, let’s discuss the difference between the two styles. 

What is the Difference?

Modular homes are constructed off-site in a factory. They are built-in units or pieces that are then shipped over to the actual construction site to be assembled together. Other common names for this style of home are “prefab homes,” “systems-built,” and “factory-built” since most if not all of the construction, besides assembly, of course, is done beforehand. All the contractors have to do is put the sections together according to the homeowner’s preferences.

House miniature under construction on an architect desk

Stick built is the classic construction method where the entire house is built from bottom to top right on site. There is no transporting of sections of the house involved with this design. Contractors will first construct the frame of the house with wooden boards (sticks) and continue adding on until the house is completed. 

Pros of Modular Homes

More Affordable 

Factory-built homes tend to be less expensive than stick-built homes because they are manufactured in bulk in factories where houses are constructed every day. New homeowners can save a lot of money on the materials cost.

Faster to Construct

Modular homes are built completely indoors, so there are fewer delays from things like poor weather and missing materials. Also, since they are built on assembly lines that have the construction process down to a science, they have a much faster and smoother process than stick-built homes do. The controlled construction setting in a factory lowers the likelihood that mistakes will occur. Once the building is done, the pieces are sent to the site and simply assembled together by a few contractors. 

More Durable

Systems-built homes are constructed with 20-30% more materials because they must be strong enough to endure delivery to the site. This makes them a durable and reliable option for new homeowners. Each station in the line is managed by a master craftsman with extensive building experience, assuring the highest quality in the material and construction. In addition, all the materials are pre-approved by the state and local building standards.

Cons of Modular Homes

Land and Sizing Issues

Modular home designs do not always allow for sizing flexibility; therefore, you may run into issues with getting your home to fit on just any lot. You might have to spend extra time either finding land that can fit the modular layout you chose or selecting a blueprint that fits your lot. So, even though prefab homes are faster to build, the time it could take to find the right land or the right design could outweigh that advantage.

Pros of Traditional Homes

Limitless Customization

Probably the biggest benefit of choosing a stick-built design is the ability to customize your home any way you want to. Because this design is built completely from scratch with no set modules or units, you can make changes and updates as the building progresses. This design allows you to create the home you desire with the details you want. There are no factory restrictions here!

Appreciation Value

Although both modular and stick-built homes appreciate over the years, stick-built homes tend to appreciate more as they are built right on site. In addition, they are completely customizable, which helps increase their value over time. Homeowners who choose to build a custom home from scratch, however, need to consider designs that potential future residents would like. 

Cons of Stick Built Homes

More Expensive

Because stick-built homes are 100% customizable, they tend to be more expensive than modular homes which use standard material in bulk. The fact that they are built completely on-site instead of in a factory also lends to the higher cost. They often require more contractors on-site to build the house from the ground up whereas prefab homes only need a few contractors to put all the prefabricated sections together and add on finishing touches.

Longer Building Process

The on-site building is susceptible to longer construction periods due to things like poor weather and the absence of certain materials that need to be sent to the site. The customization process also lengthens the time frame as contractors need to communicate with the homeowners about what they want, plan out the changes, and add those personalizations to the home.