There is a lot to love in a 7,200 square-foot French Country-style house. At a price of $2.5 million one would expect the symmetrical beauty of roof dormers and expansive patio doors, plus the latest in energy efficiency gadgets like geothermal heat pumps. But the extra bonus in this lovely home in Bethesda, Maryland is that it went from box to complete exterior in 32 hours. The six bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath house arrived in 21 neatly packed boxes from a factory in State College, Penn. The McMansion has gone modular!
Custom modular is what it’s called now. It bears as little resemblance to the double-wide trailer as a Lexus crossover does to Henry Ford’s Model-A. Modular homes continue to be a very small percentage of the national home-building market but with construction time at about one-half that of a stick-built house and a price break of about 15%, growth is expected. Architects of reputation are teaming with manufacturers to design Georgians, Federals and Mediterraneans on the latest in computer-assisted drafting tables.
New owners could not be happier. As for neighbors along York Lane in Bethesda, and in developments with names like Greenwich Forest, Phillips Park and Edgemoor, they are becoming converts, if grudging ones, to the manufactured home.
To be sure, not everybody is happy. For some folks there is nothing quite so satisfactory as a muddy building lot strewn with housing debris for 18 months, with timbers exposed to the elements and a Jiffy-John ensconced behind the one remaining tree. How’s that for curb appeal!
The high-end market aside, manufactured houses get buyers into homes faster and at lower costs. Stock designs and factory precision help to keep costs down. At a time when employment in manufacturing is falling, foreclosed and abandoned homes are being bulldozed and middle income families can’t get a mortgage loan, manufactured houses looks more and more line a winner.