Prefab Houses

Parent Q&A

Prefab/modular home Jun 21, 2019 (2 responses below)
Buying land for a prefab modular home? Aug 8, 2017 (1 responses below)
  • Prefab/modular home

    (2 replies)

    Does anyone have expirience with building a prefab/modular home in Berkeley? Are there any savings in time and costs? Difficulties with permits? Quality? Any company you would recommend? This is to replace a small dwelling (700sqft) to be demolished, and utilities are already in place.

    RE: Prefab/modular home ()

    The Chronicle just had an article in which this company was mentioned http://www.valleyhomedevelopment.com/. The article is about ADUs, https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Bay-Area-Accessory-Dwelling-Un..., but it looks like the building went well for the person in the article and the company has floorplans of various sizes up to 1000 sq ft.

    RE: Prefab/modular home ()

    Hi,

    I would be more than happy to talk to you about my ADU.  I used Valley Home Development.  If you would like to chat why don't you let me know a few times/days that would work for you.

  • Buying land for a prefab modular home?

    (1 reply)

    Has anyone purchased land and put a prefab /modular home on it? We're contemplating moving further out in order to afford a home. Is it crazy to buy some "cheap" land and build a house? Is it possible to build a home for under $400k (not including land)?  Where did you start? Any modular home company recs? Contractor recs? Do they walk you through the cost process to make sure you're actually going to be able to afford it? Is there a company that walks you through the process? What type of land to buy, surveys, permitting, etc?  Trying to figure out if we're crazy (or just desperate) for considering it. 

    Thanks!

    My husband and I bought land a few years ago. We've not yet built on it. Our next-door neighbors' house (architect-designed mod two bedroom, one bath, 1000 square foot prefab) was nearly $500,000 to build, not including the land, but including site costs and everything else. Rural parcel with a (slightly sloped) building pad, entry road, and well already in place. My guesstimate is that you can get a nice turnkey prefab modular home--just the module--in N California, created by a Dwell-magazine type prefab builder (Living Homes, Alchemy Architects), built for around $200 a square foot.

    Things that get tricky to put a price on are the costs specific to your site. Land that is "cheap" might be low-priced for a reason--it may be a difficult parcel to build upon. Are you looking for remote land, or an empty parcel in a town? Just a slight few of very many issues my husband and I have encountered when we bought remote-ish land near Ukiah: 

    Waste. Are you going to have a septic system? Is the land approved for it? Does the land have a permit for septic in place? Will it be an easy system to install, or difficult? Or do you have access to county sewage? How much is that hookup?

    Electricity: Our HOA doesn't allow above-ground power lines, only buried ones. Land might be sold as having PG&E being available on the property, but the box that brings PG&E to your parcel might be very far from where you are going to set your house. It can be expensive to install. Our quote was $30,000. Solar-only for our neighbor cost about the same.

    Water: County water? Or is there a well? Trying to locate water and then drilling a deep well can be very expensive. Don't buy land without being absolutely sure there's water on it. 

    Building site: Is it a level and clear building pad? Or is it on a slope and littered with boulders? Is there a driveway? Is there a road to the parcel? Who maintains it? Is the parcel fenced and/or gated? How is the drainage around your building site--will you have to move dirt around, cut culverts and drains?

    Modular delivery: How far are you from the manufacturer (delivery is charged by the mile)? How much will the crane to set the unit in place cost? Are there any hairpin turns up to your building pad that might make your module difficult to deliver?

    Financing: It seems difficult to get bank financing for land. We were able to get the seller to carry the loan after giving a large down payment. Also, getting a construction loan might be rough. Many banks don't give loans to build because if the contractor flakes, the bank is left with an unfinished house. You might be best served by a builder who will also offer you a loan to buy the land and build, or build on land you own, if you use her/him.

    These are only a few possible issues to consider. 

    If we had the chance to buy land again, we would probably look for a parcel that could be subdivided. Some of our neighbors bought this sort of parcel, waited a few years, then sold the lesser parcel and used the money to partly fund the building of their house. It's risky, of course. Even nice land can sit on the market for a long time before finding a buyer. 

    You might want to look for land that has a house on it already. Then, add to and/or improve the house that is in place. 

    Hope this is a little bit helpful!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions Related Pages

Buying a Modular or Manufactured Home

Aug 2013

Has anyone ever purchased a modular or manufactured home and had it installed on a lot? This seems like it may be the only way a somewhat low income (or high debt) person can become a home owner. What company did you use? Any advice? Is this a really bad idea? I am mostly retired, will be living mostly alone so I don't need a large place. I've been browsing modular log homes, which appeal to me strongly since I'll be living in the Sierra. I'm just not sure how (or whether) to proceed. Need a home


On the modular home question, yes, I think it might be a good way to go. I have not done this myself but in the course of my work I deal a lot with buildings and energy efficiency. Historically, modular and factory-built homes have been associated with the low end of the industry. There is no reason that this has to be true. There is a high-end modular home company, Blu Homes (www.bluhomes.com) with a factory in Vallejo--their product is nothing short of stunning (they are offering factory and home tours this month). However, they are fairly expensive. Another company, Zeta (www.zetabuilt.com), aims at the more ''affordable'' or market rate. Another, All American (www.allamericanhomes.com) does the same. I have been to the Zeta factory (a privatization project at the former McClellan air base near Sacramento)--they are very ''quality oriented.'' All of the things that need to be done to make a building shell ''tight'' and well-constructed are, on balance, more easily controlled in a factory environment. Anyway, check out these companies. Peter T


Advice on building a pre-fab home

Dec 2012

Has anyone had experience buying a piece of land and building a pre-fabricated home in the East Bay? My husband is convinced that this is the most cost-effective way to go, but I would love to hear from someone who has been through it. We have found parcels of land for around $100,000 in parts of town we couldnt touch in terms of buying something pre-existing, and the cost of the funky, super-green prefab we like is about $300,000. I'm sure there must be all sorts of permitting costs and restrictions, or else everyone would be doing it, right?

We are relatively recent east coast transplants, so we want to get out of our rental house and start feeling like we really LIVE here. I would just rather not get totally hosed in the process. if we build it, are we dumb?


I've not built one for myself, but as an architect I've been involved with these types of projects previously, and do know a bit about the whole process in general. A lot of the 'hidden' cost depends on the location (city), lot conditions (flat or hilly), soil conditions, the type of prefab system, and most of all, the actual terms of the contract proposal. Some prefabs are inclusive of everything (land preparartion, uitility connections, foundations, assembly, etc), while others only offer on-site delivery and perhaps placement/assembly. For a conventional pre-built in two or three sections, assembly is usually included, but not alway the other stuff, while other systems require more extensive assembly on site, for example a SIPS system. A SIPS house is generally more expensive than a more conventionally constructed home, but are very energy efficient as well. The later generally includes assembly, but may still require foundations, utilities, etc to be installed by others. Since you don't have a site yet, your contract may not include some of these things. Regulatory fees can be substantial, and are generally not part of the contract. These may include: fees to join the school district (required of all new homes), planning review fees, permit fees, utility connection fees, geotechical survey, topograraphic survey and park fees. School district, for example may range from 10-12K to well over 20k. Utilities connection fees, not the actual work to connect them, are usually in the range or 6-10K, but may be higher. A geotech report and topographic survey may cost $6-10K+. Permit and review fees, are about 4-6% of estimated construction cost, and park fees can be anywhere from $1-$2 per square foot to as high as $8-$10 per SF. Other fees could be required as well. Location, location, location is a primary determinate of these fees. Total regulatory fees can total $40-$80k+. If you need to provide foundations at your own cost, the total 'hidden' cost could well exceed $100k. And if you want something like solar panels, or landscaping and irrigatiion, a driveway...you get the idea. There are a lot of other costs to consider beside simply fabrication, delivery and placement. Hope this helps, and I'd advise researching these possible cost and regulatory requirements prior to making any offer on a vacant parcel or signing a contract. rcbs3