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Selecting A Modular or Manufactured Home

  1. Budget/Financing:  Overall budget is the key to any choice.  It will play a huge role in the location and home.  On financing, remember that variable rates are usually lower than fixed rates but, while your payment may be lower now, it can spike so make sure you factor what the payment would be at the worst case scenario.
  2. Location:  Have you determined what town and what area of town you prefer? Considerations include proximity to services, schools, emergency services and obviously work?   Please see our Land Selection section for land/location ideas.  This can affect the home you choose because if your budget is “X” and the land is “X” then there is only so much left for the house.  When there’s a choice to make, will you choose the ideal lot and lesser home or vice versa?
  3. Type:  Are you interested in a modular or manufactured home? For manufactured homes, single or multi-section. Multi-section homes are similar to modular ranch in size and feel but are definitely further from being “mobile” than single section homes. Single section homes are more easily made mobile if you are renting a lot and want to move to another leased lot or to your own land. If it’s modular, do you want one floor or two floors? They say it’s always cheaper to go up but going up involves stairs, so it’s not always easier! If you plan on staying in a home long term, make sure the home you are choosing is built to satisfy your current and potential needs. One planning example: choose a two story house with a main floor laundry and master bedroom.
  4. Size: Is the size good for now and in the future? Also, are you overbuilding or underbuilding for your neighborhood. Both can impact your resale potential.
  5. Bedrooms/Bathrooms: What do you need now and in the future?  The most common set-up is a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom.  Some don’t need it but look towards resale value.
  6. Basement or Slab:  These are things to take into consideration but are typically assigned by type of home.  A modular is almost always on a foundation but can be put on a crawlspace.  A doublewide is almost always on a slab but can be put on a foundation. Full foundations can be great for storage or future expansion but drive construction costs up.
  7. Garage now or plan for future?:  Make sure to account for a gable end entrance if the garage will be attached to the home or if there is a possibility of it.  If not then a gable end entrance is not a necessity.
  8. Long term maintenance: For example, making sure the home has long term maintenance free features is important. Examples include vinyl siding, vinyl windows, 30 year shingles, etc. Maybe even a metal roof for decades of peace of mind.
  9. What are the estimated property taxes?: Property taxes are something that many don’t factor into their budget but can represent a large proportion of your expenses. And…we’ve rarely seen them go down over time! Specifically in Vermont, even though you are getting a state payment reducing your property taxes now doesn’t mean that 5 years from now you won’t be responsible for the whole amount. Those payments are linked to income as well as budgeting at the state level so as your income goes up, they may get smaller.  
  10. Heating system: Forced hot air heat is available in manufactured and modular homes. Hot air heat is sourced from a furnace that burns propane, natural gas (limited availability in Vermont) and oil/kerosene. Heat is distributed through a network of ducts to adjustable registers throughout the home. Hot Air furnaces on manufactured homes are located on the main floor. In Modular homes, they can be ordered from the manufacturer of the homes to be located on the main floor or can be installed in the basement by a local contractor. The ductwork in forced air systems can also be used to distribute cool air if an air conditioner is installed. Hot water baseboard heat can be installed in modular homes. The registers are typically optioned to come installed from the factory but the furnace needs to be installed by a local contractor in most cases. Heat pumps are becoming more popular and could be a serious option. From our experience, heat pumps are great systems but a secondary heat source should be contemplated in the event of power loss or extreme temperatures.
  11. Electrical: Electrical services vary but typical panel boxes are 100 or 200 amp, although increasingly both manufactured and modular are becoming standardized to include 200 amp panels only. Some considerations in manufactured homes include what other site related items like septic pumps, wells, and outbuildings need to be powered because panel boxes have very limited room for additional breakers. Oversized panels are available from some manufacturers and should be discussed up front. Modular homes come with more standard sized panels and will typically have room to expand.