2 | BANGOR DAILY NEWS | Friday | April 15, 2011
Why go modular? The reasons may surprise you
By Richard R. Shaw
The modular home industry has gone mainstream in the past few years. Once branded as small and boxy, today’s models are dream homes that offer everything a stickbuilt unit has, and more. Maine subdivisions are likely to contain more modulars than stickbuilts because of their competitive pricing, quick setup, and reliable construction. What exactly is a modular home? Larry Benner, general manager of Al Benner Homes on Route 1A in Holden, said it’s a unit built in a factory, engineered to high specifications, and 95 to 98 percent complete upon delivery. “They’re safe and affordable,” Benner said, “and cost 10 to 15 percent less than a stickbuilt. As for variety, we build houses and we even custom-built a modular police station in Holden.” Aaron Ball, general manager of Showcase Homes of Maine on Route 1A in
Brewer, owned by his brother, Andy Ball, emphasized modulars’ flexibility and his sales staff ’s personal touch. “We can basically build anything with a modular construction,” he said. “Ninetynine percent of our customers are happy with a modular, but if that 1 percent needs to go with a stickbuilt, we’ll tell them so. In addition to homes, we built a modular restaurant in Bucksport with two secondfloor apartments.” “Stickbuilt” is a term you’re likely to hear if you’re shopping for a modular. According to salespeople, a stickbuilt home is built from scratch on a prepared lot, by carpenters who work outdoors in all kinds of weather while a modular offers a different approach. The comparisons to a modular are striking. Modulars are built in climatecontrolled factories, so are extremely energy efficient before being delivered to the site. Often they come in two units and are lowered onto a frost wall or foundation by See WHY, Page 9
BDN FILE PHOTO
You can’t tell by looking what a modular home is anymore because technology has brought the calibur up to match that of a traditional stickbuilt home. Modular home styles now include capes, colonials, ranches, raised ranches, and custom designed homes. And modular homes can be built faster and to the specifications of the owner. With flexible floor plans and turn-key packages make modulars a quality contender.
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Do your research before buying a modular home
10 COMMON QUESTIONS FROM REAL CUSTOMERS By Richard R. Shaw Buying a modular home is a major commitment and it pays to do your homework. Modular home dealers are known for their knowledge and candor so don’t be afraid to jot down any questions you might have before stopping by their dealerships. Here are some common customer concerns:
six weeks from ordering to delivery is not uncommon. Times can vary and it is always wise to get this in writing before ordering.
6. Will a modular last as long as a stickbuilt?
Because modulars are built in factories to strict state and federal codes, they last as long, if not longer, than units put up from scratch. Advances have been made in wall thickness in the past few years.
1. Will my neighbors know I’m living in a modular home? 7. Can you help with financing? Designs range from capes to colonials, which look identical to stickbuilt homes.
2. How much will my modular cost as compared to a stickbuilt? Many modular packages are priced 10 to 15 percent less than homes built on-site.
3. Do I have a choice of home designs? Styles range from one-story ranches to elaborate two-story capes, colonials and cottages. Dealer brochures and web sites show everything there is to offer.
Modular home dealers are pros at arranging financing, normally with several local banks. Most buyers need to purchase on time so inquire about financing options.
8. Do modular dealers have experience in the business?
Many Maine dealers have been in business for more than 30 years, most having started out selling mobile homes. Some still sell single- and double-wide units in addition to manufactured and modular housing.
9. Will my new home have a solid warranty?
4. Do I get to make the choices for my Site preparation and the home itself will home’s interior? come with a written warranty which the cusMaine dealers offer a range of options, such as wall colors, granite countertops and bathroom whirlpools. No two families have the same tastes so customized interiors are available.
tomer should read carefully. It’s always wise to get information in writing.
5. How long will it take to build my modular?
Modular homes have been shown to have excellent resale potential comparable to, or better than, traditional stickbuilts.
Including site preparation and paperwork,
10. Do modulars have good resale value?
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HERMON MODULAR HOME DELIGHTS FIRST-TIME HOMEOWNER By Debra Bell SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER
Modular homes are something Anthony DelMonaco knows a lot about. DelMonaco works for his father and uncle at Thomas DiCenzo Crane Services, located in Hermon. One of the things the business does is to set modular homes on their foundations. And his parents own a Prestige modular home. So when he decided to move from renting to home ownership, he immediately thought of modular homes. “[My parents] had a really good experience,” he said, sitting at the kitchen table in his Prestige Modular Home in Hermon. “And I’ve set [homes] for a lot of manufacturers, so I can see the differences between the Canadian Homes and the
Top left: Tony DelMonaco’s Hermon modular home is the product of a collaboration between himself and modular home dealer Evolo Homes in Newport. This Prestige Home features a customized floor plan, an added porch, and two-car garage, and is set in a new housing development in Hermon. Bottom left: Just off of the kitchen is DelMonaco’s dining room. The table faces views of the backyard which often includes a flock of wild turkeys passing through. Bottom middle: Between the house and the garage is a mudroom and laundry room. This feature was added to the design of the modular home. Bottom right Design and functionality were imperative in this modular home’s kitchen. Custom cabinets surround two sides of the kitchen and a raised island features two levels of countertop: a bar area for coffee and visiting and a lower level for preparation and storage (including storage for trash and recycling). Dual ovens, and an in-counter cooktop also provide options for cooking. The appliances are all stainless steel.
The kitchen was the main thing for me. When you
have people over, the place that everyone congregates is in the kitchen.
ANTHONY DELMONACO, OWNER
American Homes.” Prestige is a Canadian-made modular home company. And they’re energy efficient modular homes. Every Prestige Home model comes with the company’s ComfortPlus energy efficiency package which includes additional insulation on outside
walls, the use of the precision building system during manufacturing which ensures tight, energy efficient, and draft free construction, premium windows and doors that maintain heating and cooling, and advanced heat recovery ventilation which keeps the house full of fresh outside air while not losing energy efficiency or heating. That experience, coupled with his firsthand experience setting modular homes for other people solidified his interest in a modular home. In fact, when he decided to build, he knew he wanted a modular. “I never did the comparison between modular and stick built homes, but I think that while the material cost is the same you probably save on labor by building a modular.” See COUNTRY, Page 8
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Country Continued from Page 7
DelMonaco chose to work with Kate and John Rush at Evolo Homes in Newport. Having worked with the modular home dealer before, he knew what to expect from the finished product. But the design process was something brand new to him. “I found the design I liked online, but I also liked some of the features in another home,” he said. “The upstairs is from one design while the downstairs is from another.” But the most important part of the house, he said, was the kitchen. “The kitchen was the main thing for me,” DelMonaco said. “When you have people over, the place where everyone congregates is in the kitchen.” DelMonaco chose deep cherry colored cabinets that were included with the house design. The kitchen is filled with smart storage options including drawers for large pots, pans, and appliances, and display space that showcase colorful plates and specialty items — such as DelMonaco’s collection of specialty beer vessels. He notes that during the design process, Evolo worked with him to accommodate functionality and his interests into the home’s designs. For instance, they added a wine and beer cooler under the counter and space for recycling and trash. Granite countertops finish off the polished kitchen design. DelMonaco also opted for an open concept design on the first floor. The living room features vaulted ceilings and a bright airy appearance and an office appears just off of the dining room and through a pair of french doors. Everything about this home screams open and bright. And that’s just what he says he wanted. The upper level of DelMonaco’s home features a different floor plan than the original house offered. That was a big selling point for him — to be able to design a house the way he wanted, at a reasonable price. The upper level, features a master suite complete with large walk-in closet and a comfortable sized bathroom, as well as several guest rooms. The quick building time, high quality control, and guidance during the design stage were big sell-
ing points too. “When I started, the whole process was hard to visualize,” he said. “John and Kate were great to work with. If I was stuck on something, there were an unlimited number of plans to look at and choose from. We could take a design from one house and piece it into the design of my house.” Even little decisions like the color of paint on the walls, and the color of grout on the tiles in the kitchen were considered when designing the modular home. DelMonaco also added a porch with pillars for support, a mudroom, and a two-car garage to the home. All of these amenities were added to enhance the look and feel of the house as well as to provide practical solutions to common problems. For instance, the mud room is located between the kitchen and garage and is perfect for removing dirty clothes, coats, and shoes before entering the
home (cutting down on cleaning time). In addition, he made the mud room also function as his laundry room. A pocket door between the mudroom and the house also provides extra appeal. The process from final design approval to arrival for placement on the foundation was quick too, but DelMonaco expected that. The house was delivered on February 5, 2010, it was completed in April, and he officially moved in on May 1. He used a construction loan from Machias Savings Bank to fund the modular home. Now that he’s a homeowner the loan has been converted to a traditional mortgage. And as a modular home owner, he knows that he has a home warranty on the modular and that in a year the company will check in to fix any settling issues (such as cracks in the drywall) and keep him up to date with any warranty
issues. That peace of mind is reassuring, he said. Today, he’s settled in nicely to the home and is prepared to celebrate one year of home ownership. Located on two acres in a housing development in Hermon, he has
room to grow. “I grew up in Calais, which is a small town,” he said. “That’s part of why I chose Hermon to build. It feels like it’s quiet and in the country, but you’re 10 minutes from the grocery store. I love it.”
Top: The master bath features a comfortable tub, shower stall (not shown) and a lavatory with dual vessel sinks. Bottom: DelMonaco’s living room, while not huge, feel spacious because of the high ceilings and open concept. Openings in the living room allow people in the living room to have access and views into the kitchen. White walls and large windows only enhance the space and allow natural light to embrace the living room. (Photographs by Terry Farren)
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BDN FILE PHOTO
If you think that modular kitchens are blah stock kitchens, think again. Modular homes come with beautiful floor plans for kitchens that will be functinal and fun. And just like the home, they can be adapted to meet your needs and budget.
Continued from Page 2 a crane. In one day your modular is nearly complete, as compared to a stickbuilt, which can take a year or more to build. At Crawford Homes Inc. on North Street in Houlton, modular homes are a major reason for their success. Like most Maine dealers, the 42-year-old company began selling mobile homes and branched out into modulars to meet a growing demand. “Modulars are stronger than stickbuilt and they cost less,” said co-owner Patricia Crawford. “We do finish work inside and outside and the homes are all built to state and federal code.” Patricia Crawford and her husband, Carl, consider all modulars manufactured housing, which also includes sectional homes and single wides. They said one way they keep costs down is to have their own employees transport and
deliver homes instead of hiring outside contractors. Unlike going the stickbuilt route, buying a modular means having a showroom staff on hand
to answer questions. You can tour homes set up on site and sales staff can work up computerized images of your new home, including an array of color schemes, carpeting
choices, and kitchens and bathrooms. Clicking on their Web sites is a good place to begin your search. They list all the manufacturers
Maine dealers do business with. For example, Al Benner Homes’ line includes Excel and Manorwood Homes. Showcase Homes of Maine sells homes manufactured by Professional Systems, Pleasant Valley, and the Maine-based company, KBS Building Systems. Among Crawford Homes Inc.’s manufacturers is Maple Leaf, based in New Brunswick. For buyers wishing to finance their modular homes, Maine dealers say the economic outlook is looking brighter. That means it’s now the time to buy your dream home. A modular is a lifelong purchase, with unmatched resale value.
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Make sure you understand your modular home warranty
Manufactured Housing Institute
Warranty coverage varies among manufacturers. Retailers must make copies of warranties offered on the homes that they sell available for you to review and read before you buy a home. Read them and compare coverage. The following questions may help you in doing this: • What coverage comes with the home? You may get warranties from the home manufacturer, the retailer, the transporter, the installer, and the appliance manufacturer. • What components and what types of problems does each warranty cover? What’s not covered? • Does the manufacturer’s written warranty cover transportation and installation? If not, are they covered by other written warranties? • How long do the warranties last? • How do I get warranty service? Who will provide it? Where will it be performed? • Are extended warranties available from the manufacturer? If so, what do they cover and cost? Manufacturer warranties generally cover substantial defects in the following areas: • Workmanship in the structure; • Factory-installed plumbing, heating, and electrical systems; • Factory-installed appliances, which may also be covered
by separate appliance manufacturer warranties. Manufacturer warranties do not cover: • Improper installation and maintenance; • Accidents; • Owner negligence; • Unauthorized repairs; • Normal wear and aging. Make sure the person who performs the installation follows the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Also ensure that the manufacturer’s maintenance and repair instructions (contained in the consumer/homeowner’s manual) are followed to keep your warranty in effect. While your retailer will perform most warranty service, the manufacturer is responsible for making sure that repairs are done and completed in a timely manner.
BDN PHOTOS BY BRIAN SWARTZ
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Ensure proper insurance pricing by consulting professionals during building and move in phases By Blake Fryer VARNEY AGENCY
As a specialist in the modular industry, Varney Agency represents clients in every phase of the building process. Whether it is the logger, sawmill, manufacturer, modular builder or the homeowner, we understand what it takes to get the right coverage at the right price. Market conditions in the insurance industry are leveling off, but savings are still to be had for those who have not priced their policies in the past few years. Insurance companies are still willing to sharpen their pencils and broaden policy coverages. With our experience in the modular industry, we have also seen insurance companies add industry specific coverages they would not normally have been willing to offer. BDN PHOTO BY BRIAN SWARTZ It is also extremely important to conduct
annual policy reviews. For the business owner it is important to not only adjust sales and payroll numbers which dictate the cost of insurance, but to properly recognize any new business functions which may not automatically be covered under the policy. For the homeowner, it is important to update such items such as the replacement cost and/or any recent additions. We are also seeing an increased number of clients using our safety and claims management services to drive down the cost of worker comp and liability. These, along with reducing the comp experience mod, are still “hot buttons” of many of our clients. By investing a little time with your Agent, you will not only improve your bottom line, but you’ll make sure you are properly protected. Now, more than ever, is the time to engage your Agent as a true partner to make sure you are protecting what is important to you.
Broughman Continued from Page 12
questions being asked of us.” Broughman Builders kicked off 2011 with a newly redesigned website and an online catalog of floor plans and models so you can browse at your leisure. “One of the things we’re very proud of, is that in 32 years of being in business, we’ve attained and maintained an A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau,” he said.“Many people choose their builder based on this rating.” If you’re interested in learning more about modular homes or about what makes them worth of the A+ rating, plan on stopping by their open house on April 30 from 9 to 5. Wight said there will be free hot dogs as well as specialists available to show off the four models on site and answer questions about financing. In addition, Broughman Builders’ sister company, Downeast Kitchen Design Center will be open, with everything you need to make your house a home.
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Experience, quality homes, and service count are the number one priority at Broughman Builders By Debra Bell SPECIAL SECTIONS WRITER
For over 19 years, Broughman Builders, located 6 Acadia Way on Route 1 in Ellsworth, has offered Mainers quality modular homes as well as stickbuilt solutions. And now, Broughman Builders has expanded its modular brand inventory to include Kent Homes. When Sargent’s Homes closed its business, Broughman Builders’ owners Mike and Daisy Wight saw an opportunity. “Kent Homes had a really big showing in Maine,” Mike Wight said. “We are pleased to care for current clients and to provide new clients with this brand. We’re honored that Kent Homes found us worthy enough to take care of these customers and it is a perfect fit.” Broughman Builders also offers modular homes by Pro-Fab, Pennwest Homes, Connor Homes, and Maine Rustic Cottages.
Each brand offers solutions unique to a variety of price points. And in addition to selling the modular homes, he said, Broughman Builders excels when it comes to service after the sale. “We’re not just salesmen,” he said. “We’re carpenters and we can do everything in house.” In fact, Broughman Builders has been in business for over 32 years. What started as a company that solely built homes by hand, has turned into a full-service operation. Wight said that his staff can not only put the modular up once it arrives from the factory, but they can add the porch, deck, or garage that would take the house and turn it into a home. “We’re general contractors,” he said. “From the first shovel of gravel to the last drop of paint, we can do it all for our customers.” And that’s important, he said, because putting up a modular is more than just
6 Acadia Way, Rte. 1 • Ellsworth 207.667.7870 broughmanbuilders.com
Visit us at this year’s Home Show! Stop by Booths 225, 226 & 227 at the Civic Center, April 15, 16, 17
designing, ordering, and setting it on the foundation. Modular homes require sitework, finishing work, and the skills of a general contractor. “We can do the whole package,” he said.“And
when it comes to warranty work, we’ll show up with a smile on our face and fix it. Regardless of if it’s warranty work or we’re bidding on a house, we’re very much attentive to the See BROUGHMAN, Page 11
Build With Style & Confidence Join us at our Annual Open House April 30th from 9-5 Acadia Way, RT. 1 Ellsworth.
• First, your home is meticulously verified at every stage of production using a comprehensive quality management approach.
Proud Builder of the Ray-Smith Home Milbridge, Maine 2007 www.extrememakeovermaine.com
• Our homes are built in a controlled environment. • Our homes are easily customized to fit your taste and budget • Broughman Builders takes care of the entire project for you – from start to finish! • Call us today to start turning your dream into your dream home! Like us on FACEBOOK and recieve “The 10 Questions You Must Ask Your Builder Before Building A New Home” - So you dont get burned! Text your name and email to 207-358-6304 to download for FREE!
Published on Apr 15, 2011
Spring is here, and that means its time to start thinking about building YOUR modular home. This informational guide provides background for...