An affordable, custom home combines modular units with on-site construction, shedding light on the strengths and weaknesses of factory-built homes.
Synopsis: With their cookie-cutter approach to construction and limited options for windows, cabinets, and millwork, modular homes rarely illustrate thoughtful design and careful craftsmanship. But associate editor Chris Ermides writes about a “hybrid” house that combines the best features of modular construction — such as less waste, less exposure to the elements, and better control over costs — with on-site construction. This house, in Durham, N.C., is one example of an effort by custom-home builders to capitalize on the modular model without sacrificing design and construction integrity. It was built from three modules delivered by truck and stitched together on site with a roof and two walls.
It isn’t often that the term modular is used to describe a custom-built home. And why would it? Modular homes are designed from stock plans and made of factory-built modules finished with limited options for windows, cabinets, and millwork. What’s more, they rarely illustrate the mindful design and impeccable craftsmanship found in custom homes. The point is that most modular-built homes aren’t custom anything.
Cookie-cutter drawbacks aside, modular construction does have some benefits worth paying attention to. For example, there’s less waste because offcuts from one module end up as part of another project. And the house never sees a drop of rain until it’s weatherproof and finished. For these reasons and more, custom-home builders like Randy Lanou and his design/build firm BuildSense (www.buildsense.com) are finding ways to capitalize on the modular-built model without sacrificing design and construction integrity. Lanou calls the result a “hybrid” house: part modular, part site-built. This project in Durham, N.C., is a great example of how the two can come together in a way that benefits the builder and the homeowner.
Design starts with the limitations
House modules need to…