Modular Homes

What is a modular home?

There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace about what a modular home actually is. A modular home is NOT a mobile home. Simply put, a modular home is one that is built in a factory, usually in assembly-line fashion, and then transported to a site in large units. These units are then lifted from the transport by crane and rested on a foundation and fastened together. 

Once assembled, the construction process of a modular home is just like that of a conventional build: It’ll be hooked up to utilities, and the interior will be fitted with appliances, cabinetry, flooring — all the bells and whistles.

The entire process takes a fraction of the time it takes to build a house on-site, and the finished product can often save the client money compared to a stick frame.

Learn more about what does a modular home cost.

What is the difference between a modular home and a manufactured home?

The major difference between manufactured, mobile, and modular homes is the way that they are constructed.

Manufactured homes are completely constructed in a factory and then transported to the home site. Once they arrive at their destinations, they are indistinguishable from site-built homes. They are not usually moved again. This allows the entire process, start to finish, to be overseen with consistency and accuracy, which cuts down on many of the delays and disruptions in traditionally built homes. They are built according to federal construction codes from Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Modular homes are also built in factories, but are governed by local state building codes (although sometimes states will adopt the federal code). Modular homes are either built on a permanent chassis or on a temporary one. Homes built on a permanent chassis are referred to as being “on-frame” and those built on temporary ones are referred to as “off-frame.” Whether a home is built on- or off-frame will affect how the home is assembled at its destination site.

Mobile homes are any manufactured home built prior to June 15, 1976. They are now obsolete due to HUD policy changes  in 1976. They have since been replaced by modern manufactured homes.

What do modular homes look like?

Modular homes look like any other home. Today’s building technology has allowed modular manufacturers to build most any style of home from a simple ranch to a highly customized contemporary. Chances are you’ve been in many modular structures and probably never realized it.

Sterling Homes builds high-end modular homes in some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the Boston suburbs. To see samples, visit our portfolio of custom modular homes.

What are the benefits of a modular homes?

Modular homes offer many benefits, including:

Modular homes are designed and built in a climate controlled environment that protects the entire structure during the build. This means harmful weather never touches the inside of the home.

Modular homes look just like traditional custom built homes. To design the custom style you want, there are hundreds of modular home plans to choose from -- you don’t have to settle for a cookie cutter house. Many personalized features are also available that will help customize the home to your own personal tastes.


Because modular homes are pre-built in factories and assembled on-site, this saves time in the construction process. Construction on the modular building can begin in the factory while the site preparation work is being done (leveling of ground, laying foundation etc.).

Because modular homes are constructed faster than 100% site-built homes and in a controlled environment, costs savings are natural. With many modular floor plans and custom options to choose from, we will make it easy to find something that fits your budget.

If you are looking for energy efficient home design, a modular home is a good choice. In a typical site-built home there are thousands of pounds of waste that end up in a landfill. Building custom modular homes in a factory setting greatly reduces waste because materials and resources are recycled and reused. Materials are not used on only one project, additional lumber and supplies can be saved and reused in the next modular home.

The modular home itself is also more energy efficient. The attention to detail and strength reduces gaps and drafts that can occur; drywall panels are nailed and glued during the build. The increase in quality construction of a modular home transfers into heating and cooling savings for the homeowner. Often times “green” modular homes can require a smaller furnace or air-conditioning unit than a comparable site built home.

While the phrase “healthy house” is often used, it should really be “healthy occupants”. Our partners at Preferred Building Systems (PBS) carefully select materials with a consideration of their VOC’s (volatile organic compounds). VOC’s are “new car smells” – potentially harmful chemicals that leach out of materials. Most of their adhesives are Green Guard Approved for Children and Schools, and all of their paints are zero or low VOC rated. Products are selected that do not contain urea-formaldehyde.

PBS also provides Heat Recovery Ventilation systems to minimize the moisture in homes that can cause harmful mold and mildew. These systems exhaust odors and moisture laden air and return fresh air from outside.

Approximately 70% of the heat is recovered from the outgoing air so the homeowner has the advantage of fresh, clean air without the heat loss that occurs from standard exhaust only systems.

The National Home Builders Association and the Modular Building Systems Council has created an informative brochure that can help answer any questions you may have. Download Now

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