One of the biggest advantages of buying a manufactured home is its short building and delivery process. Manufacturers can build a prefabricated home in two to seven days in their factories. New homeowners can start living in their newly delivered home just four months after they place an order with their builder.
”There are many factors that contribute to the timeline from when a customer signs a purchase agreement until the time a manufactured home is move-in ready – permitting, financing and site-prep to name a few,” says Mark Bowersox, EVP, Industry Relations at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).
Delivery time can also vary based on the level of complexity and customization of the home, the home manufacturer’s backlog of home orders, and weather conditions at the building site. Typically, it takes about four months from home order to home move in. “But the actual construction time to build a manufactured home in the factory is just a few days,” Bowersox says.
“Efficiency of construction is a big advantage of the factory building process,” Bowersox continues. “In manufactured housing plants, the home moves down a planned path while specialized tradesmen complete each step. There are no delays in searching for suitable subcontractors or tradesman prioritizing other jobs.
“Craftsmen, tools and materials are staged in the appropriate location to maximize efficiency,” adds Bowersox. “There are no scattered tools and random piles of materials that often slow down site-built construction. Unlike traditional on-site construction methods, building materials are stored indoors until they are used. This eliminates waste caused by sun fading, mold, rot and material theft. It also allows a manufactured home builder to inventory supplies and materials so if materials or appliances are damaged, there are replacements right on site.”
In addition, Bowersox says, “all manufactured homes are built to a federal building code, which eliminates variations in design and construction required when building to state and local building codes. Eliminating these variations and adjustments saves time and money on each home built.”
Construction Timelines for Manufactured Homes
Step One: Selections
Time: As long as you need
Your first step is to find a homesite where you want to build your home. Be sure to check zoning and government restrictions regarding manufactured homes before you buy any land. Have a property survey and a soil analysis conducted.
Next, you need to select a manufacturer. The manufacturer can assist you with lot selection and site prep, and likely will inspect the site to make sure it is a safe place to build your home. You then need to select the model and floorplan that you want to live in. Discuss any upgrades and customization you want to include with your builder.
Obviously, you will also need to arrange financing. Manufactured homes likely qualify for financing terms similar to traditional site-built homes.
Step Two: The Manufacturing Process
Time: Two days to five weeks
First, the base frame, floor or deck of the manufactured home gets constructed on a horizontal bed using steel beams and joists. Typically, floor joists are 16 feet long and I beams are located at 2 feet and 14 feet rather than at the perimeter of the unit.
Then, HVAC duct work and electrical and plumbing lines are installed through the joists and batt or spray insulation is placed between the members. Subflooring and laminate, tile or hardwood finished flooring is installed and the furnace and water heater are set in place.
Exterior and interior walls are assembled in separate areas. Exterior walls are constructed on a flat surface using 2×4 or 2×6 wood studs placed 16 inches on center with conventional top and bottom plates, window and door headers, and exterior sheathing. The walls are then lifted by crane, nailed to the floor joists and secured with metal hurricane straps. Insulation and interior drywall is added. Non-load bearing interior walls, assembled in another area, often use 2×3 studs placed on 24-inch centers.
The roof is assembled with trusses 24 inches on center and exterior sheathing. Interior ceiling drywall is attached and painted. Moisture barriers are added and insulation is blown into the cavity.
Housewrap and siding is placed on exterior walls, tile or asphalt roofing is added, and windows and doors are installed. Finally, appliances, plumbing fixtures, electrical connections, TV/phone jacks and lighting fixture are mounted. Carpeting is installed and interior molding is completed.
Step Three: Site Preparation
Time: A few days to a few months
While your manufactured home is being constructed in the factory, you or your manufacturer will need to obtain building permits and have the building site and foundation inspected. The site needs to be cleared and leveled, drainage has to be accounted for, a foundation system needs to be installed, and utilities have to be brought to the site.
Step Four: Home Delivery and Installation
Time: Three weeks to four weeks
Once completed, the home will be transported by truck to the home site and secured to the foundation. On double-wide (or larger) homes, the sections are joined together at the site. Utilities are then connected to city services and interior finishing is completed, including drywall tape and paint touch up, flooring and carpet connections. Finally, a customer walk through is conducted, “punch list” items are determined and are corrected, and a final city or county inspection is completed.
Delivery and setting of the home on its foundation is done in a day or two. Connection to city services and a final inspection takes about three weeks, and you can start living in your brand new home!
Roy Diez is a freelance writer and marketing professional specializing in the architectural, building and construction industry. He is a former editor-in-chief of Professional Builder magazine.