The Challenges of Delivering & Installing Modular Homes

Posted on: 9 July 2015

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After spending countless hours looking through all the floor plans of prefabricated homes, it's exciting to finally decide on a modular system. But before you go to place your order with the builder, do you already have a lot? Some people falsely believe that most of the construction of their modular home can take place before they even have a lot to put it on.

However, modular home builders need to make sure that the modules can be delivered to the lot by semi-trucks and installed by crane services. If not, the builder may need to prefabricate smaller modules that will meet the delivery and installation requirements. Here's some additional reading on what they need to look for in the building lot and the delivery route.

Building lot & staging area

Most building lots are suitable for constructing modular homes. However, there are some exceptions. Modular home construction involves several carriers that carry the modules and a crane to lift the modules and set them in place. The carriers are typically semi-trucks with flatbed trailers. There needs to be enough space to accommodate a crane and at least one carrier at a time.

In order for the crane to operate safely and avoid tipping over, there needs to be a flat area beside the building site. Therefore, a long, sloping hill is not an ideal location to build a modular home, unless you cut into the land and create a flat area. Also, the carriers, cranes and other equipment cannot be parked near septic tanks.

The lot needs to be accessible from the roadway for the heavy equipment and carriers. The builder can take care of the ground by placing crane mats and gravel to create a drivable surface. However, the overhead also needs to be clear. Utility poles, tree branches, and neighboring mailboxes can interfere with delivery and installation.

The modules are placed one at a time and in a certain order. Since the modules are transported by carriers, the carriers will need somewhere to sit while waiting for their turn. Many lots do not have enough room to accommodate more than a few carriers at a time, especially when the crane is in full operation. The builder will need to locate a suitable area to stage the carriers while they wait their turn for the modules to be used. A nearby parking lot or cornfield can be used as a staging area.

Delivery route accessibility

The delivery route also needs to be assessed. Obstructions such as bridges, underpasses, and utility poles and lines can make delivery challenging or impossible. Roadway conditions, such as city streets, narrow roads, and tight turns and curves may eliminate delivery some otherwise-ideal delivery routes. The builder may need to go far out of the way when delivering your modular home and transporting the crane to avoid potentially disastrous situations.

The builder will also need to plan a back-up route, just in case something causes the primary route to be inaccessible on the delivery date. For example, a severe rainfall can wash out a bridge on the delivery route, and the route of the posted detour may not be accessible for crane delivery due to narrow roadways.

Since an entire home cannot be easily transported, modular homes are built in small modules, or portions. The finished portions are then moved to the building site and pieced together to build a house. However, even with the prefabricated portions of the home, there could be delivery challenges.

The modules need to be transported, as well as cranes and other heavy equipment. For this reason, a modular home builder will need to see the location of the construction site, and determine a suitable route to it from the prefabrication facility before prefabrication can begin.