Modular Home Tip - Save Money by doing some work yourself
Which work would you be willing to do yourself or contract out to save money?
Like I said earlier, generally with a modular home, the builder/dealer will let you do as
much or as little of the work on the house yourself. You can get a complete turnkey
home, or at the other end of the spectrum you can act as your own general contractor,
or anything in between.
With a true complete turnkey home the builder completes everything necessary for you
to drive up to the home and start moving in. In the scenario where you act as your own
general contractor, the modular builder has the home delivered to your lot, sets it on the
foundation and leaves.
You are responsible for all of the finishing work, either by hiring subcontractors or
completing it yourself.
Many people that build modular homes have some skill or contact that they can use to
save some money on the house and often times the builder is glad to take the money
off of the price to let the buyer complete those jobs.
If you find the perfect home, but it looks like you will have trouble fitting it into your
budget, it is very useful to have some skills or contacts that can helpyou do some of
the work to bring the price down to what you can afford.
So for example, say you’ve found the perfect house plan, you like the builder and you’ve
picked out all the cabinets, molding, siding, etc. and you have a turnkey price for the
whole project from the builder that includes EVERYTHING for $250,000. The problem
is you have a budget of $225,000 based on what you have for a down payment plus the
financing you qualify for.
In this situation there are a few ways to reduce your costs to get the house within your
First, you want to tell your builder the situation and see what they can do to reduce the
price. (He may actually knock a couple thousand dollars off the price, but even the most
desperate of builders will not go down $25,000).
Next you should ask the builder to break down the costs of the finishing work that is
involved in the project to see if there is anything you could take care of yourself to save
some money. Here are some places I have found that a buyer can save some money:
Most modular homes come standard with white primer and there is a cost associated
with the paint colors you select for each of the rooms. By offering to paint the interior of
the house yourself you can save on the labor and maybe even shop around and find a
good price on paint.
This is a great place to save money, especially with hardwood floors. The hardwood
floors you can get now at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s are easy enough to install
that you may be able to do it yourself with the help of family or friends. Even if you
would prefer not to do it you can generally find a good subcontractor to do it for you
and save some money.
For example, if the builder tells you that the hardwood floor will cost you $9 per square
foot installed, you can probably shop around and find someone that can thousands of
dollars if the plan calls for hardwood floors throughout the house.
Clearing and Grading-
This one won’t apply to everyone, but if you have land that needs clearing and this was
included in the turnkey price of the house you want to consider arranging for the lot to be
Many builders won’t even quote a turnkey price that includes clearing the land because
the price can vary depending on who is hired to do it. In fact, the price can vary from
week to week from the same company depending on how busy they are at the time.
If the builder included this in the price of the house you can find out how much was
budgeted for it and offer to shop around and do the clearing yourself. Most likely the
builder will be glad to let you take care of this since it is one less thing he has to worry
If you have your heart set on a certain floor plan that includes an upstairs and you are way
off in price you may want to consider finishing the upstairs yourself.
Many modular plans come with an unfinished “Bonus room” upstairs that you can opt to
leave unfinished, but have the manufacturer prepare it with a future plumbing package so
it is not too difficult to finish off later when you have the funds.
Other places to save –
Some other examples of jobs completed or subcontracted out by the buyer to save money
include HVAC installation (this can be a big money saver if you know someone in the
business), molding and trim, decks, tile and others.
If you would rather not go to the trouble of dealing with subcontractors or doing the
physical labor yourself, you can also make up the difference in price by changing some of
the more expensive options you chose for the house.
The best advice I can give about this is to consider which options you consider the most
important in a house, but also consider your particular situation.
What I mean by this is that you should try to think ahead a few years and consider how
long you plan to stay in the house. Many people who build a custom modular home build
it on land that has been handed down for several generations and they plan to stay there
for many years in their dream home.
If this is the case, when you think which options to change or eliminate to save money you
will probably want to eliminate options that are easy to add later once you get the money.
For example, if you need to save $2000 and you can either do it by putting in less
expensive appliances now and upgrading to the beautiful stainless steel refrigerator and
stove you liked later or leaving off the deck in the backyard, you’d probably want to go
ahead and get the appliances you really wanted and waiting a little while to add the deck
once you had the money.
Some things that you should try to avoid leaving off or skimping on to save money are
items that result in savings on your energy bill. For example, it is not required that all
houses come with floor insulation.
Although you may be able to save a thousand dollars or more by omitting this
you will pay higher utility bills for the life of the house, or until you install insulation.
In addition there are new programs springing up all over the country in which the local
electric company offers rebates to the builder or consumer for investing in energy saving
items such as certain energy-efficient water heaters and insulations.