The short answer is yes. It is possible to move modular or stick built homes from one location
to another, but in most cases it is not cost effective when compared to building a new home.
The feasibility of moving a modular home depends on many things, such as the distance the
home will be moved, the size and complexity of the design of the home (the number of modules
that need to be moved) and whether the new home will be located in an area with a similar
building code to the original site of the house.
So while it is possible, the answer as to whether it is generally a good idea to move a modular
home (or any home that is on a foundation) is no. But sometimes it is necessary to move a
modular home and since I have seen it first hand, I will share my experience so you can see
some of the things involved.
A few years ago, I was working for a modular home builder, doing mostly marketing and sales.
They had built a very nice modular home as their model and sales center and placed it on a
commercial lot. This house was 3 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, about 2500 square feet, with an
unfinished upstairs that had the potential to add another 1500 square feet and at least 2
Eventually, a time came when the builders wanted to move the business to another location.
So they made the decision to sell the current model. My job was to get people interested in the
house so they could at least get back most of money they spent to build it. The buyer would
be responsible for paying to have the house taken apart and loaded on trucks and moved to its
My first thought was to list it on ebay. We advertised the house other places but ebay is far
and away where most of the interest on this house came from. The modular home was located
on the east coast, but questions came from all over the U.S.
For most of the people asking questions, buying the house and relocating it to their land was
not a good option. And here are some of the reasons:
First, keep in mind that one of the major selling points of a modular home is the fact that unlike
a mobile home, a modular home is built to be placed on a permanent foundation and conforms
to all of the state and local building codes in that location.
If you have been researching modular homes I’m sure this is something that you have read
before. It is usually on everyone’s “top 10 reasons you should buy a modular home” list. It is a
major selling point in favor of modular homes over mobile homes but it is not always fully
The reason this is considered a plus for modular homes is that different states and
municipalities have different building codes. The fact that modular homes are placed on a
permanent foundation and subject to all of the local ordinances means that they are just like
traditional stick built homes.
So while this is validation that a modular home can be every bit as strong, and energy efficient
as any other home, it also means that there are going to be additional costs that would be
incurred if you were to move the house to another location.
In this case, we were getting inquiries from places like Arizona, New Mexico and Minnesota, all
of which are 1,000-2,000 miles away (or more). Even though the home was being offered at
an incredible price (I believe it was less than $50 per square foot), the costs involved in moving
it that distance were prohibitive.
So let’s look at the major costs that would be incurred to see why moving a modular home
1000 miles is probably a bad idea:
First, you would need to rent a crane and tear down crew to take the modular home apart and
load it onto the truck or trucks. This cost varies, but would definitely be a few thousand
Next, the transporting of the modules to the new location is based on the number of miles they
would have to be driven. This would most likely come to tens of thousands of dollars more.
The price of transporting a modular home varies depending on fuel prices at that particular time
but even if you estimate $15 per mile you can see how some of these scenarios where the
home would have to be transported over 1,000 miles would quickly lead you to reconsider.
Then once it arrives at the new location, you will need a rent a crane and set the modular
home on its new foundation. (Which is another pretty big expense. Before moving the home to
your location, you must already have a foundation in place to set it on.) The foundation is
something that you would need whether you were moving a modular home or bringing in a
brand new one so it does not add to the cost, but since you can’t move the foundation it must
Then once the modular home is placed on the foundation it must be prepared for inspection.
This is where the building codes come into play. Before the home could be occupied, it must
conform to the building codes of the location it now occupies. Many of the differences in
building codes from place to place are based on the climate and potential for destructive
weather. Because there are many different climate conditions throughout the U.S., resulting in
differences in building codes.
Since building codes to change from time to time, for a moment let’s forget about the
regulations and just think logically. A home that was built to be placed on a lot in Savannah,
Georgia was moved to Syracuse, New York or vice versa, you would probably want to make
some alterations to ensure its safety.
A house in Syracuse would need to have a strong roof to stand up to the harsh winter and
large snowfalls that would put extra weight on it, whereas a house in Savannah would need to
be able to withstand possible flooding or hurricane force winds.
This might be an extreme example but the point is that it would also involve hiring contractors
to make any adjustments to the modular home in order for it to be deemed safe in its new
So for these reasons and some others, it is generally not a cost effective plan to move a
modular home from one location to another, and it is especially cost prohibitive to move it
hundreds or thousands of miles.
In the instance that I had firsthand knowledge of I believe it worked out ok, but not great. The
builders lost a little bit of money on the house, but were able to move on to a new location.
The buyers ended up being between a little over 100 miles away and got a nice house that
was made move in ready fairly quickly, for a cheap price.
But after all of the added costs, they probably didn’t save very much over just building a new
modular home and had the added responsibility of hiring the contractors for the set up and
moving of the house. If given a chance to do it all over, I’m not sure they would make the same
I think that maybe some of the reason the house received so much interest is the fact that there
were still (and are still) many people that do not understand completely what is involved in the
construction and set up of a modular home, compared to a mobile home.
And like I said earlier, the things that make a modular home difficult to move from location to
location is partly what makes a modular home a great option for building your dream house. It
is a real house, placed on a foundation and meant to stay there for generations.
Anyway, that is my story. Hopefully you learned some insight into what all is involved in
building (or moving) a modular home.
Written for modularresource.com __ J.T.P.
Can you move a Modular Home?