The lot sets the base that will hold the modular home and should be properly prepared to ensure a successful assembly of the modules. The amount of work required to prepare the lot will vary from site to site depending on the specific requirements demanded by each house design, as well as the initial conditions of the plot of land. Still, usually the site works follow a very similar order of actions.
This is the step by step guide for lot preparation:
- Clearance and leveling
- Connect utilities to public lines
- Build the foundations
- Module delivery preparation
- Landscaping works
It is crucial to complete each one of these steps before the modules are delivered to the site. While the work structure looks quite similar for every building site, the tasks performed will vary enormously from one lot to another and so will the cost. Since as a new homeowner, having an idea of the cost is very useful, we have compiled some average prices as guidance.
Do modular homes come with land or should I buy land before buying a modular home?
In general, modular homes just as traditional on-site constructions, don’t come with land and it is up to the owner to acquire it before buying a modular home. However, most modular home manufacturers will guide you in the process of looking for a feasible land or even put you in touch to some recommended local realtors who are knowledgeable about modular home’s land requirements.
Buying a plot of land to build a modular home is quite similar to buying a lot to build a traditional construction. Though it is recommended to look for a lot offering:
- Low tree density.
- No existing buildings.
- Flat topography
- Access to public utilities (electricity, gas, sewage and water .
- Good quality soil that isn’t too soft nor too hard .
- Wide and obstacle free access roads.
A plot of land that fails to offer the characteristics mentioned above can still become a good building site for a modular home, though the required land preparation may involve more site works and a higher cost.
How to prepare the land to put a modular home
Lot preparation can feel overwhelming for some, there is a lot to consider and it should be done right so the modules can be delivered and assembled on site. Most modular home companies will only focus on the module manufacturing. You as a homeowner will need to take over and hire a contractor, a professional in charge of the site works, who will verify that the land is prepared to receive the modules and put the modular home together.
1. Clearance and leveling
The very first step to preparing the land is to clear the building site from any existing elements that are either in the building area or obstructing the space required for the construction machinery to access and maneuver.
This is a common first step for all kinds of construction, though in modular construction it tends to take a wider clearing area since the trucks and cranes delivering and assembling the modules are of considerable dimensions .
The clearing process includes removing any rocks or vegetation, as well as cutting trees and demolishing any existing construction unless included in the project. This phase also includes leveling the land. Since most modular home designs require a flat surface those lots with a steeper gradient will require some extra works such as excavating, land filling and flattening.
2. Connect utilities to public lines
Every house requires access to fresh water, gas, electricity and sewage systems. While most of the lots that are in urban areas are already supplied with public utilities, it is quite common to encounter lots that aren’t connected to the public utilities or that have no access to these.
In cases where the lot isn’t hooked up to the public lines, it is required to build the necessary connections to the municipal sewer and water lines. Though in case there is no access to the public lines, the works focus on installing private utilities, both septic systems and fresh water supplies by building a well or a deposit .
3. Build the foundations
The foundations are the base of the modular home and should be completely finished before the modules arrive since the modules will be attached directly to them. Building the foundation for a modular home requires accuracy since they need to be carefully leveled and aligned. The foundation works should be executed according to the floor plans drawn by the modular home manufacturer to ensure a successful module assembly and avoid delays and extra costs.
The works needed in this phase will vary depending on the foundation type. The most common one for modular homes is the slab foundation , which is basically a flat and thick base made of concrete; but there is a wide variety of options to choose from depending on the land characteristics, soil, environmental conditions or budget .
4. Module delivery preparation
Once the off-site construction of the modules is done, these are delivered to the building site by truck where they will be assembled with a crane. When the modules arrive, it often takes as short as 1 to 2 days to put the whole house together  . To avoid delays and extra costs, it is critical to prepare the lot for delivery day.
Assembling the modules requires a clean space to properly maneuver and obtain a neat result. Despite having cleared the area, the works carried after the clearing might have left some residues or debris that should be removed before the arrival of the modules.
In some cases delivery preparation involves building an access road or enlarging an existing one that is suitable for large loads and allows the truck carrying the big sized module to drive through and maneuver if necessary .
5. Landscaping works
The landscaping possibilities are extensive and will vary depending on our personal taste, land possibilities and budget. Despite our landscaping choice, there is some work to be done either by ourselves or a professional. The most common landscaping works usually include cleaning the construction leftovers, paving some areas, adding good quality soil and/ or planting vegetation .
How much does it cost to prepare the land for a modular home?
The cost to prepare the land to build a modular home will vary extensively from one situation to another depending on our choices, soil conditions, lot characteristics or size of the house. We have compiled some prices that give an idea of what should you expect to pay for the works previously defined:
- Clearance and leveling: Tearing down an existing building usually costs between $2 to $17 per square foot . Cutting trees is usually price per acre and the average price to cut and acre of trees is usually of $1,000 and up depending on how heavily wooded the area is . Leveling the land will highly vary on the requirement of the lot though we can expect to pay between $5 to $10 per square foot .
- Prepare utilities access: Those lots with the possibility to connect to the public water line will pay for the connection which can cost from a few hundreds to $5,000 . If we need to provide our own private systems we can expect to pay more or less from $1,500 to $12,000 to drill a well . Installing a private septic system can cost around $3,000 for a basic tank but can fluctuate to as much as $20,000 for a highly advanced sewer system .
- Build the foundations: In general,building the foundations of a modular home costs between $7 to $30 per square foot, though it highly depends on the type of foundation and the quality of the soil: pier and Beam foundations are usually the cheapest choices, rarely costing more than $11 per square foot, while choosing to build a basement tends to be the most expensive choice with an average cost of $33 to $47 per square foot .
- Module delivery preparation: Cleaning the worksite to prepare for delivery has a cost that usually ranges between $275 and $696 . In case building a an access road is required you will have to add this cost on which usually ranges from $2 to $15 per square foot .
- Landscaping: The landscaping prices will vary enormously depending on our personal choices, though the average price for landscaping the lot ranges from $4 to $40 per square foot depending on the services and works included .
The overall cost of the lot preparation for the average modular home fluctuates from $4,000 to $11,000 , though keep in mind that this is just a reference and it can highly vary depending on the works required, the size of the lot and the modular home design requirements.
This costs can be highly reduced if the owner itself takes over some of these works. However, hiring professionals is highly recommended since modular construction is fast and the land should be all prepared as soon as the manufacturing phase is done so the modules can be properly assembled on site.
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