One of the most delicate stages of modular home construction is the transportation of the modules from the offsite manufacturing location to the plot. The success of the modular method remains on the strict coordination of the overall process and an structured shipment is key for a successful modular home delivery.
A standard modular home shipment follows the next structure:
- Build the modules to be shipped
- Protecting the module
- Loading and Traveling
- Unloading and Assembly
- On-site finishes
The logistics behind the module shipping are complex and can’t be overlooked. A methodic procedure is a good start, but every situation has different needs and adapting the process to fulfill them is key to ensuring a smooth modular home completion. These adjustments require a thorough analysis of the shipping route, contemplating the distances traveled, and the possible usage of alternative vehicles to surpass possible obstacles present on the way.
Every modification in the original travel method can represent a huge price increase. Therefore, to comply with the desired budget, it is essential to understand the process and logistics of the shipment and contemplate any possible disruption in the budget.
Access to building plot – what to think about
Every modular home is built following the same methodic structure, failing to attain any of the following steps will have consequences on the construction timeline, quality and cost of the overall modular home.
- Build the modules to be shipped: Every modular home is designed with the transportation needs already in mind. The construction of the modules usually exceeds the structural requirements of the modular home to resists the tremors resulting from the travel when being shipped.
- Protecting the module: Once the manufacturing of the module is completed, this one has to be prepared to ensure safe shipping. During transportation the modules are exposed to several threats that could deteriorate them. Therefore, most modular home companies will carefully wrap the module to protect it from any external risk.
- Loading and Traveling: The modules are carefully loaded on a flatbed truck and in most cases won’t be unloaded until reaching to the building site. There are some exceptions to this process though, the presence of any difficulties on the road that can’t be overcome by the truck will require using alternative vehicles.
- Unloading and Assembly: Once the truck reaches the building site with the modules, these are unloaded and the protections wrapping the modules removed so they can be assembled. The assembly is done with a crane that will lift every module and place it on its defined location on the foundations.
- On-site finishes: Once the modules are on place and the overall modular home is completely assembled, some finishing works are still required. These are usually handled by the same manufacturing company who when delivering the modules sends a crew to assemble them on the foundations and to finish all the necessary on-site details .
Modular home transportation logistics
The transportation of the modules from the manufacturing plant to the building site is a complex procedure that needs to be carefully planned. In order to ensure the success of the delivery, there are some transportation logistics that should be considered and evaluated even before the manufacturing starts.
Designing a module for shipment
Every module is conceived with shipment in mind, designing both the structure and shape according to fulfill the travel requirements. The proportions and size of every module are defined by shipping, being approximately 12 to 15,9 feet wide, 60 to 72 feet long and 11 feet high .
Each one of the modules is loaded on its own truck and commonly the module delivery is done all in one go. All the trucks, carrying all the modules conforming the modular home, leave the manufacturing premises together and deliver the modules at the same time. Therefore, the number of trucks traveling together will equal the number of modules conforming the modular home.
Travel route planning
Given the vast dimensions of the modules, the shipping route must be carefully planned to ensure a successful delivery. Every road taken by the truck should be wide enough for the module to move through without having its sides scratched. Also very tight turns should be avoided to grant enough space for the oversized truck to drive through and maneuver if necessary .
Likewise, any obstacles blocking the road should be completely avoided. Low bridges, tunnels, power lines or trees  are the most common elements obstructing the truck’s path and should be carefully considered since they could represent the end of the shipment.
Travel distance limit
Most modular home companies limit their travel distance and only offer short distance’s services to a restricted area. Limiting the serving radius allows modular home companies to offer a complete service at an affordable cost. Still, some modular home companies offer long distance shipments and in these cases, the assembly works are often managed by a local contractor instead of the manufacturing company.
The modular home industry is becoming more and more accessible and adapting to the current needs, with which there is a growing number of modular home manufacturers catering to an international marketing. These companies have improved their shipping logistics and often ship modular homes overseas.
Alternative vehicles used to deliver the modules
Some situations require the usage of alternative vehicles since there are limits for trucks of a considerable size. Those locations that are highly inaccessible by road, benefit enormously from an offsite construction, though require a unique delivery approach. The vehicle of choice in extreme situations such as a mountain top, is usually a helicopter  .
Shipping overseas or even to a nearby island requires the usage of a boat. When the water distances are reduced, the module leaves the manufacturing company on a flatbed truck and it is the same truck that is now carrying the module that will be loaded on a barge. Once it reaches the desired land the truck will unload and drive to the building site where the module will be delivered .
How much does it cost to ship a modular home?
The cost of shipping a modular home from the off-site factory to the building site in a flatbed truck usually ranges from $3,000 to $12,000 . This price commonly includes loading the modules on the truck, transportation to the site, unloading, and assembling every module on the permanent foundation. While the on-site finishes are usually not included in the shipping budged, the crane required to lift and assemble the modules is.
The overall shipping cost will depend on the number of modules, their size, and the distance traveled from the manufacturing plant to the plot. Though this amount can easily increase as the difficulties rise. Unless previously stated, any extra vehicle needed is usually charged separately. While most extra vehicles don’t usually represent a dramatic price raise, some could. The lifting services of a helicopter for example, could highly modify the budget since their cost is about $77 per minute .
Most of the variations in the shipping budget are a result of long distances: shipping a modular home across the United States is estimated to escalate to an amount of $20,000; a value that would multiply enormously and can reach values such as $400,000 when shipped overseas . The shorter the distance traveled the more affordable the shipping cost will be.
The delivery cost of a modular home can significantly modify the overall cost of building a modular home. Therefore, to obtain a real estimation and avoid unpleasant surprises, it is critical to carefully analyze the necessary transportation logistics that could be required to deliver the modules from the manufacturing location to the desired plot.
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