Thanks to housing problems, new construction ideas have emerged to produce mass housing. One of these was the construction of modular houses, which are prefabricated units that are subsequently shipped to the required site. How much do modular homes cost? This will depend on many factors, including assembly, shipping, design, etc.

Modular homes prices tend to vary between construction companies because each piece can include all the necessary equipment to operate without us as a user having to furnish it. Also, not all work with the same parameters to calculate the budget.

We can find the case that the manufacturer tells us that each square foot of a modular house costs $35, but not all the necessary steps to make it habitable are taken into account.

If you wish to purchase a modular house, be prepared to make a long list of questions about the construction process.

How much do modular homes cost? Let’s dive in

The average cost of modular homes

James-Hardie-by-James-Hardie-Building-Products How much do modular homes cost? Know the price now
Image source: James Hardie Building Products

Due to the nature of the modular houses, they generally have a final price 15% lower than that of traditional houses built on-site. However, the price may increase gradually depending on the number of changes we make to the modules, as well as the contractor we selected.

How much do modular homes cost? To answer this question, consider two important factors in the construction process:

  • The production costs of the manufacturer and the final price it will have in the distributor.
  • The workforce you will need to assemble each of the modules at the construction site.

Just with the existence of these two factors, it is impossible to indicate the exact cost of prefab homes. The only way to get “an estimate” is by visiting the store to get an estimate.

Modular-by-Roots-Design-Studio How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Roots Design Studio

However, based on previous experiences, we can ensure that the final price of a modular house will exceed $100,000 even in the most basic models. The approximate prices are between $90 and $150 per square foot of modular house (this including its assembly and additional work), so you could even find finished houses at $300,000.

Just between shipping and assembly, you can spend between $52,000 and $167,000 depending on the size of the modules and the shipping distance.

Finally, we have the largest and most exotic houses built from modules, which can be between $500,000 and one million dollars. Of course, these have a high level of customization and the best finishes and materials, all required by the customer, so it is as if it was built from scratch.

Additional costs are a large percentage.

As we previously mentioned, not only acquiring the different modules of the house has a price. There are several additional expenses that we must make before our house is habitable. Some can be avoided (like the garage if we don’t need it), but others are necessary and cannot be missing (electrical installations, plumbing, etc.).


Fremantle-Exterior-by-Design-Living-Studio How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Design Living Studio

The quality of the land where the house will settle can also influence the cost of assembly, being lower in areas suitable for construction.

Since not all lands require the same foundations, these prices may vary depending on the job. These are some of the most common costs when it comes to foundations (they will vary according to the size of the house):

  • Concrete foundation slab (completely constructed of concrete, without filling blocks): $4,500 to $12,000.
  • Traditional foundation: $8,500
  • Basement foundation: $18,000 to $30,000
  • Crawlspace: $8,000 to $21,000

Installation and labor costs

The process is known by contractors as “Buttoning-up” is nothing more than the assembly of each of the pieces of the modular house to make it a functional home. This may present difficulties depending on the number of sections we acquire or the land, so the price of the contractor could be between $25,000 and $50,000.

Permissions to build and inhabit

Greenwood-Craftsman-Model-Exterior-Beracah-Homes-Modular-Home-by-Beracah-Homes How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Beracah Homes

Like any architectural or civil engineering work, modular homes also require permits for their construction and habitability. Modular homes prices do not vary much for these documents, but if we do not want to have problems, we must keep them up to date.

Permits are a complicated issue in the legal field since these are different depending on the region where we are. Before doing any real estate construction work, it is best to check the legal requirements in your city hall.

As an example, we put the list of permits you need to have in Bethel for the construction of a house:

  • Building permit: $1,699
  • Mechanical permits: $273
  • Certificate of Occupancy (housing occupancy): $20
  • Pre-project review fee: $20

Septic tank or sewer system?

Sea-Bright-NJ-Spectacular-2-Story-by-RBA-Homes How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: RBA Homes

This dilemma will depend on whether your home is within the boundaries of your city’s wastewater system. If you can connect the pipes to the sewer system, then the price of the connection will depend on the city.

If this is not an option, then it is necessary to build a sump and a septic tank that accumulates waste. In general, the construction of these systems is between $5,000 and $8,000.

How much do modular homes cost when building a basement?

Greenwood-Craftsman-Model-Exterior-Beracah-Homes-Modular-Home-by-Beracah-Homes1 How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Beracah Homes

A semi-basement (which is not completely covered with dirt) with a ventilation window, 8-foot walls covered with the necessary insulation, and their corresponding stairs, can cost between $23,000 and $29,000 (without foundation costs).

Due to the construction work it requires, a basement is a more expensive room than the rest of the modules. Of course, if our home is approximately 1,600 square feet, manufacturing a basement is likely a relatively small investment that will leave us with a huge storage room.

HVAC – To withstand all types of weather

August-2019-Modular-Home-of-the-Month-by-Modular-Home-Builders-Association How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Modular Home Builders Association

A good HVAC system includes heating, gas pipes, air conditioners, and ventilation ducts. Taking as reference the measure of the previous house (1,600 square feet), the price of these facilities could vary between $8,000 and $11,000.

As there are many options for air conditioners and heating systems on the market, it is best to keep the price of this installation separately from the budget of your modular home.

Factors that can alter manufactured homes prices

Geographic location

Gallery-by-Millbrook-Modular-Homes How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Millbrook Modular Homes

No matter if it is a modular house, the land is still an influential factor when calculating a budget. The more expensive sectors, such as Saratoga Bay in California, will significantly increase manufacturing costs. It occurs in the same way with the most economical suburbs, where costs are more accessible.

The ease with which the foundations of the house are installed is another important factor. Digging on dirt is not the same as having to drill rock.

Note that, besides, each of the pieces must be shipped to the construction site, which has a cost depending on the distance of the shipment.

Stock or Custom Design?

Custom-designed-Freshwater-House-by-Prebuilt How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Prebuilt

How much do modular homes cost? If it is a mass-produced stock design, the value is drastically reduced.

However, most customers add custom details that exponentially increase costs. In this way, a house with custom materials, ornamental details, and other unique finishes can cost between $200,000 and $400,000.

The simpler the structure, the cheaper the construction will be. A ranch-type house, even occupying more square meters, can be cheaper than a home with two or more floors due to structural requirements.

The relationship of size with cost

Fawkner-Park-by-Marylou-Sobel-Interior-Design How much do modular homes cost? Know the price nowImage source: Marylou Sobel Interior Design

Remember to always have on hand the average value per square foot that your modular house will cost to calculate an approximate budget.

For example, if you want to build 2,000 square feet at $150 per square foot, you will end up with a base value of $300,000. This figure must be multiplied by the “location” factor depending on what the market dictates.

Reduce future costs with an efficient home

A benefit that almost all modular homes include is that they are already built with high energy efficiency, which translates into better conservation of heat or cold to reduce our energy consumption in air conditioners or heating systems.

In any case, as with traditional houses, installing more efficient elements will increase manufacturing costs, so you should keep this in mind when planning.

If you enjoyed reading this article about how much do modular homes cost, you should read these as well:

Categorized in: