Manufactured homes offer two things buyers find very appealing — the ability to customize and a cost-per-square-foot that is much lower than other new construction.

Ordering a prefab home may seem leading edge, but manufactured homes already make up 10% of new construction in the U.S. Buyers place orders at local retailers where they can tour model houses (often from several manufacturers), look at floor plans and pick out cabinets, trim, flooring and other options. And, if a homeowner wants to remove a wall from the floor plan, have 9-foot ceilings, or turn their bath into a spa — they can.

“Consumers want homes truly customized to their lifestyle and taste and builders have responded with new flexibility in design,” says Joan Brown of the Northwest Housing Association.

More house for the money

Along with custom features, house buyers also want value. Factory construction means homebuilders don’t have to wait on weather delays, overbooked subcontractors and lost materials. Streamlined manufacturing delivers significant savings, reducing the cost of constructing manufactured homes to $50 to $75 per square foot or half the cost of site-built homes. This is without land and site prep costs, which vary by location.

“Money that might be lost to delays and waste can go to home upgrades or stay in the buyer’s pocket,” Brown adds, noting that factory construction also offers reliable project management, inspections and timely delivery.

Adding long-term value

Brown suggests that homebuyers add custom features that increase their home’s value in the long run. After all, for most people, their home is their largest investment. “Adding a garage or upgrading your energy package will make your home more enjoyable, add resale value and save money over time,” Brown says.

Comparison shopping helps buyers make smart choices. Different manufacturers and sales centers offer different home features and services. Buyers should plan on visiting several manufactured home retailers and asking about standard and custom features before making a decision.

The Northwest Housing Association is the official representative of the systems-built housing industry in the state of Washington. Members include manufactured and modular homebuilders, retail centers, brokers, developers, financial institutions and suppliers of goods and services.