Modular Home Seminar Comes to Brick
On Saturday, April 6, I attended a modular home seminar at Brick Elks Lodge. The seminar was organized for homeowners to learn about modular home building and how it compares and contrasts to traditional home building.
Modular Homes Factory Direct organized the seminar. They are a modular home builder with a warehouse in The Poconos in Pennsylvania, and they service Boston to North Carolina. Since the storm, they have had a strong presence throughout New Jersey. They are putting on a series of seminars for affected homeowners to learn more about modular homes. As I was there for the entire two hour seminar on Saturday, I can attest that is was not a sales pitch at all. It was an educational presentation and was very well executed.
I am fortunate that I am not in the market for solutions to rebuild my home right now. I attended to learn about modular homebuilding, the options available to homeowners, and most importantly, to hear firsthand what the most pressing issues facing homeowners are right now. I walked away with a pretty strong understanding of the modular home process – costs, time frame, and all of the pieces involved.
Although they are not based in NJ, Modular Homes Factory Direct have formed a small team of local contractors to assist them with their objective of getting people into their new modular homes as soon as possible. These contractors were at the seminar and each had the floor for about 15 minutes to discuss their recent experiences with modular homes and with their specific roles in the process.
The first contractor to speak was Lou Santora of Equipment Leasing Specialists in Toms River. Lou has been in construction for 25 years and currently owns Equipment Leasing Specialists, which specializes in demolition and excavation. Lou walked the audience through a 10-step process for getting a home demolished. Most people, including myself, were feverishly taking notes. Again, I do not need my home demoed right now, but if I ever do, I know exactly what steps I have to take to do so, including calling and obtaining notification letters from all of my utilities, sending certified notification letters to my neighbors, retaining a licensed plumber to cut and cap my sewer lines, and even what to expect in terms of cost and time frame. These are topics about which most of the public are unaware, so Lou’s talk was extremely helpful. Lou is nice enough to have agreed to write an article for Rebuild New Jersey outlining the demolition process from a homeowner’s perspective. We will be publishing that later this month.
The next contractor to speak was Kevin Shelly, who is an engineer with MidAtlantic Engineering Partners in Bordentown. Although their main office is in Bordentown, they have been working non-stop in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. MidAtlantic’s expertise is in surveying and providing engineering studies and reports of properties to get them ready to receive a new home, whether that be a modular home or a traditional home. They have been doing a lot of work with houses that are in the V-Zone that need to now sit on piles. They also do work with properties the A-Zone that do not need to sit on piles. As Lou did, Kevin walked the audience through the process of hiring an engineering company, obtaining the proper permits, notifying your town, procuring piles and pile driving contractors, and setting their homes on the piles. Homeowners can either choose to do all of this on their own, including hiring each individual contractor and filing for and following up with permits, or they can choose to hire a firm such as MidAtlantic to take care of everything for them, akin to a general contractor.
The third and final contractor to speak was Tom. Unfortunately I did not get his last name or his company name, but I’ll find it and update this article when I do. Tom grew up as a general contractor building traditional, or stick-built, homes (stick-built is the euphemism used for describing homes built the traditional way, from the bottom up, with 2×4’s). However, over the past few years, as the quality and availability of modular homes have both skyrocketed, Tom has transformed his business into a finishing contractor for modular homes. If you don’t know, modular homes are built in a factory and delivered to a property, where they are set and assembled in about 8 hours. At that point, the job of the modular home company is complete, and the home is 80% complete. Now it’s time for contractors to come in and put the finishing touches on the home, including carpet and flooring, heating and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical fixtures, appliances, siding, and landscaping. As with building a home the traditional way, a homeowner can either opt to hire and manage all of the relevant contractors himself or herself, or the homeowner can hire a general contractor to manage the project. Tom is the general contractor that a homeowner would hire. If I were in that situation, I would definitely hire a GC to finish my home. Sure, it’s a few extra dollars, but it saves a ton of time and headaches.
There were about 40 homeowners in attendance, all of whom took notes, and all of whom walked away with a lot more knowledge than when they came. The information presented by all of the contractors was fantastic. Just as valuable were the dozens of homeowner questions. Many people are facing the same issues, so when one homeowner asked a question, at least a few other people were eagerly awaiting the answer. I left immediately after the seminar, but about half of the homeowners stuck around to ask more questions and try to figure out where to start their process.
Many homeowners would be skeptical about attending such a seminar that is hosted by a small group of contractors, thinking that it would be nothing more than a 2-hour sales pitch. However, this wasn’t the case at all. It was purely educational and its goal was to help as many homeowners as possible find answers to their pressing questions. If you’re a homeowner, don’t be skeptical. We are all searching for answers. The people who have them right now are not necessarily the municipalities and government organizations, but the contractors who are on the ground and out in the field every single day witnessing and working through this process. The community spirit is strong and most people are just looking to help.