Modular Homes

OSB vs. Plywood

OSB vs. Plywood

Posted By on Oct 14, 2013

Lately, a lot of people have been asking whether we use Plywood or OSB Sheathing.  Our answer is both, but this inquiry has caused me to be curious about the benefits of Plywood vs. OSB.

In this video, Matt Risinger discusses the differences between the two products.  He also explains how he uses the products in the homes he builds.  His application is not relevant in our use of modular technology for two reasons: 1) Modular homes have a much shorter window of opportunity for weather exposure before button-up and 2) Modular homes must be built on a crawlspace or foundation not slab on grade.  Even with these two distinct differences in our construction applications, the information Mr. Risinger discusses is valuable.

Link to Video: OSB vs Plywood Sheathing – or Both?

Further Research:

Product Pros and Cons: OSB v. Plywood by Builder Online

OSB vs. Plywood by Int’l Association of Certified Home Inspectors

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Buying vs. Building

Buying vs. Building

Posted By on Jun 27, 2013

How do you decide between purchasing your home or building your home?  It is up to each family to weigh the factors of each option and decide which will be the best for their situation.  This blog has been written to give you a clear understanding of some of the pros and cons of each options, as well as some tips to make either process move smoother.

Buying a Home


  1. Purchasing a home is quicker.  Typically once an offer is accepted by the seller a closing can be scheduled within 2 months.
  2. You can see and touch the home.  Walking through a home is much different than looking at plans.
  3. Landscaping is mature. The lawn is ready for the swing set. The shrubs along the front of the home or edge of the road are full.
  4. The bargain.  Buyers can usually find a great deal, especially in the current market.


  1. Sellers don’t always disclose the full reason they are moving, such as the 2 am train knocks the glasses of the shelves or the neighbors throw wild parties with fireworks every weekend.
  2. Older homes are not as efficient as newer homes.  They are not as well insulated and tend to be harder to heat.
  3. When you buy a 10 year old home, you are also buying 10 year old systems and fixtures.  Appliances, boilers, fixtures and some building materials have an expected lifetime.  Replacement costs can add up quickly and start much sooner than the homebuyer may anticipate.
  4. Many of the homes currently on the market are foreclosed properties.  These properties are not always properly maintained during and after the foreclosure process.  Homes do not withstand neglect well, especially in upper New England.  One winters worth of no maintenance, possibly no heat or electricity, is a lot of wear and tear.

Tips for a smoother buying process:

  1. Higher a reputable home inspector.  This person is worth their weight in gold, if they can inform you of issues before the closing.
  2. Ask your realtor lots of questions about the home you consider.  Age of appliances, systems & fixtures.  How long has the home been empty if it is a foreclosed property.
  3. Require that all systems be operating during the home inspection.

Building a Home


  1. It’s your home.  Your plan, your design choices.
  2. All systems, fixtures, materials & appliances are new.  They meet all current safety and energy standards, and should carry the full warranty.
  3. Lower energy and maintenance cost.  Even if you aren’t building a home specifically designed for high energy efficiency, new homes continue to become more and more efficient as new products and materials become available.
  4. The majority of new homes are being built in developments, this means you may be building with a community of new homes.  Many developments have strict guidelines about the types of homes allowed and what maintenance is expected.  This ensures the homes around you will be of similar value and well maintained helping to keep home values steady.


  1. Not being able to see and touch the home during the sales process can be difficult for some prospective homebuyers.
  2. Cost overruns.  Building material prices fluctuate, this can cause the cost of your home to rise during the building process.  There is also the risk that not all materials are accurately reflected during the sales process.  For instance, homebuyers may think they are getting a beautiful dining room light, but the builder put the cost of the dome fixture into the cost.
  3. Delays.  The building process spans over several months with multiple contractors involved.  Without a clear plan, delays are inevitable.

Tips for a smoother building process:

  1. Higher a reputable general contractor to oversee the entire building process.  Having one company responsible for all aspects of the construction from excavation to interior paint, will make the process smoother and eliminate stress on the homeowner.
  2. Ask questions during the sales process!  Visit construction sites, talk with previous customers.
  3. Always get written quotes, never agree to build anything based on an estimate.  Discuss with potential builders what their policy is on cost overruns and construction delays.  Without a clear policy, the cost and completion date of the project will never be met
  4. Read the building contract.  The contract should clearly define who is responsible for all aspects of the building process.

Hopefully this information will help you make the right decision for your family.  For more information check out these links:

Buying vs. Building by AskMen

The Financial Considerations of Building vs. Buying by Investopedia

Building a Home vs. Buying a Pre-Existing Home by

As a final thought, I will leave you with this:  Everyone has heard the old adage “Live and Learn” meaning as you live your life, you learn from your experiences… Now let’s briefly consider homeownership options.  Approximately twice as many first homebuyers buy their home as those that build.  However, with each change in homeownership this ratio decreases with more homeowners choosing to build their second or third homes… Retirees are now one of the largest demographic building their homes.  Food for thought.

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Review and Outlook

Review and Outlook

Posted By on May 31, 2013

I was cleaning out the Drafts folder in the Blog and realized this blog was never posted….

Last January I posted Housing Market Outlook for 2012.  How accurate was I on my assessment of the 2012 Housing Market?

  1. Mortgage rates are still a historic lows.
  2. Unemployment rate is at about 7.5%, which is slightly better than this time last year.
  3. The amount of Foreclosures in the past year, was the lowest amount since 2008
  4. New home builds held steady for us during 2012.
  5. We did see an increase in prospects especially towards the end of the year.

I think my 2012 Outlook was pretty accurate.  Now lets see how I do with the 2013 Outlook

Unemployment and foreclosure rates continue to drop.  They are still high, but the improvement is there.  The appraisal process is still a bit rough; however, as foreclosures are sold out of the market the comparables are getting better.  The election is behind us.

All of these points add up to a decent outlook for 2013.  Unlike in 2012, when I thought we would hold steady, in 2013 I believe we will see an increase in new home builds.  People want to take advantage of the low mortgage rates and are going to be financially comfortable making a commitment to a mortgage.

Here’s what the experts are forecasting for 2013:

A New Housing Boom by CNN Money

Housing Market in 2013: What to Expect by Fox Business

5 Things Consumers Should Expect From the Housing Market in 2013 by Forbes

Housing Outlood 2013: Home Prices Get a Lift by Kiplinger

In the long run, it doesn’t matter what I think, or what experts think, it matters what potential new home buyers think… What are your thoughts?

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Homes for the Millennial Generation

Homes for the Millennial Generation

Posted By on May 20, 2013

Researching for this blog has been a bit more difficult than researching for the previous generations.  The millennial generation were born 1980 to 2000.  This puts the oldest in the generation in their early 30’s and the youngest are just entering their teens.  Many of the older millennials are still either renting of living in their parents home due to the housing bust, high unemployment rates and high college debt.  This is quickly changing as the housing market levels off and employment opportunities increase.  As they do entering the housing market, more information about their expectations, wants and needs are emerging.

  1. While many millennials are do-it-youselfers, they want homes that are move in ready.
  2. While Generation X found smart home technology convenient, millennials find it a necessity.  Being able to connect with and control all aspects of their home from virtually anywhere, may seem over the top to most people, but to the latest homebuying generation it is common sense.
  3. Energy efficiency may not appear on their list of needs/wants, this isn’t because efficiency isn’t important, but rather, efficiency is the norm.  To this generation listing energy efficiency as important would be like listing indoor plumbing as important…
  4. Size does matter!  The millennial generation will NOT pay for a home with extra space they won’t use.  This generation isn’t going to buy a home their family will “grow” into.  Their home will fit their family and lifestyle now, if their family and lifestyle change, their home will change at that time.
  5. Building new is the best option for many people in the millennial generation.  More and more first time homebuyers are immediately entering the homebuilding market to meet their homeownership needs.  This ensures they are getting the most current advancements in energy efficiency, design, and technology.

It will be interesting to see the changes the millennial generation will make to the housing & real estate markets.  One thing is for sure, their expectations are driven by technology, which is ever changing and evolving.

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Tying it all Together for Generation X

Tying it all Together for Generation X

Posted By on Jan 14, 2013

This is our final blog in the Generation X Series and will probably be the shortest.  I want to briefly discuss three topics:

  1. Traffic patterns…  As you design the layout of the home, look at each area of your home and envision how family members will get from point A to point B.  Envision each area with a few extra guests.  Is there enough room for everyone to move around without tripping over furniture or each other?  Ask for help with this if you have a hard time looking at a plan and “seeing” the room.
  2. Where’s the grill…  Sounds silly but outdoor living space has become an integral part of our home.  Having easy access to the deck, patio or porch will encourage even more use of the area.
  3. Wash and wear… The latest countertop material may look great, but if you have to use a special cleaning product and use a 30 step process weekly to keep it shiny, is it worth it?  Look for finish materials that are durable and easy to clean.  Same can be said for furniture & decor.

This concludes the Generation X Design Tips blog series.  Check out the previous blogs in the series:

Home Design Tips for Generation X

Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage

Kitchen Design Tips (Kind of) for Generation X

Real Kitchen Design Tips for Generation X

Design Tips for Home Layouts for Gen X


Also check out our design series for Baby Boomers:

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Exterior of the Home

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Functionality

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Livability

Home Design Tips for Baby Boomers ~ Interior, Longevity


Our next few blogs will be focused on the Millennial Generation.

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Home designs that best suit Generation X families have design concepts that promote family interaction but still allows each family member to have their own space.  Logically this would signify that homes are getting larger; however, this is not the case.  In fact, the average square footage of family homes is slowly getting smaller.  The homes that Generation X grew up in typically had a formal living room or parlor and a family room along with an eat in kitchen and a formal dining room.  Generation X is moving away from this division of space and opting for a more functional layout of rooms.  Take a look at these tips to assist you in designing a home that meets your families needs.


sittingroomTwo Story homes seem to be the most common for families.  However, traditionally the second floor was reserved for all the bedrooms and the first floor was living space.  This layout has changed.  Many homeowners are keeping the master suite on the first floor and giving the entire second floor space to the children.  Some designs convert the second floor master bedroom area into a family room or play area.  By incorporating a large common area into the floorplan of the second floor, homeowners can design smaller bedroom spaces that have larger closet spaces and more room for multiple children to sleep or lounge.

utilityrmUtility Rooms are extremely popular for Generation X families.  This room is typically close to the kitchen and garage areas with an exterior door.  The laundry space was once a space that was hidden behind closed doors or even better in the basement.  Now, the space has become an integral part of the design.  By adding cabinets, counters, shelves, closets and hooks, the utility room’s use has expanded far beyond laundry.  This room is a catch all for snow covered outdoor gear and muddy paw prints.  It is a great room to store all your craft supplies as well as your bulk purchases.

familyroom-slideup-mBeyond the Kitchen and Utility Rooms, first floor designs for Generation X should be centered around “activity areas.”  Open concept is very popular with this Generation.  Being able to be involved with your children’s activities while being in a separate area is important to today’s parents.  When you review your floorplan consider what activities will happen in each area.  Being able to change the focus of each area easily is key to minimizing unused space.  Having a dedicated formal dining room is impractical, but being able to convert a space for large group dining is convenient.  Designing rooms with adequate storage either in the form of built in cabinetry and/or furniture is essential for these types of transitions.

The bottomline for Gen X families is being efficient.  In this case, using every square foot of your home maximizes efficiency.  Considering the use of each space in your home during the design process, is essential to this goal.

Other previous blogs for Generation X:

Real Kitchen Design Tips for Generation X

Kitchen Design Tips (Kind of) for Generation X


Home Design Tips for Gen X ~ Organized Storage

Home Design Tips for Generation X

Check back soon for our final Blog in the Generation X Series: “Tying it All Together.”

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