Should I Buy a Modular or Add On?

A reader asks : “I have a 2010 14×76 single wide, what i want to do is basically add another 14×76 on to the existing structure, i know that i will have to ave a secure foundation for the existing part and for the new part. What i want to know is, in your opinion would adding on that much be economical compared to buying a brand new modular home.”

Like all investment questions the correct answer is “It depends.” Below are a few things to consider to make the right decision for your situation.

What are the chances you will want to sell the home in the next few years? I had a dealer tell me that it cost 30% more to set up a modular home but he had thirty lenders he could go to for financing. A singlewide on piers was much cheaper but there were at most three lenders who would do the deal. I believe a properly set up modular is eligible for all forms of conventional financing when/if you want to sell. With the project you propose you will be looking at providing owner financing.

Are you comfortable financing a home knowing you are locked into a lot of debt and monthly payments for a long time? Are you the kind of person who would rather pay cash and contribute sweat & blood so you can stay out of debt.

How much value do you put on your time. Would you rather work extra hours to make the payments, or do you already have the tools and prefer to keep busy working for yourself?

How important is “Pride of Ownership” to you and your family? No matter how nice a job you do, it will always be seen by others as “Two old trailers hooked together”.

I know from personal experience it was real painful when I looked at a completed project and told my spouse “Doesn’t it look nice? We could move here and save tons of money on our house payments.” Her answer was “You expect me to live in a dump like that?”

Construction projects are messy & dangerous. Are there others such as spouse & kids who will be effected by the dirt and mess? For some this kind of project would be a chance to teach them how to use tools, how to build things, and how to do repairs. For others it would be a constant worry about kids getting hurt and/or tools getting damaged or lost.

How much time do you have before you need the space? The project you describe could take months to complete. You could set up a modular and have it ready to move into in a week or two.

From a purely economic standpoint I don’t think there is any doubt the modular is the better choice. However, decisions in real life are never only about the money. Let me know what you decide and why you made that choice, so I can update the post.