Day 3 - Today we Really Start Construction ... Sort of ... / by eric teran

Being an optimist I usually figure everything will go smoothly. Why not? Life is why. Hence my conversion to a realist optimist. More on that later. Once again no dirt moving at 8 am. The excavator has a blown fuse and the bobcat has a flat tire. At least they are on the site. Progress.

I use my time wisely with Juan (the contractor who is supplying lots of subs) at the local McDonald's (to stay warm as it is 30 degrees outside). Even though Juan is on board I will be doing most of the construction coordination. Mainly to save money, I want to learn and I am not using traditional construction methods. There has been a tremendous amount of pre-construction coordination in this project. I am using two systems that I have never used before in Superior Walls and a Modular home.

Superior Walls is a paneling system that can be placed below or above grade (up to three stories). It has been around for 35 years but they are not mainstream. At least not in my Architecture world. I went online and found great and horrendous opinions. However, all the horrendous comments were mainly due to bad building techniques or cutting corners in the installation process. 

The wall that will be installed below grade. See the savings in labor in that the insulation, studs, access holes are already installed. No need for site work or wasted materials.

After calling over 25 modular companies and giving deposits to two of them I finally found Excel Homes. I'm an architect and I like to be involved with the decisions. The other modular companies (email me for names and personal opinions) were very hard to communicate with. Granted I did not know enough about modular to design an efficient home on my first attempt. I was probably an annoying customer. However, they promised that they could do anything. They failed to mention the flaws in my design would drive up cost and a majority of promises were slowly broken. The whole point of doing a modular home is to get a finely built home quickly, less material waste for the environment and at a lower cost than traditional building methods. 

Excel Homes Modular installation.

Advantages of using prefab systems:
1. Time. You save a lot of it which equals saving money.
2. Craftsmanship. It is all built in a factory in a controlled environment which leads to tolerances of less than 1/8". Even for concrete. 
3. Control cost. You pay ahead of time so you know exactly what you are paying and what you are getting. 
4. Good for the Environment. Materials are not wasted. If there are left overs at the factory they just use it for another project. Less trash. 
5. Price. If designed correctly the price is significantly lower. 

As always there are negative as well:
1. No time for procrastination. The majority of materials and decisions must be made long before the house arrives at the site. We slacked off a bit but we didn't know if we were going get the construction loan from the bank. That is a story best told for another day. 
2.  Variety of options. This is why I choose Excel Homes and not one of the other 25 companies. Modular companies only provide a standard and some basic upgrades options. However, these are pretty basic and they do not like to provide custom orders. Excel worked with me and gave me lots of options. They were the only ones that agreed to install a steam shower and a stand alone bath tub.