One of the largest myths of modern modular home building technology is that you can not design a modular modular home with distinct, custom architectural style. The myth goes on to claim that modular homes are boxy and designed alike. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. My experience with one rather demanding client and their newly designed custom home, specifically crafted by their architect with modular technology easily debunks this myth.
As a builder of fine housing, both site built and modular built, I see many homes that are built without regard to architectural style. Some of these homes may be modular, yet others are conventionally built houses, often referred to as stick-built houses. Certainly, when critics view stick-built homes that lack architectural appeal, they simply blame the architect. However, when critics view modular homes that lack architectural appeal, they seem to overly generalize the modular housing industry and conclude that somehow, the factory engineering or manufacturing process restricts architectural style.
I typically see architects employ the following features to design beautiful homes of distinction:
• creative and interesting floor plans
• distinctive lines
• steep roof pitches
• Off-center gables and / or reverse gables
• rafter tails
• exterior elevations with angular bump outs
• boxed windows
• natural stone
• wood siding
• highly detailed trim
To de-bunk the myth, proof must be offered that enough of these features can be designed within modular parameters.
Our clients' architect first met with my partner and me to learn the general design and engineering parameters employed by the manufacturer. We spent approximately four hours reviewing modular dimensions and design parameters that would not only guide the architectural design but the design would be the most cost efficient. Armed with this information, the clients and their architect retreated into design sessions. After about six weeks, we received a call from the client requesting us to re-assemble to review the architect's preliminary designs.
To our pleasant surprise, the architect's design was both beautiful and efficient. The main house will contain in excess of 5,000 square feet; there will be an attached pool house, also to be built with modular technology. The architect used the modular configurations to create a very custom floor plan on the interior and exterior. On the interior, marriage walls were cleverly integrated into closet areas, hallways and service areas. Nine foot finished ceiling heights have been specified for the first floor, which will be built in the factory. The master bedroom will have a cathedral ceiling. On the exterior, the architect incorporated off-center roof ridges with rafter tails. The factory will build the roof ridges to the architect's specifications, and we will simply add the rafter tails on site, as the house is set. To create a truly distinct architectural style, one that would highly complement the roof lines, the architect specified casement windows for the front of the house, with many transom windows. There are numerous bump outs and bay windows; some will be installed during the factory manufacturing process, while others will be installed by us on site. The architect will be specifying stone and cedar-like exterior materials, all of which we will install on site.
Now to ask, has this myth been busted? Having seen the finished plan, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the architect has crafted an architectural style worthy of the term “custom”. Further proof has been the many compliments we routinely receive from other prospective clients that view these house plans. The architect is looking forward to his next custom design with our modular technology, as are we looking forward to again, supporting his next custom design. So, I guess you can say this myth has been busted: one can design a modular home with distinct, custom architectural style!