A breakdown of cost for modular homes. Learn what you can expect to spend for a prefab and where all of the numbers come from.
This article is part of our Definitive Guide to Building Modular.
There are so many different variables that will affect the final cost of a modular home, so instead of trying to address each and every possible option, we’ll demonstrate the price breakdown for an average modular home. These numbers are estimates that serve to give you an idea of how much each stage may cost. The amount you will end up paying can and will be different.
Let’s assume that I’ve gotten a job offer that’s going to require moving to the town of Bethel, Connecticut. It’s an average town with a population of 18,584 where the median household income is $78,358. I’ve talked with my bank, and I have $250,000 with which to build my house. I’ve picked out a 1 story modular ranch design that I like that has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and is 1780 square feet.
Land – $15,000
Land value varies greatly depending on location. In some areas, an acre of buildable land can cost as little as $1,000 or as much $100,000. Our real estate agent found us a good .5 acre plot of land for $10,000.
Base Home Price – $93,000
The manufacturer has the base price for the home I want set at $93,000. Unfortunately, the cost doesn’t include the additional customizations that we want to make to the home.
Customizations – $32,000
While the modular home design is already almost exactly what we were looking for, it’s lacking the personal feel we’ll get from customizing our home. We need the two-car garage that my wife is insisting on, the hardwood floors, and the upgraded kitchen appliances. We also wanted to “green” up our home with some higher-grade insulation and better quality doors and windows. The garage is going to be the largest ticket item, costing us $24,000 all-in.
Don’t underestimate the cost of customization. In our home, we ended up spending an additional 1/3 of the base price to get the design exactly how we wanted it.
Site Prep – $6,500
We were very lucky that costs for prepping our build site were pretty low. Our property was already fairly flat and didn’t have many trees in our build area. As it was, we had to remove a few old tree stumps and level some land in the back of our property so that proper drainage wouldn’t be an issue.
Foundation – $22,250
Because we did proper due diligence of the land beforehand, we identified a rock ledge that would have cost us at least a few extra thousand dollars to dig through. Instead we just moved our house to a slightly different location and avoided the hassle all together. Since we want extra storage space and the option to add some more living space in the future, we opted for a full basement instead of a crawl space. Placing our house on just a crawl space would have been just as structurally sound, and only half the cost, but the utility of a full basement made it worth it.
Taxes, Fees, and Freight – $10,906
In addition to the delivery costs for the home which pay for the flatbed trucks that will be carrying the modules, I also have to pay for the flag cars that drive in front of and behind the trucks to warn other drivers of the oversized loads. Each state has different taxes and fees associated with building homes. These are separate from permitting costs.
Button Up – $17,000
Once the home was set, the button-up work began. Not even counting the additional site work or on-site construction, the cost of finishing the home ran us around $17,000.
On-Site Building – $10,000
The expense of the two-car garage was accounted for in the customizations section, so the only other on-site building that we did was adding a front porch. We wanted the welcoming, classic feeling a wrap-around “farmer’s porch” provides, and it only cost us $10,000.
Utilities – $3,000
We are lucky that our build site is so close to the street. It only cost us $3,000 to connect to town utilities. We were talking about going a more self-sustaining route and installing well and septic system for $18,000, but with the minimal land to use, we decided against it.
Permits – $1,982
The cost of permits will vary greatly in different municipalities not only because the cost of permits are different, but also because some areas have an entirely different list of permits than others. You can get a detailed list of permit costs from your build area’s town office, but here’s a breakdown of the permits that would be charged for our house in Bethel.
Building Permits $1,669
Mechanical Permits $273.06
Pre-plan review fee $20
Certificate of Occupancy $20
Total Fees = $1,982.06
All-In Cost – $211,638
The final cost of my new modular home comes to $211,638. That comes out to just around $118.90 per square foot of living space and includes a two-car garage, a beautiful porch, a full basement, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a modern kitchen, and gorgeous hardwood floors.