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Answers to Common Questions About Modular Homes


What is modular construction?

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Modular Home Construction is the use of prefabricated, wood frame components built in a factory and transported to a job site whey they are permanently affixed to an existing block or poured concrete foundation purpose built to receive them. These homes are built to the same International Residential Codes required across North America.


What are the advantages of modular home construction as compared to other methods of homebuilding?

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  • Quicker building cycles, i.e. 4 months versus 14 months.
  • Superior control of quality inherent in the factory process, far less waste.
  • Better protection, more efficient use of and control over all building materials, no exposure to elements during manufacture process.
  • Superior structural integrity.
  • Superior energy efficiency.

Who are you and what is your experience as a home builder with modular construction compared to other building technologies?

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Josh Margulies, President, Ames Modular Builders, Inc.

I have built homes in many different environments. I have built homes in the production and custom environments. I have built homes 1 at a time and 12 at a time. I have built ten homes all on 1 street at one time and eight homes scattered over 5 counties and 3 states (also at one time). I have seen homes built in 60 days and home that languished for 3.5 years before they were completed.

I have been in the business of building homes all of my adult life. My experience has shown that for custom, scattered lot construction, modular construction produces one of the finest quality homes available to the consumer in the country. From the stand point of producer and end user, modular housing technology produces, by far, some of the finest wood frame homes.

I am not a fanatic, and cannot assert that modular construction is a panacea in all environments.  On-site construction has its place in areas that have access to an abundant, low-cost, skilled and energetic labor force with locally sourced building materials that are cheap, good and plentiful.  Land, that ultimate factor input, is cheap and abundant.  Barring those vanishing conditions, on-site building may be more cost effective.  I do not believe that a greater level of field assembly relative to the amount of factory construction will produce a “better” house.  In most circumstances, in the custom-built home environment, modular built homes will produce a stronger, tighter home in less time and, often, more cost effectively.

A note about “custom”

There are two legitimate definitions of the term custom as it applies to home building.

1. Custom Home:  a home built by a contractor for an owner on land owned by the owner.

2. Custom Home:  a home built to specifications unique to the buyer.  One of a kind.


How much do modular homes cost?

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The combination of variables and options that go in to building a home are mind boggling to contemplate.  Consider the ranch style home consisting of two components only.  Given modular parameters this could be a home from 28’x30’ to 30’ x 60’ or more specifically from 840 to 1800 square feet.  In all its intermediate sizes, it is still a rectangle or combination of rectangles.  Based on standard turnkey construction specifications, assuming neither options nor upgrades, standard turnkey pricing will average $140.00 per square foot for unfinished bonus ranches, $150.00 per square foot for 2 box ranchers, and $170.00 per square foot for Cape Cods and Chalets.

Free Estimates and the Pre-Construction Analysis

Garages? Decks? Upgraded Flooring?  Covered Porches and Gazebo? the design of your house, the design of your lot, your permit costs, your site development costs potential for dirt problems, potential for septic or well problems, water problems, deed restrictions, HOA considerations ……. How many bathes, what kind of kitchen counter top?

How much does it cost?  Seriously?

By incorporating standard specs to any general modular house type built on a lot that is presumed perfect in all ways, weather is good, dirt is perfect, power and water are nearby — you know “perfect” I can put numbers in a spread sheet and get a “free estimate.”  The accuracy of the estimate is about +-10%.

I cannot build a home based on a free estimate.  To accurately assess price, I produce a pre-construction analysis that will determine exact costs of all construction, site development, engineering, regulatory and design costs.  The analysis produces a detailed set of plans, specifications, and detailed contract.  It may also include renderings, site plans, details regarding kitchen appliances — anything.  It is an analysis and seeks to answer questions a builder needs to know to build the house properly (the first time).  The cost of the analysis is about 1% of the estimated cost of the entire project.

Request pricing and specifications


How are you different and why should I work with Ames Modular Builders versus some other modular retailer?

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Most of Michigan appears to sell modular homes through “street dealerships.” Dealers (also called “retailers”) may own models and sell from an existing inventory of homes on their parking lot. Of course, these same dealerships may also represent qualified contractors as well. It is how things are done here … and I understand this goes to the extreme importance of the relationship between “Dealer” and “Factory”.

I am neither a dealer nor a retailer. I own neither model, model park, ware house, show room, sales center, nor big truck. With the exception of the truck, these things help sell homes. They do not, however, help build them.

Building homes is the focus of my work as a General Contractor.

I am a custom, modular home builder.  I build homes on privately owned land.  Clients contract with me to have their homes built on their land to their desired design and specifications using modular construction technologies.

The factory that builds my components is New Era Building Systems out of Strattenville PA, a member of the Champion Homes family of companies.  My area of operation is 45 mile radius from Elk Rapids Michigan:

I do turnkey work only.

  no DIY

The Buyer does no work in my contracts.  I am, at all times, the sole responsible individual for the home building effort.  I am the person that applies for and receives the building permit and I am the person that must acquire your final use and occupancy permit.  The Buyer is represented by me alone in the course of the build and I am compelled to be responsible for, and oversee all aspects of, the work.   I work with the Buyer only, they work with me only.  Buyers do not hire or supervise anyone in an Ames Modular Home Build.  Buyers tell me what they want and I build it for them.

I do not remodel, renovate, or refinish any existing home.  That is, I do not do home improvement work at all.   I work exclusively in new construction.  I will demolish an old home to replace it with a new one.

I am in no way limited to a specific catalogue of homes.  New Era customizes.  All good factories customize.  All good contractors customize.


I like it, what is the procedure?

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The point at which it is appropriate to start a serious dialogue with any custom home builder is AFTER you have acquired a lot, have funding or financing available and a realistic budget within which they want to stay.  If you have a design, you’d like an estimate please send it to me.  However, if you are serious about building a custom home, call me.  I have an office in Traverse City.  We should sit down and talk.



I build modular homes that are within a 45 mile radius of Elk Rapids, Michigan essentially servicing the Grand Traverse Bay area.  I have a small office which is conveniently located at 800B Garfield Avenue, Traverse City. Meetings are by appointment only.

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Send a message, ask a question, or request a meeting.  


Conveniently located in Traverse City, Michigan.


Meetings are by appointment only.


Over 35 years experience.


Turnkey specs and sample price list available.


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