Modular Home Scheduling Delays

Planning a realistic schedule and then maintaining it is one of the most challenging aspects of building a new home. There are just too many steps involving too many people with too little control over what they need to do. Every builder has scores of stories about construction delays. Because I’m no exception, I will post several stories about the causes of delays. But in my first post I want to talk about everyone’s tendency to believe in the “accordion solution” to modular home scheduling delays.

The Appeal of the “Accordion Solution” to Modular Home Scheduling Delays

One of my very first sales was to customers who were in a huge rush. This was one reason they wanted a modular home, since modulars are faster to build. We verbally agreed to a time line that included reasonable milestones for each of us. The most critical milestones for my customers involved making final decisions on their house plans and building specifications. This proved quite difficult for them.

A young man playing an accordion
There’s no accordion solution to modular home scheduling delays

Every time my customers requested another revision to their plans or needed another quotation for a different special order product, I informed them that we were falling behind schedule. They nodded in understanding. What I didn’t do was specify how much we were falling behind. I assumed they would recognize that since each revision of the plans always added ten days (sending it to the factory, waiting for the factory to draw it, getting it back to my customers, and waiting for them to review the changes) and each special material quote consistently added another four days, that they could do the math as easily as we did. I was sadly mistaken.
This is when I first recognized the allure of the accordion solution to modular home scheduling delays.  Over time I’ve come to appreciate that this “solution” is shared by most of our customers. The accordion solution assumes that a delay to a schedule milestone doesn’t add time to the end of the schedule. Instead the entire schedule gets compressed just like an accordion. The miraculous, expected outcome is that the milestones that follow will happen as previously scheduled – without any delays.
If you think about this, it really doesn’t make sense. But who am I to criticize, since I’ve found myself using the same accordion logic with my subcontractors and material suppliers. “What do you mean you can’t make up the week we lost due to the snow storm?” “I know it took me an extra week to make a selection, but I still need those cabinets on the date we first discussed.”  It’s just human nature for us to want what we want when we want it.

Modular Home Scheduling Delays Are Inevitable Because Stuff Happens

Do yourself, your modular dealer, and your general contractor a favor and work with them to set a realistic schedule. More importantly – given that “stuff happens” – be honest to yourself about the effect of delays on the initial schedule. Even more importantly, try to take the inevitable changes with patience and acceptance. Getting upset at your dealer, general contractor, family, or yourself won’t undo the delays any more than playing the accordion.
For more information about modular home scheduling delays, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.