Preconstruction Tasks and Your Construction Schedule

The previous two posts listed the tasks that must be completed before your modular home can be delivered and set on its foundation. This post will discuss how long it takes to complete all of these preconstruction tasks.

How Preconstruction Tasks Affect Your Move-In Date

Most people building a new home are prepared for the construction to take longer than planned. They have heard that subcontractors, inclement weather, utility companies, and inspection officials all contribute to delays. Few people, however, anticipate how long it takes to complete those tasks that must be done before they begin construction. Consequently, they budget too little time for these preconstruction tasks and then try to compensate by skipping some tasks and rushing through others. When this strategy fails, they miss their desired move-in date and pay for it with stress with their family, conflict with their dealer and GC, and cost overruns with their budget.

How Long It Takes to Complete Preconstruction Tasks

It can take you as little as five weeks or as much as a year or more to complete all of the preconstruction tasks listed in the previous two blog posts. But all of them must be done before your modular home is delivered and set on its foundation. Your responsibilities can take as little as one day, if you order a standard modular plan with no changes, select only standard features, agree all decisions are final, have cash to pay for everything, have a GC lined up and ready to go, and have a building permit in hand or don’t need one. If this is true for you, you will be an exception.
More likely, you will want to customize your modular and GC drawings and specifications, require some time to consider your decisions, and need to wait for the lender to approve your loan and the building department to issue your permit. You may even want to revise your drawings and specifications two or more times. Consequently, you will likely need several weeks before you are done with your preconstruction responsibilities.
Even if you are able to make final decisions about your drawings and specifications in one week, the manufacturer cannot build your home, and you do not want the manufacturer to build your home, until you have obtained a building permit and secured financing. These preconstruction tasks can take a couple of months. Closing on a construction loan often takes six to eight weeks, completing the preliminary steps required to apply for a building permit can sometimes take several weeks, and receiving a building permit after submitting the application can take up to 30 days. One of the most important variables affecting whether you will be done on time is how quickly you begin your efforts. If you wait two weeks, you will not be able to make up the time by asking your dealer, GC, lender, or building department to work faster.

Other Preconstruction Tasks

The start of your schedule will also be extended if you have not completed all of the following preconstruction tasks before you order your home, if you need them done:

  • Secured a building lot or will purchase one immediately
  • Surveyed your building lot
  • Resolved any deed and zoning issues with your building lot
  • Resolved any wetland issues with your building lot
  • Obtained a valid perc test and at least applied for a engineered septic design
  • Selected a GC and/or subcontractors

A for sale sign on an undeveloped building lot
Finding the right building lot can take more time than you expect.

Once you complete your preconstruction responsibilities, the manufacturer will need a minimum of five weeks to complete its tasks. The manufacturer typically requires at least three weeks to complete your production drawings and order your materials, one week to build your home, and one week to get it ready for shipment – for a total of five weeks from the date you are ready. It does not matter whether you complete your responsibilities in one day or one year, the typical manufacturer still needs a minimum of five weeks. Furthermore, if you select materials that need to be “special ordered” or are “back-ordered”, the manufacturer will need even more time. And if the manufacturer has strong sales, its backlog of orders can add several weeks to its schedule and your delivery date.
For a detailed schedule of when all of your preconstruction tasks must be completed as well as each player’s responsibility for completing each of these tasks, see Building a Modular Home on Schedule in my book The Modular Home.