What Factors Affect the Cost of a Modular Building?

Pricing Modulars

How much should you expect to pay for a modular building? In the prefab world, you will notice that prices fall within a pretty wide range. So what are you REALLY paying for when you purchase a more expensive unit? Better quality? More customization? Know this: quality is not the ONLY factor that affects the final sales price. Learn what to look for when shopping and comparing quotes for modular buildings.

temporary housing by Modular Genius

The main factors that affect the price of a modular building unit include the following:

1. Building Materials

Quality building materials can cost more. Sometimes cheaper means lower quality materials.
The cost of building materials will also depend on what’s in stock with a particular supplier (micro-level) and what the global supply and demand chain (macro-level) is for those materials.

2. Site Prep

Common sense says the more prep work that is required, the more it’s going to cost. The price to prep your site will vary widely based on your location and site layout. Sites that are rocky, sloping, prone to flooding, or covered in debris will require more labor and more time, therefore the price will be higher. Sites that are relatively flat, clear of debris and have a firm foundation will be easier and quicker to prep and therefore, less expensive. In addition, the daily rate for a site prep team (if outsourcing) will range depending on your city and cost of living, hourly wages, etc.

3. Used vs. New

In most cases, you will save money if you buy used. There are rare instances when it may actually cost MORE to bring an older modular unit up to code than to purchase a new unit. If you are debating between buying new vs. used, do your research. Find out your local code regulations, then contact several suppliers in your area that do sell both new and used modular buildings.

To give you an idea of the difference in price, the average cost estimate for a 1,200-2,000 square foot modular building is:

Used: $40,000-$75,000 ($33-$38 per sq ft)
New: $100,000-$200,000 ($83-$100 per sq ft)

4. Custom Features

Just like traditional stick build, the more you customize, the more you are going to pay. Having beer on tap and a pool in the backyard is going to cost you. Not that that’s what you are looking for in a modular building, but you get the point. Many suppliers offer a standard, as-is, package for an affordable price.

delivery of a modular building

5. Delivery

Most suppliers charge a flat rate for an average delivery radius, then an additional fee for every mile outside of that. Note: Find a supplier near you (or your site). The less mileage the delivery truck has to travel, the less they will charge. Additionally, if there is any difficulty in accessing your site by flatbed truck and trailer (i.e., gravel roads, narrow entrance, highly trafficked area, two-lane highway, low-hanging tree branches, etc.), the total delivery charge may be a bit higher. Basically, anything that would add time or labor to delivery will increase your price. In summary: go local and make site access as easy as possible for delivery.

6. Utilities

The cost to hook up utilities and the monthly rate for use will vary depending on your city and municipality. Generally speaking, if you live in an area where the cost of living is high (a big city or on either U.S. coast), you are likely going to pay more than you would in an area where the cost of living is lower (the Midwest and South, for example). While you can’t control the cost of utilities, it is helpful to know what the connection and monthly fees will be so that you can budget accordingly before signing a contract with a modular supplier.

Have questions?
If you have questions about modular building features, pricing, benefits of used vs. new, or tips for choosing a supplier, you can read Modular Building: A Buyer’s Guide.

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