Author Topic: How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?  (Read 478 times)

actonyourown

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 59
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?
« on: August 18, 2019, 09:44:14 AM »
So I'm a ways off from considering buying my own property, however, I enjoy looking at different options and pricing to see what makes the most sense for me or a future me.

I recently started looking at pre-designed houses and especially small houses.  These come with all the materials you need, which I see as somewhat entertaining but also seems like a possible cost-efficient way of getting a house in a non-traditional way.

Here are examples of what I'm talking about:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077L6KSGM?pf_rd_p=183f5289-9dc0-416f-942e-e8f213ef368b&pf_rd_r=EFXETAN0W7JWCVG62AQX

https://www.amazon.com/Allwood-Eagle-Point-1108-Cabin/dp/B00LYGIEU2/ref=pd_day0_hl_86_3/140-1955490-1665211?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00LYGIEU2&pd_rd_r=7a0abfb9-dbb7-4a42-b9cc-78f8713a3a88&pd_rd_w=3wRCt&pd_rd_wg=yG3M4&pf_rd_p=ad07871c-e646-4161-82c7-5ed0d4c85b07&pf_rd_r=AMC5QMJW2BZJJV23TG3B&psc=1&refRID=AMC5QMJW2BZJJV23TG3B

So I guess in this thought, I have a few questions that maybe the wider community can answer:

1. Does this seem reasonable for materials only in constructing a home?
2. What is the estimation to have it built?
3. Would the additional work of buying land, plumbing, electric, foundation (and possible modification to add a basement), and actually having it constructed price me out of this idea?
4. Has anyone completed such a venture or know someone who did?
5. Would the long-term benefits of a smaller home (i.e. decreased costs) pay off over the medium or long-term over buying a current structure?
6. Anyone with experience with these sorts of things; how much modification can a contractor do for you on one of these?

Like I said, this is just an idea and one I find interesting to entertain since I know what the cost of the house is.  Let me know your thoughts.

bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4060
Re: How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2019, 10:24:21 AM »
The quality is more akin to a trailer than a stick-built house.

https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IRC2015/chapter-6-wall-construction

Check out Table R602.3(5). A 2x4 stud is needed to support a 2nd floor. Unless I'm reading the specs wrong, the walls of this unit are 2 3/4", and that may include the siding.

Quote
Wall thickness: 2-3/4" (70 mm) - dual T&G pattern

It wouldn't pass code.

bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4060
Re: How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2019, 10:27:35 AM »
Ah, it's supposed to be a "recreational structure," whatever that is.

Quote from: amazon
Can you permanently live in there? [...]

This can be made into permanent home if it is built to code for it. The codes vary from state to state, even county to county sometimes. Codes for recreational structures are always more lenient that codes for homes. [...]

There are kit sellers that have materials that will meet code. Find one of those instead.

actonyourown

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 59
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2019, 07:26:41 PM »
Ah, it's supposed to be a "recreational structure," whatever that is.

Quote from: amazon
Can you permanently live in there? [...]

This can be made into permanent home if it is built to code for it. The codes vary from state to state, even county to county sometimes. Codes for recreational structures are always more lenient that codes for homes. [...]

There are kit sellers that have materials that will meet code. Find one of those instead.


Ah I didnt see that. Thanks for the advice!

CatamaranSailor

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 153
Re: How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2019, 06:44:41 AM »
Really, what you are asking is whether or not you want to be an owner/builder. Buying materials is not ever going to be a concern (which is all those kits are...pre-selected materials that they send to you on a truck). Being an owner/builder is completely doable and can be financially rewarding...but there are plenty of boxes to tick before looking at materials or kits.

To answer your original question, buying a materials kit like you described usually isn't worth it, especially if it's a standard stick framed building and not something special. Invariably, you'll have either too much or not enough of something, the engineering will be wrong for your local building codes, etc, etc. You're MUCH better off purchasing your materials from a local building supply company (not a big box store). They will gladly take your plans and do a take off for you...especially doing exactly the same thing a kit company does. They will either be cheaper or close in price. They will work with you on returns or shortages and usually will let you open an account while you build.

But again...there are like 50 things that should happen prior.

First and foremost...have you lot/land FIRST and design your house to fit the land. You are looking at kits with widely varying footprints. What if you decide your perfect building lot is narrow? Or you have great solar gain and want to take advantage of a passive solar design.

Second, materials costs are like 1/4 the actual cost of building. Does your lot have utilities? Will you have to install a power pole, septic, a road, etc? How much of the work will you do yourself? What about foundation? Mechanicals? Permits? Acting as your own general contractor can save you $$$ but believe me, you'll earn it.

The process is plenty challenging without having to try and deal with a material supplier that's a thousand miles away.

My $.02.....start looking for a building lot or land first. While doing so, research the building process in your area. Regulations and requirements vary widely. Talk to the building department about your potential project. Find out exactly what the engineering requirements are (wind, snow, live/dead load, etc) and what building codes you'll be expected to follow.

No matter where you get your materials you'll be expected to abide by those regulations. It would be a bummer to have a building shell up that's rated for a 40lb snow load only to have an inspector tell you your area requires 100 lb. Build everything on paper first and you'll most like avoid the bigger, nastier surprises.

Good luck.

Jon Bon

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 935
  • Location: Midwest
Re: How are pre-designed/wholly sold small houses?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2019, 06:46:15 AM »
Having basic architectural plans make up is pretty affordable, might as well get exactly what you want. Materials for building are cheap, its the labor that kills you. If you keep it relatively simple it really keeps hte price down. Complicated buildings need skilled labor.

Go to a big box store and they will even kit it out for you meaning, they will just deliver enough materials for your job. I feel prefab kits are fine, but Id prefer to get exactly what I want for an extra 5% cost you know?


LOL sailor said the same stuff as me just more of it.