Modular Homes Field Trip!

February 25, 2008

Earlier this month, Hilary Ward of Orange Architect and I visited Epoch Modular Homes in Pembroke, New Hampshire.   Hilary has recently designed a modular home being built by Epoch and were both eager to see the modular factory in action! 

Modular home construction has taken great strides and has moved far beyond the trailer-like structures of its earlier days.  It can be much more efficient than standard stick construction (and far less expensive) because it takes place in a controlled environment in an assembly-like fashion.  Design is virtually unlimited: the team at Epoch is able to work with architects and designers to determine how a design can be broken into modules, or pieces of the house that are small enough to travel on a flat bed truck from the factory to the building site.  A typical home can be constructed in 4 or 5 days after the modules are delivered to the site.  The modules can be delivered with electrical, plumbing, heating, interior wall finishes, trim and paint. 

Laurie Maynard, the Assistant Sales Coordinator at Epoch, gave us a tour of the factory and of the model home where the Epoch offices are located.  We were fortunate that a large house was currently in mid-construction, so we could see several stages of construction underway. 

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Floor system being placed before addition of walls to assembly.

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Wall construction

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A framed module – the closest wall is a ‘joining wall’, so will not be finished but will be attached to the adjacent module’s joining wall.  Epoch works carefully to detail the modules’ connections so they are not obvious in the completed project.

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Interior finish of a module with custom traditional base and door trim.  The room’s floor will be finished after installation at the site.

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Exterior of a module ready for delivery.

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Laurie describing the roof assembly, which is transported in two flat pieces that are constructed with hinged connections, which are unfolded on site.

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The ends of the sloping rafters are connected to the horizontal attic joists with hinged gusset connections, allowing them to be folded flat for transportation.

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Fireplace and hearth at the model home.  This was fully constructed in the factory.

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The model at Epoch Homes.

Given our personal experience working closely with carpenters and associated tradespeople throughout a typical construction process, it an adjustment to consider modular homes as a new standard.  In modular home construction, who is the one who takes pride in the entire built project, who knows the entire home from foundation to ridge? 

Although the modular construction process is extremely efficient, the construction we saw could be greatly and simply improved by use of engineered and FSC Certified lumber, deeper insulation cavities and thoughtful material choices and detailing.  Ms. Maynard let us know that Epoch works with architects on detailing and on material choices, so there is even greater opportunity for more sustainable construction. 

GreenBridge is committed to exploring new (and tried-and-true) materials and construction methods, and we see modular homes as an option for new home construction, another tool in our toolbox.  Our thanks to Laurie Maynard at Epoch Homes for sharing her time and knowledge with us.  Visit www.epochhomes.com for more information.

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6 Responses to “Modular Homes Field Trip!”


  1. Thanks so much for your kind words. A few points I would like to address:

    Who takes pride in the overall project?

    Epoch Homes acts as a subcontractor to the local builder. We take tremendous pride in the product we build, but ultimately, the builder, who is responsible for putting on all of the finishing touches, is the one who will put his final stamp on the project, and takes credit for meeting the aesthetic expectations of the homeowner. As Laurie mentioned, many times an architect is involved in the process, and will manage certain detail work. Nothing wrong with all three parties sharing the glory though!

    Although the modular construction process is extremely efficient, the construction we saw could be greatly and simply improved by use of engineered and FSC Certified lumber, deeper insulation cavities and thoughtful material choices and detailing.

    Epoch builds custom homes. We work with the builder, architect and homeowner with regards to the design of the house and the products. Choosing engineered lumber, FSC certified materials, etc. is a collaborative effort and we often do use such products. Epoch is one of two modular home companies in the country that own the Icynene spray foam equipment, and we offer an option for a deeper wall cavity via strapping the interior walls, that allows the spray foam to get betweeen the wall stud and thew sheetrock to create a thermal break.

    One more note, Epoch Homes is the first modular manufacturer in the nation to be approved under the Modular Green service now offered by the NAHB Research Center, which administers the National Green Building Certification program for residential construction. This means that when a homeowner requests green certification for their new home, the green building practices and options will be verified at our factory, making it much easier and less expensive to achieve the awards.

    Dave Wrocklage
    Director of Sales and Marketing
    Epoch Homes
    107 Sheep Davis Rd.
    Pembroke, NH 03275
    603-225-3907
    http://www.epochhomes.com

  2. greenbridge Says:

    Dave,
    Thank you for your comments and additional information. I’m glad to see that the builder is still able to execute control and have ownership (responsibility) for the project. It’s also good to know that you have a lot of flexibility in materials and methods of construction in your process. Congratulations for earning your credentials with the NAHB – says a lot for your organization.

    Juli

  3. dypekneeque Says:

    Interesting post. will come back


  4. Now a day, Modular home construction has become the choice of home owner, but people always think that modular home prices are lower than traditionally built homes. It is ture in moste case, but not always. I think is depending on who your builder is, where it is being built and various other factors.

    What can you save by modular solution? The time is the biggest factor you can save.

    http://www.lifesbox.com : Prefab modular building manufacturer.

  5. greenbridge Says:

    I completely agree with your comments regarding costs. I recently learned about Blu Homes, who is building modular homes with a particular focus on sustainability and their product includes installation. The installation and ‘putting together’ of the pieces can be problematic for a builder not accustomed to this construction, negating some of the positives of modular fabrication. These homes would be considered expensive in some regions and affordable in others, since there are huge swings in home costs around the country. Importantly, thoughtful design, like theirs, also results in huge energy costs reduction, which is a big long-term savings.


  6. […] articles and a visit about 5 years ago to Epoch Modular Homes with my architect pal Hilary Ward. (Modular Homes Field Trip) It was interesting and exciting to see the possibilities of the process, but it wasn’t until […]


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