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.
Floor system being placed before addition of walls to assembly.
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.
Interior finish of a module with custom traditional base and door trim. The room’s floor will be finished after installation at the site.
Exterior of a module ready for delivery.
Laurie describing the roof assembly, which is transported in two flat pieces that are constructed with hinged connections, which are unfolded on site.
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.
Fireplace and hearth at the model home. This was fully constructed in the factory.
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.