Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mansions Go Modular

I recently got a question about amending a local building code to allow for use of steel shipping containers as a building material.  The local code discourages the use of "modular" materials, and the questioner wanted to know how to make a special allowance for containers (as a kind of ecological exemption).  I consulted my (very) local architect about this and he and I came down on the same page about it - why not allow modular?  There's some pretty cool modular stuff out there, far better than the stereotypical modular homes of old.  Then he (okay, I'll admit it, he's my husband) sent me this interesting article from The Washington Post about modular mansions being built in Maryland.  I'm a big fan of on-site, stick built homes, but if you can't tell the difference, why not go for something that's quicker and more environmentally friendly?


Jamie Baker Roskie

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Comments

Interesting pick up - I saw the same article in the Post. I love the modular idea in theory, but in practice I have seen it be one mixed up, poorly delivered late mess. The contracts generally do not deal well with swapping from typical construction to modular UCC based sales agreements.

Despite these current reservations, I think this will be more and more of the future, too much potential money and time savings involved.

Posted by: Timothy R. Hughes | Mar 5, 2010 10:12:46 AM

Good comemnt, Tim. I notice that the "poorly delivered, late mess" problem is pretty big in stick built developments as well. The UCC issue is interesting, though. Does it allow fewer remedies for home buyers?

Posted by: Jamie Baker Roskie | Mar 5, 2010 11:42:49 AM

No question delays are problems in both settings, it is more of caution to set expectations with reality.

The UCC adds a whole layer of complexity - maybe more remedies, maybe less, may similar (warranty) but curtailed by limitations of remedies or damages.

I talked about this in my post today, and also gave your blog a plug!
http://www.valanduseconstructionlaw.com/2010/03/articles/products-liability/modular-homes-wave-of-the-future-but-currently-risky/

Posted by: Timothy R. Hughes | Mar 8, 2010 6:10:41 AM

Thanks Tim. I read your blog on this with interest - it really elucidates the issues. I highly suggest folks check it out!

Posted by: Jamie Baker Roskie | Mar 9, 2010 5:10:36 AM

Thanks for the kind words Jamie, and back at you! This blog has lots of interesting directions, and I found the Good.com site because of your post on Portland's tool libraries!

PS - interesting comment in my post from a modular builder, and reply from me, if you want to keep following ...

Posted by: Timothy R. Hughes | Mar 10, 2010 1:34:17 PM