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Systems Approval for Modulars… a thing of the past?

Very few people can take a stack of boxes and turn them into a pleasing home. Only a trained architect, with certification in modular systems structures, can take those modular boxes and make them into classic Victorians, grace-filled Colonials, charming Cape Cods, and bold and light filled contemporaries.

A trained architect is always the answer but don’t take my word for it just because I am one. Let me give you an example.

A while back we were helping a factory with the styling of a home. They were wise enough to know that their customer wanted an attractive showplace sitting on his expensive piece of land. I kept calling the factory because I saw through progress photographs that they were centering the windows vertically on each other instead of the placement we had drawn in the plans.

When we finally reached the bottom of the problem, it turned out that that the factory had always centered windows on each other because the system’s approval system of the past dictated that this was the way to do it and that they would ship more easily this way. Our poor house looked insanely bad to anyone with an eye for home design. Once we explained why they do not have to do this any longer, the factory understood completely and put the windows in the right place.

This factory-based tradition is called systems approval, and is just a fancy way of saying that until a factory has actually built a very specific roof, wall, basement, etc, then they do not have building code permission to construct it. The regulatory bodies were just trying to control the engineering and safety standards, as they should, before the time when trained architects were available for modular design. Until very recently, builders and factories of modular homes did not think that architectural input was needed in the process of building a custom home for a customer.

Fortunately, we have entered a period of home building in which the customer is more educated about what makes a modular home a home, and is willing to pay a bit more to get what they like in terms of styling… and properly place windows.

Douglas Cutler

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