Life-altering events often touch off a remodeling project. So it was with a Manchester, N.H., couple about to have their third child. “They [wanted] four bedrooms and a bath on the second floor and ... to remodel the first floor by converting two bedrooms into a living room and turning the living room into a dining room,” says Doug Basnett, the CEO of Epoch Homes, in Pembroke, N.H., who acted as general contractor. (Usually, Epoch Homes, which fabricates the modules as well as designs, builds, and remodels modular homes, acts as a subcontractor.)
An engineer determined that the original house could support a second story. The Epoch Homes crew then bored a small hole in an exterior wall to check its thickness, enabling them to match the module to it. They measured for plumbing pipes as well.
One module has bedrooms and a stair opening; the other, two bedrooms and a bathroom. Epoch Homes fitted each module with the electrical and plumbing, running the feeds to the general area of the plumbing below, and a subcontracted builder worked with Epoch’s designers to determine where to access the connection points.
Epoch painted the drywall, did the interior trim, installed R-22 insulation in the 2x6 exterior walls, and strengthened the modules for travel. “The plywood sheathing and wall sheathing is glued. The drywall is glued,” Basnett says. “We [use] a lot more fasteners and plates to make it more rigid.”
One of the biggest benefits to using modules is speed. From design through button-up, this project took just four weeks. The shorter time span lowers labor costs and, Basnett says, costs can be better controlled.
In general, modular costs about 15% to 20% less than a traditional remodel. This project cost about $80,000: $65,000 for designing and manufacturing the modules, and $15,000 in labor for the siding, electrical, plumbing, and interior connection.
On a Monday morning starting at 7 a.m., a roofing crew removed the original roof. Epoch’s crew prepared the home by putting a new sill on top of the ceiling system. The next morning at 8 a.m., Epoch brought in a crane and set the modules. “We bolt the modules together and then nail the second floor to the first floor just as you would with a regular stick-built home,” Basnett says. By noon the attachment was done.
A stair builder built stairs on-site to connect the floors. A plumber connected pipes from floor to floor, and the electrician dropped feeds down through a chase and tied the electrical to the existing panel.
Remaining carpentry items included siding the house, adding a final course of roof shingles (two courses were put on at the factory), installing a door where the two modules come together (marriage wall), and a minimal amount of drywall work at the top of the stairs between the two modules. Epoch also installed more energy-efficient windows on the old portion of the home to match the modules’ new windows.
—Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.