A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…….
System built, is the new name for all homes built with some factory constructed elements. Panelized, Log, Timber Frame and even Modular homes are now being referred to as System Built. I am the guy that fought calling Trailers, Mobile Homes, and HUD Code Homes, manufactured housing (the new name of trailers). But sometimes there is value in the evolution of your identity. Trailers are no longer trailers because trailers have wheels and can be towered. Mobile homes are….well Mobile. Today’s are neither mobile or tow able so I guess it does not make sense to call them that.
Modular homes are still built in Modules, so why the name change? The answer has more to do with the perception then the reality. Modular homes when they first came out were a sister to mobile homes, most were built in Mobile Home Factories with Mobile Home products but they beefed them up a little so they met the residential building code. Truth is, they were not a lot better then their cousins. However, today we have factories that build just Modular homes and they build a house that is considerably better then a typical site built home, however, much of the market still perceives them as their adolescent brethren.
This is one of my favorite analogies that makes my point. My father was a builder and my grandfather before him. Back in my grandfathers day carpenters were craftsman with hand and tool skills that exceed what most of today’s carpenters have. Look at the windows in an old building. A carpenter built the wood frame the holds the glass, he morticed out where the glass would sit with a hammer and a chisel. The glass was cut by hand and glazed into place with putty. Then the sashes we installed into a hand built frame, pulleys and counter weights were installed to make it operate easily, it was built with real craftsmanship. That same window however is likely rotting, the glass is single pain and leaks air at a high rate, and it probably does not go up and down like it once did. It’s U-Value is likely very high. Today we use windows built in a factory, on jigs with molded vinyls, the windows are double thermal pain with argon gas seals and will last for hundreds of years with U-Values below 1.00. These are modular or System Built windows. Which one is better? You tell me, I hate sales pitches.
System built Homes are houses that use the most modern construction techniques and materials in a controlled environment where perfection is achievable. You don’t see framing contractors building walls on Jigs to assure plum, level and square, you don’t see them using a spray foam gun hanging from the rafters to assure a tight seal around the windows, outlets and connection points, and gluing in addition to nails all critical elements to get both an air tight seal and continuous structural adhesion. Nope site built homes are still the old windows my grandfather built. Yet the world still sees Modular homes as what they used to be. So the name change does not change who we have been for the past 10 years, but hopefully it will help the world understand today’s system built homes are the next generation or quality construction.