Changing the Katrina Cottage


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Lots going on around here in real-time.  We are packing up the Crab Shack, the kitchen and bathroom and mudroom that is, because the builders are starting in here on Monday.  We’re going to live in John’s office, which is above the garage.  It also serves as a guest suite – it has a daybed and a bathroom of course.  So we’ll be living up there for as long as it takes them to finish up in here. (Hopefully a week to ten days.)

Plus it’s my daughter’s birthday tomorrow and we are going to VA for a day trip to celebrate!  It’s also my cousin Irene’s birthday – so it’s a double celebration! Busy, busy, busy.

Little Choptank 2015 J October 262

The plans call for them to break through in the mudroom and add double doors into the back hallway of the “addition” a/k/a the house.  This was the requirement to make it an addition….only the one entry.  Then, they are tearing down the wall of the bathroom in the Crab Shack where the sink is now and re-configuring the bathroom (except for the shower) to make it bigger.

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 500

We’re also adding a tub – which actually was the cause of much conversation as to what tub we would get.  We were going to get one of those beautiful stand alone tubs, that was our decision for a long time.


Then we realized that a lot of the guests who would actually use the tub would not find it that convenient to get into and out of.  So then we went to a drop in tub.  They are also beautiful and we’d have the tile surround and have Fernando (lead builder) make wainscoting to go in the front.

Here was my vision – not the tile all the way up to the ceiling, but maybe a third of the way.  The shower and tub placement are like they will be in the Crab Shack:




So we went to Seaford, Delaware where the plumbing showroom was (had great Pizza there at Sal’s by the way) and gave Karen from Elegant Designs Showroom our plans to make sure everything would fit.  Well, surprise, surprise and not in a good way….we don’t have room for a drop in tub!!  So if we want to completely change the floor plans (a definite NO) then we had one choice – a slide in tub.  A plain old tub.  It’s a little fuzzy but here is a picture of the new configuration of the bathroom and closet – where our kitchen is now:


I was a little disappointed – a “little” in this case meaning “very.”  There’s no room for a tile surround or the wainscoting, although we’ll still have tile around the three sides of it.  But let me tell you, by this point in the project, even though it’s been a very good experience and we’re still happy with the workers and the work, we’re a little tired of it all.  So, we bought the tub and moved on.

The rest of the project is moving along – although slowly it seems.  Everything takes longer than you think.  Everybody says it on a building project as large as this, and it’s so true.  When the actual building started – in March – John thought they’d be done by his birthday – early August.  There’s a reason why we say he could be the president of the optimist club.  I thought they’d be done by my birthday – early October.  But now, we’ll be “thankful” if we get in the house by Thanksgiving!  We’re going to spend it at Chrissy’s in Virginia anyway.

So, next time we’ll be back to the progress as it moved along in July – putting on the metal roof.  Meanwhile, enjoy our sunset.

Little Choptank 2016 G July 089



The Framing Continues – Roof Trusses



View from the drone

View from the drone

Here’s an awesome picture John took with the drone.  I just love these type of pictures…’s opened up a whole new world of photography to me…and it’s so fun!

Where old house used to be

Where old house used to be

All that hay and light green grass is where the old house was.  (You can read more about that here.) On the other side of our fence is our neighbor Noelle.  She’s selling her place….if anyone is interested.  :)

Anyway, the guys worked very quickly on the roof trusses, it was amazing!  Lars, our house designer (he wasn’t an architect and he wasn’t a draftsman) used to manage a roofing company, so he felt using trusses instead of building the roof piece by piece as you go was better for us, with all the peaks and roof lines.

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Little Choptank 2016 E May 121

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Little Choptank 2016 E May 137

And the best part was they were all done in two days!

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Here you can see the entrance to the property, and our metal building.

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roof truss.1

From the front with the “Crab Shack”…..

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From the back…..

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I was surprised to find out that almost 4 out of 5 new homes built in America use manufactured roof trusses to frame the roof.  It replaces the conventional rafters and ceiling joists and enables a builder to construct homes that have more complex roof and ceiling designs and do it quickly and accurately.


Here are some of the advantages:

Trusses can span long distances and eliminate the need for a lot of load bearing walls.

It’s less costly than stick roof framing because it can be made of shorter lengths of 2 by 4’s.

It can be designed for many different roof styles.

They are designed by engineers and will meet the roof load and building codes.

They can be erected quickly.

Well, we are finally on our way.  So many decisions have to be made in the next few weeks and months, some rather quickly.  And anybody who knows me will tell you, I do not like making snappy decisions.  I like to research, and to mull.  The definition for that is perfect – to think about deeply and at length.  Yep, I like to mull about my decisions.  Of course, since we’ve been planning on building for a lot of years now, some decisions are made.  Others have been made on the spot.  Scary!

Come back and take a look at what they are….and maybe even help!

Little Choptank 2016 E May 095

We Didn’t Know What We Didn’t Know



First off, now that I’m “back”, I want to thank you all for hanging in there.  (Although truthfully most of the emails I got are questions about our Katrina Cottage – a/k/a The Crab Shack.)  It’s been a while, I know – but I just didn’t feel like writing.  And here’s why…..

As you may remember, we moved down to Maryland a year ago – and we were moving along nicely for a while with our house plans.  Then our draftsman got sick, and we didn’t hear from him for months (and months and months)!  It was very annoying discouraging.  When we did finally get them back, of course, there was another change or two we wanted done, and that took another few weeks.

House Plans

Finally the day came!  The plans were all done and we were going to give them out to three builders.  Two local regular builders and one modular.  Believe it or not, that process took much longer than we anticipated also!  The two local builders had to come to the property a few times to check out the road, or measure something, and the modular builder (who I dealt with only online) hardly ever wrote and didn’t even acknowledge receiving our plans for two weeks!

I’d say it took at least another month before we were able to make an appointment with each of the builders to go over their proposals.  When we met with the first builder, we went over each and every page, with them practically reading each page in its entirety.  When we got to the last page, our jaws dropped – over a million dollars!!  Yep, you read that right.  I mean, how stupid were we?  We never thought it would have been that much!

Now yes, this was the highest bid, and we knew it would be.  The other local builder was somewhat less, coming in around the $840,000 range.  (Between us friends – this was the one we secretly figured we’d be going with.)  And as expected, the modular builder’s bid was the least – however, they did not have a lot of things included in their price that would still have to be added in, like wood floors throughout, and granite counter tops – among many other things.

OLD HOUSE PLANS 1st FloorAfter waiting ALL THAT TIME I was so disheartened.  And I’m not even just talking about waiting for the plans to be finished and the bids to come in.  I had been working on these plans for years!  I scoured probably a hundred house plan books in libraries and bookstores, I bought at least 10 of them, and looked at thousands of plans online to draw up what we wanted in our dream house.  Then we had the draftsman draw them up, and we changed them many, many times making these some of the most expensive plans you’ll ever see.  If we only knew then what we know now!   I was done.  I just couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to continue talking about house plans.  We told the builders the bad news, we were just going to shelf everything for a while and then see what we wanted to do.  John at first thought we’d start planning right away.  But I didn’t want to.  I didn’t have the enthusiasm for it.  It was our first full-time summer down here and I wanted to enjoy it, not only getting a break from all the house plan talk, but I also didn’t want people coming down to the property all the time checking on wetlands, and height requirements, and setbacks or anything else.

By the way, here is the best piece of advice I can give you…..if you are planning to build a house – buy plans that are already made up.  You can always find a draftsman or house designer or even an architect to change them.  But drawing up plans from scratch, and then making all the changes that will be necessary is unbelievably expensive. Trust me on this one.  And by the way, we have a full set of house plans for sale. :)


So we took a break.  And enjoyed the summer.  We fished, we went out in the kayak, we took sunset cruises, we toured around the area a little, we barbecued, we had company, and we relaxed.  It was heaven!  And then we decided to get back to business.

Come back next time to see what we’ve been up to.


And The Tide Will Rise



We learned something new about the tides when we moved to our place in Maryland this past October.  And we learned it the hard way.  It’s called the King Tide phenomenon.  It’s the highest of high tides, and occurs when the gravitational forces of the sun, the moon and the Earth’s rotation align perfectly.

This is how it started out when John and Gene went fishing the morning of October 3, 2014.

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And a little while later:

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The tide kept creeping up all day, Gene wasn’t even sure where the road was when he left that evening.

But here’s where we went wrong, the next day we wanted to run a few chores.  We had a Mazda Tribute, a high enough vehicle we thought, so a little water wouldn’t be a problem.  But this is what it looked like the next day:

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Little Choptank 2014 K Oct, Nov and other pics 086

We went out anyway, and found that even the main road was full of water:

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When we returned home we realized that our driveway had gotten considerably worse, but we decided to plow through.


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And so, here is where the Mazda died.

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Our expensive lesson was that not only was the engine flooded, it was beyond repair.  It would have cost more to fix than the car was worth, and needless to say, when the King Tide comes around again, we’ll be staying home!

Today’s update:  We just got our house plans back from the draftsman!  We are very excited and will finally be starting our journey to build our dream home!  We’ll have plenty of info on it in the near future, stay tuned!


Wind Power



Since our metal building has been built, we have made a little progress.  We’ve made room in the garage so we could bring down the bins and boxes we’ve already packed, and we’ve taken a truck load of those bins and boxes from our house in Jersey down to Maryland.

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I put Chrissy’s bins in plastic, just to make sure no little critters find their way in:

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Now we will start doing a few more fix-ups at the Jersey house, and also pack up more bins!  We’re finally back on track.  Target month to put this house up for sale is now July, so hopefully things will keep moving ahead.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d write about our wind turbine.  We’ve looked at it a lot lately, since the metal building is right next to it in the field that is right outside our gate.  To digress a bit, whoever cut up this property did a crazy job of it!  There are three properties down by the end of the peninsula, ours has the largest amount of land, but half of it is a field, then there’s our neighbor’s property, then the other half of ours is on the water.  We fenced in the area on the water where we are building the house (and where the garage and crab shack have already been built) but the field was just sitting there, really kind of wasted space. We decided to put the wind turbine there, mostly because it was out of our and our neighbors’ way.  So then, of course, we decided to put the metal building over there and eventually we hope to put some solar panels out there also.

This was when we first had it installed

This was when we first had it installed

Our windmill is a Bergey.  Bergey Windpower is the oldest and most experienced manufacturer of residential-sized wind turbines in the world.  John told me it makes about 1200 kw, which is more than we use right now down there.  Of course, after July, when we’re in the Crab Shack full-time we may use more, but paying a $20 electric bill is a lot better than a $200 electric bill! (and dare I say…a $400 electric bill!!)  And now, since we sometimes don’t use as much electricity as the windmill makes, we get a check back from the electric company!  This month they sent us $93!  Once the house is built, and the pool operational, our bill will be higher, but we’re expecting with the solar panels and the geo-thermal system, they will be quite reasonable.

We were getting the pad ready for the metal building

We were getting the pad ready for the metal building

The cost of the turbine is pretty high as you would imagine. They can run from $30K to $70K for a residential model.  We had a lot of cable to run since it was far from the transformer, which is in our garage.  And we put it up 100 feet, instead of 80, which is what a nearby family had.  So of course, that added to the cost.    You do get money back from the state, at least we did, and the federal government gives you tax breaks, so that helps to offset the cost.  John and I thought we would see a return on our investment in about six years, but it turns out it will be more like ten to twelve years.  But we’re still very happy with it.

The blades are 22 feet long each and weigh about 600 lbs. total!

The blades are 22 feet long each and weigh about 600 lbs. total!

One thing we were pretty happy about is that it is not really too loud!  It does hum when there are really strong winds, but of course the wind itself is noisy then.  Usually you don’t hear it at all, I guess because it’s so high up, and it turns kind of gently.  It turns itself towards the wind, and believe me, down there, the winds can come from every direction and turn rather quickly.  We’re very glad we decided to make the investment.  And being a little greener makes us happy too.

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Keeping Things Cool



This is the story of how crazy I’m making myself trying to decide on a refrigerator.  It’s just so difficult, especially for someone who likes to do a lot of research and comparisons.  And if you start reading the reviews….forget it!  There are as many negative reviews as there are positive for every single brand.


Jenn-Air either has the dispenser or the panel overlay, but not both in the 48″

There are a few things I have already decided.   Okay, I already know I want a built-in fridge, and I also know I want a side by side.  I know many people don’t like the side by side, and there are a lot of you who love the freezer on the bottom, what I consider “the new style.”  However, I have that style in the Crab Shack, and as I suspected, I don’t like it.  For me, I don’t like bending down and rummaging through what ultimately becomes a mess of items. My hands get too cold.   I like the entire side to be freezer, plus even though your argument against the side by side is the narrowness of the freezer, we will have a second (albeit cheaper) fridge in the garage for overflow, and that will probably have the old-fashioned freezer on the top.  Or we will have a small stand alone freezer like we have here in our basement and either option will solve that issue.


Dacor also has either the panel-ready door or the water dispenser, not both

Okay, so two decisions down, easy, right?  Nope.  Still so much to decide!  You probably remember me saying I don’t like stainless.  And that’s really because of the fingerprints.  I hate looking at them, and I would hate having to clean that giant appliance all the time.  So it would have to be the smudge-proof stainless, and not too many are made in that size. So my number one choice would be to have a “panel ready” fridge that would match the cabinets.  Which is fine because I love that design.  I love it so much I have it now!  I have white cabinets and I have a white cabinet covered KitchenAid Refrigerator.  I’m happy with it, the problem is they don’t make the same one anymore with the front water dispenser.  I actually could live without the dispenser, you could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used it in 20 years. (Not the same fridge we purchased 20 years ago, although yes, the same model.) But John likes it and uses it often.



This is the model KitchenAid has now.  The handles are completely different, mine go from top to bottom and are white, and match the cabinets.  That was a big disappointment.  Not that it would have been my first choice maybe.  I probably would have liked something different.  But at least, I figured, I could always go back to this one if I couldn’t find something else.

I ruled out the Viking right off the bat, it had many, many, many terrible reviews, which was surprising for such a high-end appliance. I did give them a peek a while back though, they have a model that has a glass front, and there was one in a Sea Glass color.  It was just beautiful but I see now they don’t even make that color anymore.

There was one I’ve never heard of before, a Marvel.  Then I saw it was made by AGA, and I have heard of them. They can accept the panel, but they don’t have the water and ice dispenser.


Marvel by AGA

Marvel by AGA

One that has come pretty highly recommended is the Sub Zero.  I know two people who own them, and although they have had to do  repairs, they still love them.  Also, this brand has the water dispenser and will accept the panel overlay. Of course, with the price tag (let say $10,000 to $12,000 range) I’ll have to skimp somewhere else to afford it!

Sub Zero

Sub Zero

The last one I think I will be considering is the GE Monogram.  This model does accept the panels, and has the dispenser, the main thing I don’t like about it is the handles.  I’d prefer the ones that go from top to bottom, or at least most of the way.  These are a little skimpy looking to me.

GE Monogram

GE Monogram

Okay then, the last feature I would like to have is the Energy Star rating.  We are going a little more green now that we are building, we have a wind turbine, we will incorporate some solar, and having Energy Star appliances fits right in, besides the fact that they will save us money.  The GE is Energy Star rated, but the Sub Zero in that configuration is not!

It looks like from my research, and from laying all the facts out here, the GE Monogram will be the way to go.  However, if you knew me, you’d know I’m not done looking.  I may just start looking at the 42 inch refrigerators now to see what I come up with. See how I drive myself crazy?

If you own any of these brands and want to weigh in, I’d love to hear what you like or dislike about them.  Have you ever had to repair it?  How was it dealing with the customer service department? Do you mind cleaning the stainless, or do you recommend the smudge-proof kind?  Save me from myself and send me some info!  I’d appreciate it!

Modular Construction Part 2



We may, just may, be getting closer to getting our metal building built!  Hooray!  The “pad” is ready now, and a part of the building has been delivered.  They tried to deliver the whole thing, but the truck was too big to make the turn into our driveway and they had to take it back to the main store.  So now they have to deliver it in different loads, but hey, it’s progress!  We’ll be down there over the weekend, and we are hoping they’ll be able to start while we’re there.  We’re very optimistic people.

The "pad" for the metal building

The “pad” for the metal building


So, last time I talked about Modular Construction, I included an article explaining what it is, how it’s different from a “stick built” home, and the pros and cons.  You’d think I was working for a modular construction firm.  What I’m really trying to do is figure out of this is a viable alternative to building the entire house from scratch, or if we can incorporate at least “some” modular sections.

Now I’ve heard another term in addition to modular  -  panelized!  It’s similar to modular in that it is built off-site, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, it’s “a construction technique that uses advanced technology, quality materials and a controlled work environment to build floor, wall and roof systems to construct an energy-efficient home in less time.”

Picture from

Picture from

It sounds like the walls, and floors and the roof are built off-site, just like the modular homes, but instead of being trucked down in “modules” or whole components, it is trucked in “panels”. For now, it seems the most common use of these panelized firms is for the pre-building of floor and roof trusses.  Now that we realize the truck hauling the metal building couldn’t make it down our driveway, we might have to use a panelized construction firm instead of a modular one if we want to do part of our house this way!  I have yet to figure out, however, if they would be able to construct panels according to plans that I have, rather than having to use plans that they offer.  They do say they can customize the plans they offer, but we already have our plans.

Picture from

Picture from

There are panelized firms, according to Design Basics LLC. that will help you through the entire building process, but many whose involvement ends with the delivery of the materials.  Other manufacturers will provide a small crew and a crane to help your general contractor.

Picture from

Picture from

picture from

Picture from

Our previous builder, who, as you know, moved away and left us, would be able to find all this out, as he already dealt with a modular builder and incorporated even just parts of the house the modular way if you wanted.  He was very flexible and I guess he had a good relationship with that company, so he didn’t have to buy the “whole” house.  He would, I know, find out about these panel manufacturers and let us know if this was a viable way to go.  I wish he’d move back to Maryland.

Picture from

Picture from

I’ll be looking more into both these options and will report back.  In the meantime, if anyone has any experience with either the modular or panelized type of building, please let us know!  We’d love to hear anything about it from the consumer’s point of view!

Mistakes to Avoid When Building a House



As you know, we are going to be building our dream home.  It’s also our retirement home.  We are not, however,  following the usual “guidelines” for a retirement home, mostly because it’s going to be bigger than any home we’ve ever lived in.  Most people downsize.  We’re going the other way.  But as you look at the property, you can understand why.  It’s a big piece of land, it’s actually more of a “compound” at this point since the buildings are so spread out.  Most of our family and friends won’t be living nearby, and when people visit they’ll be staying over.  And we wanted to prepare for that.  We also like to have a yearly Bocce Party.  And that includes many, many family members and friends.  So, believe it or not, we also wanted to prepare for that. Plus on holidays we’ll have company that will stay over.  There’s been a lot of planning, and designing, and changing of plans so far, and we haven’t even started on the house yet!

Here's our split level house

Here’s our split level house

I saw an interesting article a while ago on  Have you checked out their site yet?  It’s an amazing site for anyone interested in building, designing or renovating.  It talked about mistakes people make when building a house.  We all spend a lot of time figuring out what we want and need, but do we look at it from the other angle?  What we really don’t need?  Of course budget usually leads the way, the money dictates not only the size of the house, but how upgraded it can be.  So planning for what you need AND what you don’t need is very important.  Here are some examples:

1.  Don’t over build or under build your HVAC system.

You could wind up with moisture and mold growth! Also, if your system is too small it won’t perform properly and your house will be too cold in the winter, and too warm in the summer.  On the other hand, if your system is too large, you will utilize too much energy and waste money when you don’t need to.

This was our house in PA

This was our house in PA

2.  Poor Space Planning and Overall Planning

The design and space planning of a house is very, very important.  You need to look at how you really live. We all need storage space, so you want to have enough, but you don’t want to build in so much that you take away floor space that could be better utilized as living space. Will you primarily come in the back door?  Maybe that’s where the coat closets should be, instead of at the front door. Also, you need to take your lifestyle and habits into consideration.  Will you need safety features as you’re getting older.  Will you have grandchildren often in the house?  Do you need safety features in place for that?  How about stairs, bathrooms?  Will you have guests often?  Placement of bathrooms becomes very important when you think about it this way.

This is the house I grew up in, and the people changed it so much it looks NOTHING like it used to!

This is the house I grew up in, and the people changed it so much it looks NOTHING like it used to! And where did that fire hydrant come from?

3.  Poor lighting

There should be plenty of light fixtures and outlets.  And also plenty of windows!  Natural light should be the main source of light, but having a well-lit home, especially as we age, is also extremely important.

4.  Under utilized rooms

Having a game room or a home-theater room sounds like a fun idea.  But how often will you use it?  If you are buying a home that has a game room or a theater room already -  and we see these often on House Hunters on HGTV – that’s one thing.  But when you are building a home, especially a retirement home, every square foot counts.  And paying $150 to $200 a square foot brings you to the reality that these rooms would be used a few times a year and might not be worth what they cost.  Now maybe for some of you, it will be worth it.  But that’s what you have to decide ahead a time.  I was thinking I’d want an exercise room in our new home.  But the reality is with all the other spaces that I really wanted – a large pantry, a mudroom, a laundry room, an office for John and a separate one for me, and a craft room – the exercise room just became one room too many.

The house John grew up in.  Also looks completely different now.  Better than mine looks though!

The house John grew up in. Also looks completely different now. Better than mine looks though!

5. Placement of your Laundry Room, the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen and the Garage.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but in every house I’ve lived in these rooms were not strategically placed.  I’ve never had a “real” laundry room, and I usually have had to carry laundry up and down several sets of stairs to the basement.  I’m in a split-level right now, so it’s three sets of stairs!

Our bedroom – in the many homes we’ve lived in – has usually been upstairs like ours is right now.  It is also just above the garage, so it is not only frequently noisy if the garage is opened, but it is somewhat  very cold.  In our new home, of course, the master will be on the main floor, but we want to place it as far away from the noise and traffic as possible.

The kitchen/garage placement is extremely important.  These days I’ve mostly seen it placed correctly, the kitchen is off the mudroom and/or off the garage.  That’s how our new one will be.  But yet, there have been places we’ve lived where the kitchen was not near the garage, and carrying groceries in was not all that convenient   a real pain.

This house, by architect Dan Sater, is what we'd like our new house to resemble.

This house, by architect Dan Sater, is what we’d like our new house to resemble.

These are just a few ideas to think about when you are planning to build your dream home.  And while it’s very important to discuss all these issues with the professionals you hire as your “team” – it is more important for you to decide what YOU need and don’t need.

Modular Construction



We are in the middle of construction here at our house in New Jersey.  We’re still shooting for an early May target date to put the house on the market and move to the Crab Shack while it is being shown.  We hope to have most of our belongings packed up and moved to the garage in Maryland, not to leave house empty, but to de-clutter and save ourselves all the packing and moving in a rush when the house is sold.

Then, in the middle of all this mess in the house, and having only one working bathroom, my daughter came home from VA for two days. She took off from work so we could go to “Media Day” on Tuesday and Super Bowl Boulevard on Wednesday!  Did I mention I’m not really a football fan?  But she and John are, and my son is somewhat of a fan, at least more than I am, but three of us are Peyton Manning fans.  (Jackson’s rooting for Seattle. Puh!)

So anyway, I want to start talking about modular construction.  This will probably take up a few posts, and I hope I will hear from you about it — if you have a modular home, or know someone who does,  know nothing about it, or even if you would never consider building this way. I’m very interested to hear all sides of this debate.

Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes

Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes

Here’s an article introducing you to the modular design, originally written on Fresh Home (

10 Basic Facts You Should Know About Modular Homes

What is a Modular Home?

A modular home is one that is built indoors in a factory-like setting. The finished products are covered and transported to their new locations where they will be assembled by a builder. A modular home is not a mobile home; it is simply a home that is built off-site as opposed to on-site. These homes are often called factory-built homes, system-built  or pre-fab homes.  Modular and Manufactured homes are NOT the same. Manufactured homes are not placed on permanent foundations. Manufactured homes, sometimes referred to as mobile homes, but are not always mobile homes, can be moved from one location to another. There are specific laws and regulations regarding these relocations.  Thanks to publications such as Dwell, the popularity of the modular home is growing.

Pinecrest Modular Homes (Long Island Modular Homes)

Pinecrest Modular Homes
(Long Island Modular Homes)

How do Modular Homes Differ from Houses Built On-Site?

Because modular homes are built indoors they can be completed in a matter of a few weeks as opposed to months. These home constructions do not see the typical on-site delays that are predominantly caused by the weather. Modular homes must conform to specific rules, guidelines and building codes that often surpass those of traditional on-site homes. However, it is important to shop around. Not all companies that make factory-built homes are alike. There can be significant differences in quality, price and service.  As with purchasing or building any home, it is crucial to do your research.

Modular Home Facts

  • Modular homes appraise the same as their on-site built counterparts do. They do not depreciate in value.
  • Modular homes can be customized.
  • Most modular home companies have their own in-house engineering departments that utilize CAD (Computer Aided Design).
  • Modular home designs vary in style and size.
  • Modular construction can also be used for commercial applications including office buildings.
  • Modular homes are permanent structures – “real property.”
  • Modular homes can be built on the following on crawl spaces and basements.
  • Modular homes are considered a form of “Green Building.”
  • Modular homes are faster to build than a 100% site-built home.
  • Home loans for modular are the same as if buying a 100% site-built home.
  • Insuring your modular home is the same as a 100% site-built home.
  • Taxes on a modular home are the same as 100% site-built home.
  • Modular homes can be built to withstand 175 mph winds.
  • Modular homes can be built for accessible living and designed for future conveniences.


Do All Modular Homes Look Alike?

Contrary to popular misconception, modular homes do not all look alike. Modular homes have no design limitations. You can create any modular style home you wish from a traditional center hall colonial to one that is Mediterranean in style.  You can add any style window or architectural detail that you desire. Nearly all host plans can be turned into modular homes, and you can therefore create your “dream home.”

How is a Modular Home Assembled?

A factory-built home starts out as sections that have already been built in a climate controlled area. The finished sections are transported to the building site and then assembled with giant cranes. This process quite resembles a child building with Lego blocks. Modular homes cannot be moved after they have been placed and set on to their foundations. It is important to talk to your manufacturer as each manufacturer operates with a different set of guidelines. If you are designing your own home, it is important that you ask very specific questions. Modular homes offer hundreds of personalized features that include but are not limited to: ceramic floors, solid surface countertops, various cabinet styles and wood species, exterior finishes, plumbing fixtures, etc. You can, essentially, customize your own home.

Westchester Modular Homes of Greater Boston, Inc.

Westchester Modular Homes of Greater Boston, Inc.

Are Modular Homes More or Less Expensive than Those Built On Site?

Pre-fab homes can typically save you quite a bit of money.  Because they are constructed in a factory they can be built fairly quickly, a matter of weeks as opposed to months, which can be quite significant. The reason for this is that there are no extreme weather delays. Furthermore all inspections are performed at the factories during each phase of construction by a third-party inspector, and are completed before the homes are transported to their new locations.

It is important to note, however, the more complex the design and specs, the more money your home will cost you. Other factors to consider such as electricity, plumbing, duct-work are often not factored into the initial pricing, so your final cost may be 20% more than what the builder is quoting you. You may need to install a septic system, install natural gas or a basement, these too will add to your bottom line.

Quality Crafted Homes (a division of Custom Modular Homes of Long Island)

Quality Crafted Homes
(a division of Custom Modular Homes of Long Island)

What are the Benefits of Owning a Modular Home?

Modular homes can be more affordable. Their shorter build time will save you money on the overall construction. Home inspections are not needed as these are all done in factory. They are much more energy-efficient, therefore your monthly expenses will be substantially less. Modular homes are environmentally friendly due to their efficiency. There are a great variety of homes from which to choose, there are many top architects that specialize in designing modular homes. As with any home, modular homes can be built on to and expanded.

A homeowner must own the land onto which the home will reside. In many cases one may end up spending upwards of $100,000 just for the land. Unlike regular homes, the lots cannot be built on subdivisions. The initial fees can be cost prohibitive for some. When building a modular home the builder must be paid first, and in full, before the process has begun or has been completed. You will need to use your savings or get a special construction loan.

This loan is valid for one year and when the work is completed the dealer will pay the loan, then a traditional mortgage will be issued. It is therefore important that you know your budget and shop around. It is important that the rules I have mentioned here apply to US residents. If you live in Canada or in Europe you will need to check your country’s guidelines.

It’s all very interesting, I think, and definitely something to consider.  I’ll be back to this discussion again, and I hope I’ll hear from you whether you’d consider building this way or not.


Kitchen Backsplashes



While there is still nothing going on metal building-wise (formal permit still not received)  – I’ve been thinking about designing my new kitchen.  This is one of my favorite things to do, especially since I do not make decisions quickly.  I like to think about it, make a “faux” decision, live with it for a while, then change my mind.  This method works for me, even if in the past it has sometimes driven John crazy.  He’s learned now, after 30 some years, that this is just the way I’m wired.  I mean really, this is something I’m going to have to live with for a long time.  I certainly don’t want to make the wrong decision.  And you might say there is no “wrong” decision because all the backsplashes that I’m looking at are pretty.  And yes, you would be right.  But I’d still hate to think, “I wish I picked the other one.”  So it’s good I have lots of time to decide. Here are some ideas:

This was the first one I fell in love with

This was the first one I fell in love with

I really like flowers, and I figured, since I can look out the window at a water scene, I’d go with flowers.  And blue hydrangeas are so pretty.  But I’m not really crazy about the basket.  I’m thinking now I’ll have a blue kitchen (with white cabinets) so this would go with it.  But then again…….   (this is the story of my life).

This one also has the basket, but a more neutral white flower:

Same basket though

Maybe not enough color

I do like the “raised” flower, it’s kind of interesting.  But then, will it be harder to clean?  You know how greasy it can get behind the cook top!

These are also pretty:

Backsplash picture5

I like these dogwoods, and it doesn’t have the basket but it is kind of small.  My cook top is going to be big, I’m thinking 48″, so this would look tiny behind it.

I like poppies, and these red flowers would be fun with a blue kitchen. It’s not a mosaic, but it’s not tiles either:


It’s also kind of cute with the shutters on the sides.  I like this one a lot!  This one is a real contender.   There is also a picture of poppies in a field, you may have seen it on Pinterest or somewhere.  If I was going to have somebody custom make a backsplash, this might be nice:


I could go with a blue crab, Maryland is famous for them.  But I think I’d get tired of this pretty quickly.  They did a nice job with it though.

Blue crab

Blue crab

There are other flower types that I gave a little thought to, but I realize now when I look at them, I just don’t see myself choosing them.


Backsplash picture3backsplash picture2Backsplash picture1

They are all very pretty, especially that last one, so I still go back and forth about it.

I did a mosaic of a blue heron once.  We have them in our cove occasionally and Jon and I really like them.  But the crab shack has a tile backsplash of herons (not mosaic) and I would need to get somebody to custom make it.  I don’t know how to make a backsplash.

Here's the picture I did

Here’s the picture I did

And here’s the one from the crab shack:

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 496

I don’t think I want to go with regular size tiles.  There are a lot more pictures to choose from in tiles though, that’s the plus side.  And truthfully, full size tiles would probably be easier to clean.  Now I’m talking myself into them.  You can see how I go back and forth!  Here’s another one with tile:


It’s kind of pretty, you see a lot of the Italian countryside done up with the regular tiles.  I don’t know if it really goes with a house on the water in Maryland though.

Then I found a picture of a boat on the water.  And like I said before, I do see the water out my window.  But it’s really pretty and if I was going to have to have someone make this, I could put our boat in the picture.  That would be interesting!


So many choices!  Too many!  It’s good I have a long time to make this decision because this is going to be a hard one to make.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do you have a decorative backsplash?  Tile?  Mosaic?  Is it easy or hard to clean and do you get tired of looking at the same picture all the time?  I’d love to hear your opinions.