When it comes to homebuilding, “modular” and “custom” are rarely used in the same sentence. One 4,500-square-foot exception now exists in Penn Valley. It’s the first custom modular home built in Lower Merion Township, and perhaps the first on the Main Line. “This isn’t your mother’s modular,” says Pete Maruca, whose Ardmore-based Orion General Contractors oversaw its installation. “No one can tell the difference between this and a traditionally built home.”
Maruca is convinced that prefab is the future of home construction. “It’s likely to take over conventionally framed housing within the next 10 to 15 years,” he predicts.
Built in Scranton by Simplex Homes, the modules that make up the Penn Valley home include the rooms for the main house and a semi-detached two-car garage with an in-law suite on top. They arrived at the site on 15 flatbed trucks and were installed during a two-day period.
One of the benefits of choosing modular is speed. “Typically, a [regular] home could take eight to 10 months,” says Maruca. “A modular takes four to six.”
Maruca will also vouch for the quality of the construction. “I’m convinced that you can build a better house indoors because you’re not subjected to the elements,” he says. “You can build almost from the inside out, because you don’t have to worry about weatherproofing everything.”
Modular can also be a greener way to build. “If 90 percent of your house is built in a factory, then dropped on-site all at once, there are [far] fewer trips back and forth between subcontractors,” says Maruca.
Alas, for now, modular isn’t much of a money-saver. “When it comes to cost, there isn’t a significant savings between pre-fabricated building and traditional, but the other benefits make it well worth it,” Maruca says.