Custom Home Construction Schedule: Stick Building vs. Modular

Posted by Jamie Kline on Oct 13, 2020 8:00:00 AM
Jamie Kline
Custom Home Construction Schedule

Building a custom home is an exciting process. 

From coming up with a design you love to opening the door of your newly completed home for the first time, watching your home become reality is something you’ll always remember.   

But homes aren’t built overnight. Custom-built home construction is indeed a process, and it takes time.

Let’s explore the custom home construction schedule for two common building methods: stick building vs. modular home construction.  



Stick-Built Custom Home Construction Schedule

When most people think about the actual process of home construction, stick building is likely what comes to mind. 

That’s because stick building is the traditional method of home construction. It’s also the most common. 

For those unfamiliar with the term, stick building is literally constructing a home on-site from the ground up. Since it’s built from scratch, the homeowner can fully customize their next house. 

On average, a stick-built home takes 3-6 months to construct.This timeframe does not include the off-site construction elements -- which can push your move-in date back months -- such as:

  • Finding a suitable lot
  • Obtaining permits
  • Design 
  • Site prep 

From start to finish, a stick-built home takes 7-13 months to complete on average. 

The Trouble With Stick-Built Home Lead Times

Constructing a stick-built home is all about scheduling and preparing for any issues that may come up. 

With everything being built on-site and multiple contractors and trade workers (think: electricians and plumbers), there’s plenty of room for scheduling snafus. 

A setback in any step of the process impacts those that follow.  

For instance, if a material shipment doesn’t arrive when expected, other elements of the home’s construction may be moved to the back burner. Some construction materials have longer lead times that might not sync with your schedule. 

And what happens when a hired specialty contractor doesn’t show? Likely a delay. And if there’s bad weather early in the construction process, it might be a few days before crews resume work because the structure isn’t weather-tight. 

These delays cost you more than just time. The longer it takes to build your home, the more your contractor may charge you to make up for any lost income from other jobs. 

It’s also important to remember that you’re at the mercy of your contractor with the overall quality of your home. If the schedule didn’t go as planned during construction season and the contractor is facing an early winter, it may sacrifice craftsmanship to finish building your house. 


Modular Custom Home Construction Schedule

A faster construction method than stick building, modular homes take 2-3 months to build on-site. 

Let’s assume you have all your ducks in a row:

  • You have all the proper permits
  • Your home’s site is ready to go
  • You’ve selected a floor plan from your contractor’s catalog with no customization 

Work to build your modular home begins indoors. Once a design is agreed upon, your modular home company starts building large, finished components of your home in a factory, a process that takes around 6 weeks to complete. When everything is ready, sections of your home are shipped to the construction site and put together. 

If everything goes according to plan, you’ll be in your modular home in less than a year. 


When Modular Homes Take Longer to Build 

Like stick-built homes, modular homes are also subject to plenty of delays. 

In modular home timelines, however, delays occur before actual work begins on your lot. 

Permitting and site prep aside, some of the most common delays are rooted in customization.

Modular homes are not meant to be drastically customized. While your modular home dealer may offer you some options, such as color choices or a selection of fixtures, they’re not going to jump at creating a new floor plan. 

When a modular home builder has to deviate from standard plans, it requires significant design work and adjusting manufacturing processes -- something that’s not always possible

That’s not to say that a modular home can’t be customized. It can. It’s just going to cost you more money and time.

At this point, it may be more cost effective to look into stick building … or perhaps even a panel-built house.


Stick Building Vs. Modular Home Construction: Weighing Speed Against Preference

While both custom home building methods ultimately end with your finished new home, there are two major trade-offs between the two.  

While modular homes are faster to build -- even if by just a few months -- you give up the customization freedoms stick-built homes offer. On the same token, opting for the design flexibility of stick-built homes increases the chance of delays for any number of reasons, such as bad weather. 

Though it’s exciting to watch your home go from the drawing board to reality, the #1 thing for any custom home construction schedule: patience

Panelized home construction combines building efficiency with full customization 

Explore what a panel-built home’s construction timeline looks like in our Custom Home Building Checklist:


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Topics: Custom Home, Resources, Panel Vs. Modular Home Construction, Construction Timeline

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