Modular Home Builders Of NJ

NJ Modular Home company gets second wind from Hurricane Sandy

By KEVIN POST, Business Editor

Press of Atlantic City

A big economic storm drove Patty Hydock from the modular home business. A big hurricane brought her back into it.

Hydock, of Egg Harbor City, had 11 good years of buying lots, putting factory-built houses on them and selling them.

Then the housing bubble collapsed and, figuring she couldn’t compete with the huge wave of foreclosures it brought, she shut down her company in 2006.

Six years later, that man-made U.S. disaster was followed by a natural one along the Northeast coast: Hurricane Sandy.

“We attended a trade show the January after Sandy hit, and I spoke with another modular home company owner. She said, ‘Patty, you ought to get back into the business,’” Hydock said.

The hurricane had created a tremendous need to replace storm-damaged houses along the New Jersey coast, making a different and better business model available for modular home sellers.

“I didn’t have to buy the land as I was doing before. People already owned the land,” she said. “I didn’t need to build houses on spec.”

After a year of preparation, Hydock relaunched Jersey Coast Modular Homes at the start of this year.

She re-enters a market that has been depleted by the ongoing housing slump.

The number of builders of new housing in Atlantic County has been cut in half, from eight in 2008 to just four last year, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Jersey Coast Modular Homes offers a variety of house styles — ranchers, Cape Cods, two-story — built in sections at two manufacturers in Pennsylvania, Hydock said.

The homes are custom built. Buyers can bring their own plans or use the companies’ plans, which can be seen online at www.jerseycoastmodularhomes.com.

The home-buying process starts at Hydock’s showroom in the front of her Victorian home in Egg Harbor City, where buyers consider options such as baseline- to high-end cabinetry, counter tops, fixtures, flooring and siding.

For those who live along the shore from Ocean County north, she said, she offers a free consultation at their location.

“We make sure that the house will fit on their lot first. We ask them to supply a plot plan,” she said.

The elevation of the house is up to the homeowner, but she encourages buyers not to think of elevations required by flood insurance as a problem. “It’s giving them space under the house for a one- or two-car garage, which makes for a nice design.”

Once the construction permits are secured — usually the slowest part of the process, she said — manufacturing the home modules in the factory takes six to eight weeks. The whole process is usually done in about four months.

Modular home prices typically range from $150,000 to $300,000, she said. The online sites for her two manufacturers — Excel Homes and Icon Legacy Custom Modular Homes — offers houses ranging from about 1,000 square feet up to a palatial 5,000-plus square feet.

Hydock’s company offers two basic options for taking delivery of the houses.

With the deliver-and-set option, her crew comes with a crane, sets the house on the buyer’s foundation, lifts the roof into place and installs shingles. The homeowner arranges their siding, electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning.

The turnkey option includes building the foundation, all finish work and utility connections, and comes with a 10-year N.J. Homeowner Warranty.

An interesting new option with the company’s modular homes is Eco Red Shield, a coating for the framing, joist, exterior trim and plywood lumber that “controls the moisture in lumber and protects the lumber from mold, wood-rot, termites and fire for the life of your home,” according to the California-based company.

That should be appealing to people replacing flood damaged homes, Hydock said. Both factories are pursuing certification in the Eco Red Shield process.

She said the protection will cost an extra $5,000 to $10,000.

Hydock said she found out about the protected lumber from a buyer of one of her homes for a property in South Amboy, Middlesex County.

She is building a home on a property on Melbourne Avenue in Ventnor, where an existing house was demolished in preparation for the delivery of the manufactured two-story home, probably next month.

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