Modular homes make debut in St. John Parish

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Staff Reporter

GARYVILLE- The newest products in housing market choices are making their home in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Modular homes made their first appearance in St. John Parish last week as Fuqua Homes, located in Booneville, Missouri put its first modular home on a land site in Garyville. The home is located at 311 Historic East and it will boast a sound structure that exceeds building code inspection standards.

The home is 1360 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths. The emergence of this new type of home in the River Region was made possible by many different companies. It is the first modular home to be built in St. John Parish.

D&J Developers, owned by Butch Dahl, approached Fuqua Homes with a proposition to put their homes on four sites his company selected to introduce the modular homes to the region.

&#8220We chose to approach Fuqua Homes after research suggested that the market demand was high for new homes. While searching for a product, we saw that Fuqua Homes offered affordable high-quality homes. In the River Parishes we just can’t build homes fast enough. The turnaround for modular homes is 45- 60 days compared to a year or more for regular stick-built homes,” Dahl said.

Dahl said that most homes are ready for habitation in less than two weeks upon placement of the home and that the main delays are usually caused due to problems getting the buildings from the factory to the intended site.

Latter & Blum hosted an event in which the public was invited to attend the installation of the home, which took place in less than eight hours.

The day started with just a foundation block and then cinder blocks were added and later the two pieces of the home were picked up by a crane, swung overhead and placed onto the foundation.

&#8220The purpose of the event was to inform people of the advantages of modular housing. There is a stigma that modular homes are just glorified trailers and that is certainly not the case,” said Wendy Benedetto of Latter & Blum.

Benedetto will be the real estate agent responsible for selling the new modular style houses. Benedetto said that the option to purchase a modular home is not necessarily cheaper, but that it is a quicker and more efficient way to buy a home. The homes are fully customizable.

&#8220The demand for housing is immense in this region and I believe the modular houses will offer a great alternative to traditional housing. I really believe that people will be receptive to them and want to buy them once they know more about them,” Benedetto said.

Doug Johnson, the project manager for the placement and construction of the homes said the major differences between trailer and modular housing is the mobility and quality.

&#8220Once a modular home is in place, it cannot be moved. There are no steel beams with wheels attached. After they are placed on the foundation, the homes are strapped, bolted and concrete-sealed into place,” Johnson said.

Johnson said one of the challenges that the company faced was how to permit the homes.

&#8220The parish had no experience with this kind of housing so they didn’t know how to permit it, but in the end it was permitted as a permanent structure,” he said.

The houses can sustain winds of up 130 miles per hour and the walls are made with strong 2 X 6 beams, plywood and sheetrock. The width is equivalent to standard homes built on site.

Modular homes are made in a factory and then transported to the homesite. They can be modified for multifamily or two-story units.

Lenders and mortgage companies are also responsive to the new homes. Omni Bank has agreed to provide the funds for people interested in purchasing modular houses. Choice title International will be handling titling.

Walt Herschede of Essential Mortgage Company said, &#8220Modular homes are the wave of the future.”