Pittsburgh Modular New Home Builder

Remodeling and Home Design
The Smart Home Builders
Passive House Builder
Energy Star Partner
1-800-274-6198

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Frequently Asked Home Construction Questions

Questions By Category

Cost / Financing

How much does an EcoCraft home cost?

EcoCraft Homes start at $200,000 and can go up to $1 million. Take a look at our floor plans to see what sort of space you need. In general, smaller homes cost less but cost is dependent upon a variety of factors including site conditions, access to utilities, materials specifications, schedule, etc.



What is included in the cost?

Our costs typically include everything – basic excavation, unfinished basement, walls, roof, finishes, plumbing, electrical, appliances, delivery, installation, and finish within about 60 miles of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We also have an owner/builder program for customers outside of our typical service radius.



What is the cost per square foot?

The cost per square foot varies from room to room and project to project. At the low end, we can build for around $125 per square foot and it goes up from there.



How does modular cost compare with on-site construction?

It depends. When modular construction is considered upfront during schematic design, factory efficiencies can be realized. These efficiencies often lead to cost savings and a better overall value for our home owners. Both modular and stick-built homes are built to the same construction codes, and when comparing similar homes and specifications, modular construction is normally the better value. Just like with stick construction, our homes are highly customizable and finishing costs can vary widely depending on selections for flooring, cabinetry, windows, etc.



Is there any way to save costs?

In construction, you get what you pay for. Our homes are designed and built to the highest level of quality and efficiency, and in these areas we refuse to compromise. That said, we have predesigned plans that take full advantage of our factory efficiencies and they can be built for less than our custom home plans. Another way to save costs can be taking on a portion of the project scope through our owner/builder program. In many ways you are in control of the pricing and by selecting less expensive finish materials, you can keep project costs in check. We do not compromise on our wall construction and every EcoCraft Home is built to the same quality, energy, and durability standards.



Can the homeowner do any of the work to save money?

Sometimes, yes. Our building process could lend itself to a homeowner completing some of the work -- Depending on your experience and project complexity -- such as flooring, foundations, electrical, plumbing, and finished carpentry. Our homes are about 85 percent complete when they reach the site. We’re flexible, but we want to make sure that a detailed scope of work assigning responsibilities is developed.



What factors can affect the final price of an EcoCraft home?

From the starting price, a project’s cost can be influenced by location (distance from the factory, local labor costs), site (steep, wooded, wet, urban, rural, rocky?), your desired design, materials and finishes, and a “rush” job or mid-winter construction.



Is financing a modular home different than a home built entirely on-site home?

No. Modular homes are financed with conventional mortgages, the same as stick-built on-site homes. We do recommend a lender who is familiar with the modular building process. Contact us for contact information.



Design / Customization

What styles are available?

Modular construction offers fully customized spaces for any architectural style, both inside and out. We have our own in-house design team that can help you realize your dream home from scratch, or for really specialized projects we have a network of local architects who specialize in modular designs.



Is it possible to create a custom design or customize an existing design?

Yes to both! Our floor plans are starting points for most of our clients. Staying within pre-designed plans does help minimize design and engineering costs. We work closely with our clients to ensure that a chosen plan will work well for you AND for your site. If you can dream it, we can build it our process is flexible and we adapt to your needs.



Should your home have a basement?

It usually depends on your site, balanced against your needs and budget. EcoCraft creates foundations and basements that are dry and comfortable by installing prefabricated, insulated concrete panels. When the basement is formed, the precast, insulated concrete panels are set first and then the slab is poured. This system provides a higher quality basement/foundation than conventional cinder block.

Another foundation option we offer our clients that can reduce the cost of excavation and site development is a pier foundation system. Simple, adaptable, and strong these piers are carefully designed to support the modular structure. Whatever foundation system we use, it is high performance, energy efficient.



Can EcoCraft build additions?

Yes, we can add on to existing homes. We would look at your existing home to ensure the site conditions where you want to expand are favorable. We would also help you determine the best type of foundation such as slab-on-grade, foundation with crawl space, pin foundation, or basement. As the addition module (s) would be shipped on a truck, we would also ensure there’s adequate space (driveway or yard or neighboring space) for the truck, as well as space for a crane to lift the module onto the foundation.



Can EcoCraft build a tiny house or a granny flat?

Yes, we can build small homes. We can use an existing design or create one and easily adapt it to the modular process. To keep it affordable, we would probably stay within a 16’ maximum width so it could be built and shipped in one module.



Site / Lot

Will EcoCraft do a site evaluation?

We handle in-person site evaluations on a case-by-case basis. Since one of EcoCraft’s primary objectives is to contain costs, we have to be convinced of the value of a site visit before committing to one. For straightforward sites, a topographic survey and photographs may provide us with the information we need to design the home and locate it appropriately on the site. For more complex sites, a visit from one of our designers or project managers may be warranted.



What does EcoCraft need to build on a given site?

We would bring the module in on a big truck (tractor trailer), and therefore we need access to deliver it. Typically, we need a driveway or big yard that is drivable right adjacent to the house site and foundation. We also need space for the crane that lifts the module off the truck and places it on the foundation.



What if the site does not have sewer or other utilities?

We would put in a septic system for you; if there is a municipal sewer system, you can pay the fees to connect to it. For other utilities, it is cheaper if they come very close to your building site; connecting long distances to utilities can add substantial costs to your project.



What should I look for if we want a solar home?

Whether you want a passive or active solar home, ideally, you need to have a southern orientation. Therefore, your site needs to have a significant area that faces due south, without obstructions. For example, if you want photovoltaics on your roof to produce power, there should be no trees or buildings shading the roof. In a passive solar home, heat in winter is usually achieved with large south-facing windows that capture winter sun but are shaded in summer (with overhangs or deciduous trees). We can help you determine whether or not your site has good solar resources.



Construction Process

What level of quality can be expected from EcoCraft Homes?

We build the shell or building envelope using advanced framing (2X6) to create some of the most energy-efficient homes in the world. We use high quality materials for structure and finish, and our building materials are not exposed to inclement weather, so they retain their original integrity. Materials can vary depending on the client’s needs, wants and budget. Energy efficiency is a standard feature on every home – no compromises. Also, because of our structures are built indoors with state of the art equipment by highly specialized craftsmen, our quality is second to none.



Is there a warranty?

Yes, EcoCraft provides a 10-year structural warranty and 1-year cosmetic warranty. We also pass on to our homeowners any manufacturers’ warranties for certain products installed in your home.



What is the modular home building process?

Our modules are manufactured assembly-line-style by highly trained, coordinated technicians, in a climate-controlled factory which protects both the materials and the workers. We deliver the modules to the home site and lower them into place using a crane. The installation process can take as little as one day.



What is a typical timeline for building modular?

Modular: The normal timeframe is 3-4 months for turnkey projects. Because construction begins in a factory, we can begin site work such as the foundation simultaneously. Weather has little to no impact on the construction schedule once the home is set on the foundation.

Stick Built: The normal timeframe is 8-18 months for turnkey projects. Since all construction occurs on-site, projects are highly susceptible to weather and availability of on-site labor.



Can we see our home being built in the factory?

Yes. You can bring your family and friends to see your home being constructed in the factory, and even take photos.



How long does it take to build the home in the factory?

It is typically a four to six week process to complete the home in the factory.



Do EcoCraft Homes follow the same codes as stick-built on-site?

Our modular homes are built to 2012 Building codes which exceed the same building codes that apply to stick-built homes in PA, 2009 IRC.



Where does EcoCraft build?

We typically service areas in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, within a radius of about 60 miles. Sometimes, with special circumstances, we can build outside that radius. It depends on a number of factors - such as current construction backlog, availability of contractors in your area, access to your site, and other issues. We can fill you in with more details during a conversation and once we know where the lot is located.



Are EcoCraft Homes made locally?

Yes, our modules are manufactured in a factory located within 90 miles of Pittsburgh. We also use local contractors and local materials so that jobs stay in the Pittsburgh area.



What sizes are the modules?

The largest dimensions we can create/ship in one module would be a maximum 16’ width and 68’ length. On the truck, the largest modules reach about 14.5 feet in height. Weight varies per module; for example, the SEED classroom is about 18-20,000 pounds per section, but a larger module can be around 35,000 pounds. Our homes are about 85 percent complete when they reach the site. We finish the shell, flooring and most of the plumbing and electrical on-site.



How much do the modules weigh?

The weight of a fully-loaded trailer depends on the module size, so weight varies. For example, our SEED classroom is about 18-20,000 pounds per section, but a larger module can be around 35,000 pounds.



How are the modules assembled to create a house?

The time-lapse video of one of our homes being constructed in Bridgeville, PA, shows six modules being assembled together in one day, like a giant Lego project. We bring the modules to a site on a big flat-bed truck and then use a crane to lift each modules into place in a well-coordinated process. The modules are fastened together and finished on the site.



High Performance / Energy Savings

What makes EcoCraft homes high performance?

Our building envelopes (walls, roof, windows, and foundation) feature thick-wall construction with a minimum 1” of continuous exterior insulation. Our homes maximize performance by eliminating thermal bridges and sealing our homes up tight. By drastically reducing heating and cooling loads we can install smaller, more efficient HVAC systems at a lower cost than standard systems. Every home has a heat recovery ventilator that provides fresh air and improves air flow, as well as saves energy by further reducing heating and cooling requirements.



How is fresh air introduced into EcoCraft’s “tight” homes?

Because our homes are built so tight, there is very little natural ventilation through a leaky building envelope. To ensure exceptional indoor air quality, we install Energy Recovery Ventilators to bring fresh, filtered air into our homes for a healthy living environment.



What systems does EcoCraft use for heating and cooling its homes?

For heating, we use 98 percent-efficient, modulating, true variable speed equipment. These systems cost less to operate, and because they can ramp up or down to match the heating load precisely, they do not short cycle, which increases equipment lifecycle and drastically improves comfort. For our standard cooling system, we use air source heat pumps with VRF technology - the most efficient cooling technology available and with a SEER rating greater than 21.



Can my home have radiant floor heating or geothermal heating?

Your home could have geothermal or radiant floors but we do not recommend those systems for our high performance homes. Radiant floor heating systems are not ideal for high performance homes because they have a slow response time and they add expense. Geothermal systems are also not ideal or cost-effective for homes as efficient as EcoCraft builds.



Can my home have a fireplace?

Your home can have a fireplace but we do not recommend conventional fireplaces because they can backdraft in an air-tight home. Our homes are so comfortable that fireplaces become more of an aesthetic feature than a source of heat. We recommend considering other fireplaces such as sealed combustion or ethanol.



What sort of insulation is included?

We install un-faced fiberglass batts within the walls and floors, and blown fiberglass in the attics, along with spray foam insulation to seal air leaks. For improved indoor air quality, all insulation that we install has minimal additives. We also use rigid foam insulation on the exterior, under the siding. Most of our homes have what we call an “Energy Package,” that provides long-term energy efficiency using R-21 batts with R-5 or greater exterior foam, R-30 foundation wall, R-60 attic, plus an underslab foam option of 2” or 4” (R-10, or R-20).



Does EcoCraft employ raised heel trusses?

We build raised heel trusses in attics that drastically increase the amount of insulation that can be installed, particularly at the eaves where insulation space is the most limited. Our standard insulation package in attics is R-60 which is more than double required by code. In the attic the incremental costs of this additional insulation easily justifies the costs, and the raised heel trusses allows the insulation to be continuous, eliminating thermal bridging.



Green Building

Can EcoCraft’s homes certify as energy efficient, green buildings?

Yes. EcoCraft Homes has experience as a certified Passive House builder, an Energy Star builder, and a Living Building Challenge participant. We also build Zero Energy homes. If you want to certify a home, we can help shepherd the home through the process from the beginning.



What type of lighting is standard?

EcoCraft uses LEDs for the highest quality light and uses the least energy.



How does EcoCraft save water?

We install 98 percent-efficient tankless gas water heaters with recirculation so that our homes have on-demand hot water at a fraction of the cost and time compared to conventional systems. We also install Water Sense-labeled plumbing fixtures that reduce water consumption. In areas where there is not gas service, we use all-electric or propane fixtures and appliances.



What does EcoCraft use for plumbing?

Our homes are installed with PEX tubing for water lines inside the home. PEX has many advantages including cost savings and ease of installation; we follow manufacturer recommendations to eliminate exposure to sunlight and ground contact.



Are there toxic materials in EcoCraft homes?

EcoCraft uses materials that do not off-gas into the homes. We use formaldehyde-free insulation, low- or no-VOC paints, no-urea OSB, low- or no-VOC adhesives and sealants, and many others. Our focus on high quality indoor air starts with avoiding toxic materials so that our energy recovery ventilators don’t have to clean the air, too.



Transportation / Service Area

How are the modules transported to the site?

The modules are placed on a flat-bed tractor trailer and traverse normal highways and roads. The structure of the module is very strong and able to withstand hurricane force winds. We conduct (or have done by a third party) a route survey to determine the access to the site.



How do you know if you can get the modules to a particular site?

In addition to the route survey, we verify in advance whether or not we can get the modules to a home site. Our modules are usually from 12' to 16' wide and from 30' to 70' long. We look for enough space for “staging” so that we can have all of the modules at the site in preparation for placing the home on its foundation. If there’s not enough room, sometimes we coordinate with a nearby site so we can move the modules as needed before setting on the foundation. We also need space for a crane to hoist and then place the modules on your foundation. The crane usually requires a space about 30' wide x 30’ long, free of power lines. Adjacent space is also required for each module of the home so it can be lifted and placed on the foundation.



What if the site is out of EcoCraft’s range?

Our owner/builder program is designed for clients outside of our typical building radius. This program allows EcoCraft to deliver and set the modules on a foundation prepared by you or a site contractor. This program allows customers outside of our service area to still take advantage of our revolutionary construction methodologies and designs. Contact us for more information.