Stick Built vs Modular Homes: Which One Is Better? (A Comprehensive Comparison)

Last Updated on September 16, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Nowadays, a home is not only considered a place to live in. It’s also an investment that you want to get the best return on. Modular homes have been popular for some time, but a stick built home is still the king of construction in America.

When you start your house-buying journey, you’ll come across various house designs and construction techniques. You may pick from different homes that match your lifestyle and objectives.

Some of the words you may encounter along the way are, on the other hand, uncommon and confusing. So what are the differences, benefits and factors to consider in choosing between a stick built or a modular home? Let’s find out!

What Are Stick Built Homes?

stick built home framework

As weird as people call it, a stick built home doesn’t mean a house constructed by the three little pigs made of sticks. Instead, stick built home is what you call a home built on site with nails and lumber. It’s possible that this term came about because the builders would assemble and make its foundation stick by stick or board by the board until the construction is complete.

A stick-built home is a traditional way of constructing a home, and it is the most popular method for building homes in America. This type of home has existed for quite some time now, and its popularity is not going anywhere because many people still prefer custom built homes.

Although stick-built homes are still the more common home today, many buyers are looking into a modular home. In addition, many people are open to the idea that building a house onsite may not be the only option.

What Are Modular Homes?

modern modular house

A traditional stick built home is considered the most value-for-money option when you want to build your own home. Modular homes, on the other hand, have become popular in recent years as it allows homeowners to construct their dream homes without having to go through the whole process.

Modular homes are built in a three-dimensional section or from the word itself, modules in a factory and delivered to the building site. Then the workers will assemble the parts of the house like LEGO pieces or puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly.

Finally, the contractor’s job is to attach the parts to the property’s foundation until the house is completely done. Modular homes must meet the same building codes; the only difference with a stick built home is this is done off site.

Modular homes are sometimes referred to as prefabricated houses. However, a prefab home is a more general term. Other types of prefab homes, such as mobile or manufactured houses, are different from modular because these types of prefab homes are entirely assembled in a factory.

Related: 41+ Popular Types Of Houses With Names and Photos

History of Modular Homes

Prefabricated homes like mobile homes have existed since the 1910s. For example, the company Sears Roebuck Co. has sold more than 500,000 prefabricated homes between the years 1910 to 1940.

However, modular homes only became known in the US after World War II, when the American troops and immigrants from Europe and Asia went to the US. Since these people needed housing, it became an opportunity for the housebuilding industry. Thus, it began the growth of modular construction.

Comparing Stick Built and Modular Homes – Important Factors to Consider

new stick built home under construction

Modular homes are no longer merely associated with mobile homes or manufactured houses. Instead, modular homes have become a choice of many buyers in recent years because it allows them to build their dream house, without having to go through all the time and effort that traditional a stick-built home requires. 


In terms of cost, the two things that you consider before deciding on a house are whether you would buy or build. The cost of a stick built home, and a modular home varies depending on your house’s design, materials, and size. Sometimes, a stick built home is more affordable because of cheap materials, but this is not always the case.

With modular homes, you might have saved yourself from the construction expenses. Still, the delivery charge, assembly fee, and installation costs could go beyond the overall costs of a stick built house. In addition, the total number of modules and the distance of your location from the factory may add up to the price of a modular home.

Many people believe that modular homes tend to be less expensive than stick-built homes. In reality, the cost of a modular house and a comparable stick-built home is nearly identical. But generally, a modular home is likely to be more affordable than a stick built home if you compute their final price by the square foot. Modular homes are built by factories specializing in building homes in bulk, reducing their assembly expenses. Their bulk buying methods reduce their costs.


A modular home became famous because of its speed in construction even if you’re on a limited budget, unlike stick built homes which can take several months before you move into your home. A modular home can be made in six months or less even if you’re on a tight schedule because of their speed compared to stick built houses.

Although modular sections may be built more quickly than a stick-built house, you should also remember that the construction time does not include the installation, configuration, or utility hookup time.

Of course, many people might think that a stick built house’s slow construction onsite is a hassle. Who wouldn’t want things the faster way? But actually, the slower timeframe can be beneficial for the homeowners.

As the housebuilders construct the stick built home, you can visit your property and see your home’s real-time work in progress. This lets you see everything from scratch until your house is complete while allowing you to make any changes while the construction is still ongoing.

This is a disadvantage to homeowners choosing a modular home as they do not have this opportunity. When their modular home is delivered from the factory to the site location, that’s it. And if they would like to make changes after the installation, it can be expensive.

Customization And Design

prefabricated house building

One of the pros of a stick built home is that it provides a better opportunity to customize the house with personal tastes and preferences since you can choose what kind of materials will be used, where they should be put, etc.

You can look for some samples from the Internet, magazines, or your builder to give you an idea of how you’d like your house to be. You can also seek help from an architect to help you in designing your dream home. With a stick built home, there’s an endless possibility in designing and customization.

Modular homes, on the other hand, have a lot more limitations on customization, and you might have to settle for some materials that the factory has already pre-selected.

A modular home also does not offer as many choices in design and style compared with stick built houses which can be highly beneficial if you like to stand out of the crowd or if you would like your home to look like a display model.

Nowadays, modular homes can look almost similar to stick built homes. However, these homes vary in style and appearance the same way a traditional home does- try to look through the photos of modular homes, and you find yourself interchanging the two. If you are diligent and meticulous enough, modular homes can be customized to match your taste and preferences, but it is still much more limited than a stick built house.


Modular homes are also energy efficient and environment friendly, making them perfect for people who care about the Earth. The downside is that modules may vary slightly due to different conditions during transport resulting in gaps and cracks.

Modular homes may not be as sturdy compared to stick built homes, but they are still safe enough for occupancy. However, modules or sections are not designed to hold up against earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. In addition, a modular home cannot be moved from one location to another because the foundation is specifically built for your chosen location.

There’s no need to worry about these, and the modular home’s quality as most modern ones have already overcome this flaw. Moreover, modular home builders nowadays produce better modules that can resist weather-related problems such as rain infiltration and exterior water damage due to their improved design and materials used in production. Moreover, since modular houses today can easily reach high levels of energy efficiency, they can be eligible for green building programs.

In theory, a factory setting offers more quality control throughout the construction process. However, modular houses are not all created equal; they vary considerably from one another. In addition, some businesses take shortcuts and use low-quality materials to save money.

As a result, regardless of the building method you choose, it’s critical to get plenty of research, get other people’s opinions, and thoroughly review your building plan before coming up with a final decision.

A modular house can be more affordable than a stick built house because of its factory-produced nature, but this doesn’t mean they’re poorly constructed or cheap in quality. Proper research is necessary to determine which modular home builder can provide high-quality yet reasonably priced custom homes.

Resale Value

Some homeowners take a step back in choosing a modular home because their perceived value for this type of home is low and depreciating. Instead, they want a house with a high resale value.

This public perception of modular home’s value changed as they became famous. Modular homes are now sold at a high price, sometimes even higher than stick built houses. Modular homes have received high valuation in the real estate market because of their quality, design and energy efficiency.

It may not be suitable to compare stick built homes and modular homes based on resale value alone. But this is one aspect that a home buyer should look into because even if moving out of the house is not part of the plan, a home is considered an investment.

Building Process

construction of new and modern modular house

We have already covered the definition of both stick built and modular homes. Now which of these two are more advantageous in terms of their building process?

The process of constructing a stick built home from scratch onsite can be beneficial because you can visit your property anytime you want to check how the building process is going. You can take a walk with your contractor, and you can even propose new suggestions or changes before they add the drywall.

However, the disadvantage of a stick built home is its building is highly dependent on weather conditions. Inclement weather means fewer delays in construction and moist framing lumber, which can be problematic if not dried completely before adding the drywall.

Modular homes are constructed in a climate-controlled site because these homes are built in a factory that cannot be affected by climates. With a modular home, the weather is out of the homeowner’s concern. They also have less wastage of materials.

When the modular home factory is ready to transport the parts to your site, they only have little to do because almost everything has been done- flooring, plumbing, wiring, windows, insulation, and more.


The real estate world has its vocabulary, with many phrases describing house building and selling status. However, even experienced home buyers can encounter unfamiliar words, like modular homes, that influences their approach to buying property. Stick built homes have been around for a long time, but recently, modular homes have been making headlines. If you are in a location with both modular and stick built houses, get guidance from real estate agents or experts.

When it comes to the cost, which plays a significant role in looking for a home, the price of your home is determined by many factors, like the condition of the property. Like any other home, a modular home might be as bad or better shape than a stick built house. In idealizing your dream house, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, it is one of the most significant financial and emotional investments you will ever make in your life. Beginning the construction process may be a little perplexing, but you can never go wrong with the right mindset, an experienced guide, enough research, and an informed decision.