Just kidding, we mean "pop" as in popular questions. We field a lot of different questions all of the time, whether on the phone, via email, during design, or in one of our webinars. There are some questions that we hear over and over, as they seem to be common topics of concern from inquiring, intelligent minds. We understand: you want to know how it all works! Well, we thought we’d pick a couple of favorites to help shed some light... in short answer form!
Question 1: How does the modular box system work?
When a home is constructed as a modular system, it is built in large rectangular sections indoors, on an assembly line. Each section has walls (exterior and interior), a floor, a ceiling (or roof) and many other interior components (like a kitchen). Those sections also have electrical wiring/lighting, rough (and sometimes finished) plumbing, insulation, windows and doors, and finish trim already installed.
Modular sections come in many sizes, ranging from 10-16 feet in width (or up to 18’ wide, if you’re a lucky Mainer!), 32-60 feet in length, and ~10-11 feet in total height, depending on the BrightBuilt design that's been selected. The maximum sizes can vary a bit, depending on your location, as they are constrained by state to state shipping regulations and requirements. Because the module itself is placed on a flat bed and driven to its site, which could travel through many states depending on location, the modules have limits to how wide and how tall they can be.
Once a module reaches its site, it is placed on a foundation, either as a single "box" or multiple sections that come together. If it's a single box or single floor design, then the roof will likely come attached to the module as a hinged panel, which is then lifted into place by the same crane that sets the module itself. A first floor can also consist of two (or more!) modules. The junction where two boxes come together is called the marriage/mate wall. This wall exists for structural and stability purposes (and often helps delineate interior spaces as well). If a home has a second floor, additional modules are stacked on top of the first floor modules. The second floor modules will have a roof that is hinged and is also raised by a crane, which creates the "attic" space for a home.
Because a majority of the wiring and plumbing lines are already in place within the walls of each module, they will need to be connected to the utilities on site, as well as connected between modular sections.
And, that's the gist of how a single module or multiple module system makes a home!
Question 2: Do I need a basement?
The short answer to this is: yes. Modular construction (as described above, and as the majority of BrightBuilt Homes are) cannot be placed on a "slab on grade" style foundation. There are a couple of reasons for this, one being that a module is always built with a floor system. In addition, there are utilities that exist within that floor, which crews will need access to from underneath (for instance, to connect a drain line to the on-site septic system). But, there are a variety of "basements" upon which a module can be placed, and they range from a crawl space (~3') to full height basement (~7.5'-9').
In a BrightBuilt Home, that basement is almost always considered part of the "high-performance shell" and as such, will be a fully insulated, air-sealed, water-proofed, and conditioned space. Often, a basement will house the mechanical systems, and can also serve as additional living space, if desired.
The height and space of a basement is, of course, site dependent (due to conditions like water table, bedrock, and more), but you will find that most BrightBuilt homes sit on and make use of full-height basements.
We could write full blog posts on both of these topics, but we hope this serves as a useful and succinct summary for now. Look for more in-depth blog posts coming in the future, as well as upcoming editions of this new "pop" question section!