For many people, the term Ready To Move (RTM) homes still brings to mind images of rectangular trailers on wheels. RTMs are actually complete houses – not mobile homes. They’re exactly what their name suggests: homes that are ready to be moved to a lot of your choice.
RTMs are increasing in popularity, and once they’re installed, can be impossible to distinguish from traditional, site-built homes.
“They’re houses,” stresses Suzanne Marquette of New Generation Homes. “If people haven’t done their research they don’t always realize that. But they have to be built to the same code that any other house is. And they have to be transported, so sometimes they’re actually built better.” Marquette and her husband Randy started New Generation Homes in Headingley, Manitoba in 2002, and have built RTM homes for people across the Prairies.
Just like homes that are built directly on a lot, RTM homes are completely customizable. Instead of being built on the customer’s property, the homes are built in workshops or warehouses. RTM companies have builders and contractors work in their on-site shops, so they can better control the costs. They also don’t need to worry about the weather – which is a viable concern when building anything in the Prairies.
“People sometimes think that they can find contractors in their area that could do the job for less money,” Marquette says. “But they don’t take into account delays from weather or transportation costs to and from the site, both of which can add to the overall cost. Building them here means that we don’t experience those delays, we can keep an eye on things and everything is always up to code.”
Building an RTM home is fast too. “One of the big advantages of an RTM home is the time-saving factor,” says Wayne Bergen of Pioneer Homes in Altona, Manitoba. “Because we build the homes here we can start right away and local contractors can be building the foundation on the lot at the same time. The home can be completed in three or four months.” Pioneer Homes has built customized homes for customers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and even North Dakota.
Because of the size of the homes, and the space needed to transport them, RTM homes can be too difficult to install in dense urban areas, where the streets are narrower and the lots are smaller.
“It’s an ideal option for rural Manitoba,” Marquette says. “And we’ve had homes fit easily into some of the suburbs around Winnipeg.”
There are several variables that will affect the overall cost per square foot though, including the materials used and the interior furnishings. Homebuyers can customize their flooring, cabinetry and woodwork, utilities and even carpets – all of which will affect the final cost of the home. Some RTM companies will quote a price range per square foot.
Alberta-based Cameron Manors, that can ship houses anywhere in the Prairies, says that RTMs cost about $105 to $135 per square foot, but generally RTM companies can’t give an accurate cost without first talking to the homebuyer.
“It’s very hard to give a price per square foot,” Bergen says. “Cost is determined by the size and the features. Generally we meet with customers and discuss what they would like, and then we can provide a quote estimate.”
Once a final quote is settled, homebuyers can generally be confident that that price won’t change. “We can guarantee a price quote for everything that is done on site,” Marquette says. “We sit down with our customers, go through all of the options, and come up with the final amount. As long as new features or extra add-ons aren’t requested the cost won’t change.”
The cost of the home is the largest in the overall purchase, but homebuyers may be unaware of the other expenses that come with purchasing an RTM home, namely with the expenses associated with the property lot. These expenses include the cost to build the home’s foundation, building permits for their municipality, having utilities connected to the lot, landscaping and sometimes the cost to transport the home to the lot.
RTM companies will advise customers on which on-site preparations will be needed before the home can be moved, but homebuyers should still be prepared to do some research into local contractors and zoning codes/permit requirements in their region.
Foundations and moving
The largest expense, outside the cost of the actual home, is the foundation. The cost of the foundation is determined by several factors, including the type of foundation, the size and depth, the location of the lot, building requirements for your area, soil characteristics, and the contractor that you use. If you plan on laying your own foundation you will need to pay for equipment rental and supplies.
Moving an RTM home requires special permits to use national highways, provincial highways, and municipal roads. Homes being transported may also require a permit to cross railways, as well as a permit and escort from utility companies.
Some RTM companies will arrange the transportation of completed homes to the lots, including securing the necessary permits. In Manitoba, the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation recommends that homebuyers who are responsible for arranging their new home’s transportation go through a certified moving company. Buyers who wish to move their homes personally are encouraged to contact the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation to determine which of the above permits they will require, and if they will need special licence plates for the moving vehicle.
Moving your RTM home can also be affected by seasonal road restrictions. During this time the ground is too wet to support the weight of the homes, and RTM homes cannot be moved on roads that don’t have paved shoulders. Spring road restrictions are lifted on May 31.