CSI Manufacturing Inc. in Cambridge will be celebrating 50 years of providing modular housing in the near future.
Begun in 1974, by Gale Casteel, the company started with manufacturing and erecting modular beef and hog confinements and milking parlors. A few years later, responding to changes in the agricultural community, Casteel transitioned to modular homes. The Casteel family has been providing quality homes for Henry County residents ever since.
Casteel passed away in 2015, and his two sons and daughter have run the business since.
CSI Manufacturing has supplied modular homes throughout the Midwest. Homes have been placed across Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana and Wisconsin. Other CSI homes have found their way to South Dakota, Colorado and Texas.
Another Henry County business celebrating an anniversary
The advantage of a factory built CSI modular home is that construction can occur all year round, without Mother Nature's interference. During a normal year, construction of the modular home can take place while the homeowner is having the foundation readied simultaneously, cutting the time required to erect the home.
Scaffolding, overhead cranes and pneumatic tools are on hand and not required to be set up and taken down. As seen in photos, scaffolding is on wheels for easier placement in the construction process.
CSI Manufacturing feels the ups and downs of the housing industry, as do traditional construction companies. In 2021, 12 homes were built during the entire year. According to Kim Moriarity, head of designs and sales, so far this year, nine have been sold.
When asked what the start to finish time on a normal year, Moriarity indicated that pre-pandemic a home could move through the factory in 6-8 weeks. With shortages and delays on construction materials, she feels now that six months is optimistic.
Modular homes are built in sections in a factory, in climate controlled conditions, and transported on lowboy trailers to the homesite, where they are installed on a foundation or crawlspace. There, they are permanently anchored to the foundation, which has roughed in plumbing, done in advance of delivery. Utilities will be brought to the homesite, typically done once the modules are placed and the home assembled.
According to Moriarity, Gale Casteel's only daughter and the CSI design specialist, the quality of the modular home is as solid as "stick built" or a home built on site by a contractor. CSI uses comparable grades of building materials, and uses top of the line vendors such as Pella for windows and Aristokraft for cabinetry. Insulation values of R21 for walls and R51 for attic are the norm. Floor joists are 2 x 10 construction.
Every CSI home is customizable, from start to finish. A home that was being prepared to ship during our tour came in five modules, with French doors which would open onto a deck, expansive windows, and a farmhouse kitchen. Custom lighting was deemed too fragile to survive the shipping, so it will be installed once the home is assembled.
Manufactured, or mobile homes are constructed on a steel frame, generally with a running gear under them. These should not be confused with modular. These homes are transported to the home site on the running gear. They can be placed on a foundation, or remain on the running gear.
In 1976, governmental regulations were applied to these kinds of structures, and now technically the term 'mobile' only applies to ones built pre 1976. Manufactured or mobile are built to HUD specifications, modular must conform to state and local building codes, reputedly more stringent provisions.
More interesting things coming from Henry County
The supply chain issues have impacted CSI, like most every other construction business. Moriarity stated that "When the pandemic started, we did not have the issues with supplies for about the first year. It's been since summer of 2021 and through 2022 that lead times on certain materials have gone to 5 - 6 months. Garage doors and countertops are even harder to predict."
"For a while it was floor joists and drywall that were hard to get. That part of the supply chain seems to have corrected itself, now other construction elements are in short supply. Truly, the supply chain has impacted all components of building, siding, plumbing fixtures, pvc piping, lumber, etc.".
Recently one of her suppliers of kitchen cabinets cut back on the number of offerings available. Her countertop supplier also scaled back choices.
Moriarity's brothers, David and Derek Casteel are also involved in the manufacturing end of the business. CSI has 20 employees currently. When asked if they were hiring, Moriarity replied, "Yes, in actuality, it would be great to have new people across the board, those willing to learn carpentry, both rough and finishing skills, most definitely drywallers are always needed as well as electrical and plumbing helpers. " She also indicated that they would be willing to train the right people.
Anyone interested in learning more about CSI Manufacturing should visit their website at http://www.csihomesonline.com/. A complete catalogue of homes they have constructed is available there.