Last year, Paul and Amy Deuble bought land in Shreve, Ohio, on which they intended to have assembled a 2,107-square-foot modular home with a similar-sized basement. Those plans stalled in November when owners of a local bed and breakfast objected to the construction, and a Common Pleas Court judge in Wayne County issued a restraining order on Dec. 12, 2006.

The obstacles the Deubles have encountered might sound familiar to modular builders and buyers elsewhere. The couple thought the contract they signed for the land they purchased allowed for modular construction, only to be informed later by their Realtor, Glick Real Estate, that the deed restricts manufactured homes. (A call to Nathan Glick of Glick Real Estate was not returned.) The distinction between manufactured and modular homes, says Amy Deuble, has been lost on Judge Robert Brown and the plaintiffs, David and Roberta Farrell, even though Ohio has defined terms for such structures and despite testimony by the house's manufacturer Commodore Homes.

So while their half-completed house sits on the lot, exposed to the elements, the Deubles and their two children are living in a rental in Wooster, Ohio. If the lower court rules against them, they are prepared to take their case to Ohio's appellate court where, they hope, the state's attorney general would present an amicus brief on their behalf.