Those in the market for a mobile home may have come across a few different names for it. While many often interchange the terms mobile, manufactured, and modular, it’s important to know that there are a few key differences and that these distinctions can affect certain aspects – such as the type of home insurance to get.
Below, we discuss all there is to know about mobile homes, manufactured homes, and a touch of modular homes. We highlight the main differences, their similarities, and if these movable homes are right for you.
What is a Mobile Home?
A mobile home is any factory-built home that was built before June 15, 1976. This was the date that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) updated its standards, making the production of all mobile homes stricter and of a much higher quality in terms of both design and construction.
What is a Manufactured Home?
A manufactured home is any factory-built home built after June 15, 1976, that adheres to the HUD’s standard.
Defining the Modern Manufactured Home
After the updated standards took place, modern mobile homes were then referred to as manufactured homes. The important change of terms was meant to indicate that the newly built homes were transportable structures that were more than 8 feet in width, more than 40 feet in length while traveling, or at least 400 square feet in interior space when assembled on site. They would also adhere to all of the standards that the HUD had put in place, making them more durable than those built before the 80’s.
How Manufactured Homes Are Built
Manufactured homes are typically built in a factory and once all the sections are ready, they will be transported to the site to be assembled on the spot. This process makes for a speedier delivery since construction is often not affected by weather conditions or other external factors that would not affect a sheltered factory.
Is a Manufactured Home the Same as a Mobile Home?
Manufactured and mobile homes are generally pointing towards movable homes. However, ever since HUD set updated standards as to how movable homes were built, the modern manufactured home is considered to have stricter frame requirements, more insulation protection, better plumbing and electrical, updated fire protection, and is also more energy efficient.
All of these set them apart from one another and are also in place to ensure that future homeowners were well protected from natural disasters, harsh weather conditions, and other exterior elements – all of which they are more vulnerable to compared to standard homeowners.
The History of Mobile Homes and the 1976 Transformation
Mobile Homes go back as early as the 1920s. During this time, they were made mainly for vacation purposes and were placed in areas where families had access to recreational activities.
After World War II, the demand skyrocketed as veterans and their family members looked for more affordable housing options and found that in mobile trailers. As time went on, the trailers grew larger in size, with additional features for convenience.
To try to keep up with demands and the fact that these were originally built for short-term use, mobile homes had little to no safety features. This all changed in 1976 when the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act was passed. This Act specified guidelines, construction, and safety standards that all mobile homes moving forward had to meet.
Understanding the HUD Code and Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards
The HUD code was instilled to make all manufactured homes more durable, safer, and made of higher quality than mobile homes before the 80s. The following are its specifications:
- At least 400 square feet
- With ceilings, in all bathrooms and habitable rooms, of at least 7 feet
- Ceilings in non-habitable rooms but be at least 6 feet and 6 inches (storage, hallways, etc)
- At least 2 outside spaces at 12 feet for a single wide, or 20 feet for a double wide unit
- Bedrooms for a single occupant must have 50 square feet of floor space, while those for two occupants must have at least 70 square feet
- Each bedroom should have energy-efficient windows
- Bathrooms and kitchens must have mechanical ventilation
- Fire alarms
- Higher levels of insulation for regulated heating – including under each unit, around ductwork, outlets, lighting, walls, skirting, belly wrap, and increased caulking
- Good electrical wiring and piping practices
The Energy Efficiency of Manufactured Homes
Manufactured homes are not only safer and more durable, they are also built to be more energy efficient. Because of all the additional insulation, there have proven to be lower levels of noise and less use of both heating and cooling units.
The Difference Between Manufactured and Modular Homes
The term “modular home” has also been interchanged with the modern manufactured homes that we’re familiar with today. While both share the same process of being prefabricated at the factory and then brought to the residential location, the main difference between the two is that modular homes adhere to the same local, state, and regional building codes for traditional homes.
This basically means that a modular home is a prefabricated traditional home and is designed to stay on a permanent foundation. The only “mobile” aspect of a modular home is when it is transferred from the factory to the permanent site, otherwise, it stays in place once assembled.
Manufactured Home vs Traditional Home – Comparing Building Standards
When built at the off-site factory, manufactured homes are often produced in sections. These sections are then delivered to the residential property where they will be joined together. More often than not, they are placed on wheeled platforms, allowing them to be moved around later on.
Traditional homes, on the other hand, are built piece-by-piece from the foundation up, right on site. It is also placed there permanently and is not typically moved around.
When it comes to building standards, time-tested quality construction methods are applied to most if not all traditional homes. These are built to withstand harsh weather and other external factors. Moreover, since they are built atop a crawlspace, they can be anchored down to the ground.
Manufactured homes have also since updated their quality standards, allowing these properties to withstand harsh temperatures, snow, and other factors. They are often measured and cut by laser, making these structures as precise as possible. Because they are designed to be parked in a variety of locations, they may be more vulnerable and thus undergo stricter inspections, industry standards, and other guidelines.
Advantages of Choosing a Factory-Built Home
There are 5 main advantages of choosing a factory-built home over a site-built one.
#1 More Cost-Efficient
Factory-built homes are not only more affordable to produce but are also more affordable to maintain. In terms of production, the cost of having these made in a controlled environment can cut the total labor bill almost by half. Since they are built indoors, the material is not subject to any weather delays or the added fee of having to build in the rain, snow, or strong winds.
When talking maintenance, the added insulation helps make the factory-built home more energy efficient, which cuts down on your monthly utility bills.
#2 Less Waste
Most if not all the waste that comes with building prefabricated homes is disposed of (or recycled) at the factory. Moreover, these factories are high-volume customers, which motivates suppliers to send over choice materials. These materials are then stored in a climate-controlled environment. Both these factors combined greatly lessen the amount of damaged goods.
#3 Faster Turnover
It takes a significantly lesser amount of time to build prefabricated homes than on-site ones. While the latter can take at least 3 months, manufactured homes can be done in a month – maybe even less!
#4 Better Quality Control
The materials used in prefabricated homes are not only choice products but are also measured and cut with lasers. The technology used to finish manufactured homes is very advanced, offering great results. They also ensure precision cuts and joints each time. Moreover, factories undergo regular inspections to guarantee all is up to date.
#5 Specific Safety Standards
While the building materials for both manufactured and traditional homes are the same, prefabricated ones are specifically made for the geographic regions in which they are sold. This means that they are well-equipped for wind safety, temperature control, energy efficiency, and the like.
Federal laws also require all manufactured homes to have smoke detectors, egress windows, at least two exterior doors, limited combustible materials around fire hazards, and more.
Design and Customization Options in Modern Manufactured Homes
Most modern manufactured homes come in a variety of floor plans, models, and even additional features for added convenience. You can opt to have bedroom suites instead of your usual master bedroom, or even advanced appliances for a more technologically forward kitchen. Some opt to have an office space instead of a guest room, and some require PWD features installed. Many ask for integrated covered porches that extend beyond the standard manufactured home.
Just like your traditional home, modern manufactured homes can be custom-made to fit your preferences and lifestyle.
Building Your Dream Home: Should You Opt for a Manufactured Home?
While this guide may shed light on the many advantages of owning a manufactured home, it is important to also consider the downsides before making an investment.
For instance, without available land, it can be challenging to find an affordable vacant lot in an area you want to settle in. Moreover, there are fewer financing choices, and the limited options available often come at higher costs. This is the same as manufactured home insurance.
Lastly, there is not enough evidence to suggest that manufactured homes hold value like traditional ones in the long term. For this reason, they are often considered personal assets rather than property.
You’re All Set!
Owning a manufactured home is an option most modern families consider. The freedom to easily move around, travel, and also get an affordable home in a month is a very handsome deal. At the end of the day, it boils down to your and your family’s preferences, needs, and lifestyle. For more information on owning a manufactured home, feel free to reach out to us and we’d be happy to guide you through!