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According to the Manufactured Housing Institute’s National Communities Council (MHINCC), manufactured homes are: homes built entirely in the factory under a federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Manufactured homes may be single- or multi-section and are transported to the site and installed, often finding permanent residence in a trailer park or manufactured home community.
Modular homes aren’t just the stuff of trailer parks anymore: With several American companies developing factory-built homes, the industry has grown to install homes on permanent foundations that are much more like on-site built homes than mobile homes. While smart buyers will investigate manufactured homes when they begin their search, the type of building has its own advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Modern manufactured homes are extremely different than the mobile homes built prior to 1976.
The MHINCC distinguishes among several types of factory-built housing: manufactured homes, modular homes, panelized homes, pre-cut homes, and mobile homes. From the same source, mobile home "is the term used for manufactured homes produced prior to June 15, 1976, when the HUD Code went into effect."[2] Despite the formal definition, mobile home and trailer are still common terms in the United States for this type of housing.Manufactured homes are built in three standard sizes:

  • single wide,
  • double wide, and
  • triple wide.

(Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) are limits and rules placed on a group of homes or condominium complex by a builder, developer, neighborhood association, or homeowners association. When living in a home or condominium that is restricted by CC&Rs, an owner gives up certain freedoms in order to be part of a shared community. For example, most condominium building associations have smoking restrictions, parking and noise level rules, aesthetic guidelines for paint color, height restrictions, and minimum and maximum square footage requirements. Sometimes buyers can get access to the documents before making an offer, but in most cases, buyers get a complete list of CC&Rs and community restrictions promptly after signing the initial Purchase and Sale Agreement.)
They are built entirely inside home building facilities that are climate controlled to avoid weather delays and almost always have countless customizable options such as types of flooring, cabinetry and exterior finish, just to name a few.
Each home is internally inspected multiple times throughout various phases of construction to confirm proper construction and quality.
Constructing manufactured homes typically involves connecting plumbing and electrical lines across the sections, and sealing the sections together.
Many manufactured home companies manufacture a variety of different designs, and many of the floor-plans are available online. Manufactured homes can be built onto a permanent foundation, and if designed correctly, can be difficult to distinguish from a stick-built home to the untrained eye.
Manufactured homes are typically purchased from a retail sales company, initially assembled by a local contracting company, and follow-up repairs performed by the manufactured home company under warranty.
A manufactured home, once assembled, goes through a ‘settling-in’ period, where the home will settle into its location. During this period, some drywall cracking may appear, and any incorrectly installed appliances, wiring or plumbing should be repaired, hopefully under warranty. If not covered under warranty, the costs will be borne by the consumer. For this reason, it is important that the consumer ensure that a reputable and honest contractor is used for the initial set-up. If any repairs are not completed by the initial set-up crew, the manufacturer will send repair crews to repair anything covered by the warranty. The secondary repair team must be scheduled, and may not be available immediately for most repairs. Just because a manufactured home has been assembled does not mean it is immediately habitable; appropriate ventilation, heating, plumbing, and electrical systems must be installed by a set-up crew, otherwise, the buyer must wait for the manufacturer repair team or do it themselves.
Manufactured homes can be relocated, however, with the help of a contractor that specializes in manufactured home set up and delivery.
Visually, manufactured and modular homes don’t appear that different, and both are often mistaken as site built homes.
However, prefabricated homes differ depending on the codes they must follow.
Characteristics of Manufactured homes

  • Very old models are sometimes referred to as mobile homes or trailers
  • Manufactured houses are pre-constructed completely in the factory on a permanent, fixed steel chassis.
  • Manufactured homes have wheels which are typically detached once the unit is towed to the residence.
  • Manufactured homes typically have skirting/siding around the bottom of them to hide where the wheels were removed and to give it the appearance of a typical home.
  • Manufactured homes must abide by a Federal HUD building code.
  • Once built the manufactured home (typically 1-3 units) is moved to its final residence using their own wheels.
  • Manufactured homes remain on their steel chassis, and do not have basements. Theoretically they can be moved but that rarely happens.
  • Manufactured homes often face special residential zoning restrictions which can limit their placement.
  • Some families use the old and smaller manufactured homes for mobile vacation homes.
  • Mobile homes technically are manufactured homes but are very different when compared to today's manufactured homes.
  • Building inspectors are sometimes called in to inspect the electrical and propane gas hookups, but trailers do not need to pass a building code for occupation.
  • Manufactured homes are generally less expensive than modular homes.
  • Manufactured homes are often a little harder to finance and generally decrease in home equity value.


When a home is built on site, it’s exposed to the elements during its entire construction, and the building materials used to create it are also stored outside. This can expose an on-site built home to moisture through rain and snow, and may cause construction delays during patches of inclement weather. Built and stored indoors, factory built homes don’t face these issues.


Although costs vary by builder and the distance homes must be transported before installing them on land, because of the controlled building conditions, a factory built home is usually cheaper than a similarly sized on-site built home. Buyers can expect to save anywhere from 10- 20 percent on housing costs.


Factory built homes must be constructed solidly enough to withstand transportation, and manufacturers typically build them to be more sturdy than a similar, site-built home. Factory built homes are often built using jigs and other tools unavailable to workers in the field, increasing their quality, and feature additional structural improvements, such as using lag bolts instead of nails and reinforcement straps, many on-site builders skip.


When you buy an on-site home, you typically just pay for it with a mortgage. When you build a factory-built home, builders require that you pay for the construction up front to ensure buyers don’t back out once work begins. While builders may provide loans, many buyers must temporarily finance construction with their savings. Once a home is completed and built, the homeowner’s mortgage covers construction debts, returning savings or a loan to its original owners.


Traditional developers sell homes and lots in a single transaction. Buyers of manufactured homes must secure the land upon which to build in addition to purchasing the home. Because of this, the cost of the home itself may be misleading, as buyers may need to contend with the cost of real estate and improvements on that land. For example, if you will need to integrate water and sewer lines into your property, you can expect your land costs to be significantly. These are just two possible examples of additional expenses that may be encountered.


While on-site homes are easily modified by the builders, many manufactured home builders don’t offer the same level of customization. Buyers must choose from a limited selection of floor plans, and construction methods are more regimented, often barring major modifications to blueprints.

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