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What are the Differences Between Manufactured, Modular, and Mobiles Homes?

John Fedro
2 min read
What are the Differences Between Manufactured, Modular, and Mobiles Homes?

At first glance manufactured homes, modular homes, and mobile homes may all look the same, but be aware there are many subtle and obvious differences both inside and outside between the three kinds of homes.  Whether you are looking to move into a new home of your own or are ready to invest in your next cash-flowing rental property, the information below will help shed some light on the differences and similarities amidst mobile homes, manufactured homes, and modular homes.

Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are what you may think is any fabricated home that is not built completely at the location where it will reside, but the fact is mobile homes have not been made since 1976.  This was the year HUD set forth new and safer construction and installation standards for all homes built in a factory.  Mobile homes may be located inside a mobile home park or on an owner’s land.  These homes have steel I-beams which run along the underside of the homes; these I-beams may rest atop concrete blocks, wooden pillars, metal stands, or a permanent concrete foundation.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are fundamentally mobile homes built to new and higher HUD safety standards during or after 1976.  Like mobile homes, manufactured homes are built and shipped on flat bed trucks in 10’ to 12’ foot sections and joined at the site where they will reside temporarily or permanently. Once these manufactured homes are attached to power and utilities a local code inspector must ONLY review and inspect these utility connections, but NOT the building structure itself.  Mobile homes and manufactured home loans may be guaranteed under FHA guidelines; however loans are typically for 20 years or less in length.

Modular Homes

Modular homes can be the pinnacle in factory-made housing.  Unlike mobile homes and manufactured homes, modular homes are built to the same standards as site built homes but without the time or physical energy needed to build a complete home from scratch on-site.  Construction time and costs can be drastically reduced by as much as 50% compared to traditional site built homes, because modular homes built in factories need not worry about material damages or work stoppage due to rain, wind, or snow.  Modular homes are built to such standards that when these homes are shipped from the factory on flatbed trucks and joined, occasionally with the help of cranes in multi-floor situations, local code inspectors must meet and approve of all utility connections AND build codes inside and outside of the home.

Things to remember:

  • Modular homes can look identical to traditional frame site built homes once completely attached.  Modular homes can be multi-stories high and are attached to each other on-site.  Homes such as these are joined and rest on a solid slab foundation once complete.
  • Manufactured homes are mobile homes 2.0; they are built to higher construction standards than their predecessors built prior to 1976. Homes such these may be typically joined and installed on a permanent concrete foundation or movable block pillars.
  • Mobile homes are the original movable home.  Like manufactured homes, two, three, or more single units can be joined to create double-wides, triple-wides, or _______-wide homes.
  • Every property is different from situation to situation.  Homes only a few years old may be more rundown and depressed than homes 30 years old.  Like anything else it is all about how it is cared for and maintained over the years.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.