What Is The Difference Between A Modular Home and a Manufactured Home | American Homes Tyler

Built from the ground up, entirely at the home site.
Conforms to state, local or regional codes (UBC) where the home is located.
Often called a “stick-built” home.

Modular Homes
Built in modules at a factory.
Modulars are built to conform to all state, local or regional building codes (UBC or IBC) at their destinations.
Modules are transported to the home site on truck beds, then joined.
Modular Homes are less expensive per square foot than site built homes.

Manufactured Homes
Formerly referred to as mobile homes.
Manufactured homes are built in a factory.
These homes conform to a Federal building code (HUD) rather than to building codes at their destinations.
Homes are built on a non-removable steel chassis.
Sections are transported to the home site on their own wheels.
Manufactured housing is generally less expensive than site built and Modular Homes.

What is a Modular Home?

A Modular Home is highly engineered. It is constructed in sections and put together by a builder on your building site. Modular Homes are designed, engineered and built in a factory-controlled environment.

How are Modular Homes Built?

The building process begins at the design phase. Most Modular producers use state-of-the-art computer aided design programs, which aid them in customizing floor plans and producing drawings and material requirement lists. Once designed, the building process begins. This process is similar to what you’ve seen during the construction of site built homes. The quality materials and care detail and the same building codes and standards are observed. Today’s Modular Homes are models of efficiency and quality assurance.

How Long Does the Building Process Take?

Speed and consistent quality are two of the many advantages for choosing Modular housing. On the average, a home consisting of two sections will be built in the factory within 4 to 5 weeks. Once the manufacturing process is complete, typically with interior finish right down to carpets and wall finish, the unit must be transported to a home site and placed on a pre-made foundation. Final completion is usually handled by a local builder or general contractor and includes connection of utilities to the home, and a short list of finish work. Normally the home is completed in two or three weeks.

What’s the Difference Between a “Modular Home” and a “Manufactured Home “?

Manufactured homes, sometimes referred to as mobile homes, are constructed to a different building code. This code, the “Federal Construction Safety Standards Act” (HUD/CODE), unlike conventional building codes, requires Manufactured homes to be constructed on a non-removable steel frame. Some communities have restrictions on where Manufactured homes can be located.

Modular and site built homes, on the other hand, are constructed to the same building code required by your state, county and specific locality and therefore are not restricted by building or zoning regulations. A new Modular Home is inspected at the assembly plant during each phase of construction. Evidence of this inspection is normally shown by the application of a State or inspection agency label of approval.

What Do Modular Homes Look Like?

Modular Homes look like any site built home. Today’s building technology has allowed Modular manufacturers to build most any style of home from a simple ranch to a highly customized contemporary. And, it doesn’t stop with houses. Modular producers are busy building banks, schools, office buildings, motels and hotels. Chances are you’ve been in many Modular structures and probably never realized it.

Can I Design My Own Modular Home?

Yes. Most Modular companies allow the customer complete design flexibility. But remember, every manufacturer is different. Engineering capabilities and product specifications will vary from company to company.

Is a Modular Home Better Than a Site Built Home?

The decision is clear. With a Modular Home you get efficiency and quality control. Efficiency begins with modern factory assembly line techniques. Your home travels to workstations, with all the building trades represented. Work is never delayed by weather, subcontractor no-shows or missing material. Quality engineering and Modular construction techniques significantly increase the energy efficiency of your Modular Home. A quality control process provides 100% assurance that your home has been inspected for code compliance and workmanship. In-plant inspectors as well as independent inspection agencies inspect the home on behalf of your state and local government.

Are Modular Homes Difficult to Finance or Insure?

There is no distinction between Modular and site built homes as far as appraisal or financing. Banks and lending institutions treat both types of construction the same. Likewise, there is no difference in insuring the Modular property.

What Do Modular Homes Cost?

When you add up all the labor, material and time savings inherent in the Modular building process, you will find that the price of a Modular Home is generally lower than a site built home of comparable size. Plus you will keep saving money year after year as your energy efficient home keeps your heating and cooling bills low.

Why Should I Consider a Manufactured Home ?

If you’re looking to get the most out of your “housing dollar,” you need to consider a Manufactured Home . Depending on the region of the country, construction costs per square foot for a new Manufactured Home average anywhere from 10 to 35 percent less than a comparable site built home, excluding the cost of land. Today’s Manufactured homes offer the quality construction, modern amenities and livability you are seeking at a price that fits your lifestyle and your budget!

How Is A Manufactured Home Different from A Site Built Home? Isn’t “Manufactured Home ” Just A Fancy Name For A Mobile Home?

A Manufactured Home is constructed entirely in a controlled factory environment, built to the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (better known as the HUD Code). A site built home is built “on-site” using traditional building techniques that meet either a local or state building code.

Starting in 1976, the HUD Code established a stringent series of construction and safety standards that ensure that today’s Manufactured homes are superior to “mobile homes,” the term used for factory-built homes produced prior to the introduction of the HUD Code. Today’s Manufactured homes are dramatically different in appearance from the “mobile homes” of yesterday with estimates that more than 90 percent of today’s Manufactured homes never move from their original site. Manufactured homes, like site built homes, are now available in a variety of designs, floor plans, and amenities. Today’s Manufactured homes are indistinguishable from site built homes and are fully compatible with any neighborhood architectural style.

What Is The Role Of The Retailer In Purchasing A Manufactured Home ? Can I Buy A Home Directly From The Manufacturer?

Most Manufactured homes are sold through retail sales centers, many of which are independently owned and operated. Others are owned and operated by a manufacturer. In some states, you may also buy from a Manufactured Home community owner, developer, or if you’re purchasing a previously owned home, a real estate agent.

Retailers offer a variety of products and services, including helping you customize the home to fit your needs and budget. Typically, the retailer is also responsible for coordinating the delivery and installation of your home. Furthermore, the retailer can assist in arranging financing and insurance coverage for the home. And, once you’ve moved in, the retailer is often the contact for warranty service.

Most states do not allow you to purchase a home directly from the manufacturer.

How Can I Be Sure That A Manufactured Home Is A Quality-Built Home? Do Manufactured Homes Use The Same Building Materials and Processes?

Today’s Manufactured homes are built with the same building materials as site built homes, but in a controlled factory environment where quality of construction is invariably superior to what can be done outdoors. The HUD Code regulates and monitors the Manufactured Home ‘s design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and overall quality. It also sets standards for the heating, plumbing, air-conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. The HUD Code also ensures compliance with these standards with a thorough inspection system that takes place at each step as the home is being constructed in the factory.

There are major benefits to having your home built in a factory:
All aspects of the construction process are quality controlled
The weather doesn’t interfere with construction, cause costly delays and warp or damage building materials
All technicians, craftsmen and assemblers are on the same team and professionally supervised
Inventory is better controlled and materials are protected from theft and weather-related damage
All construction materials, as well as interior features and appliances, are purchased in volume for additional savings
All aspects of construction are continually inspected by not one, but several, inspectors
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Is The HUD-Code Less Stringent Than State Or Local Building Codes?

No. While there are some differences between the codes, this difference has more to do with how the codes are intended to operate. While state or local building codes are basically prescriptive, meaning that they prescribe what type of lumber or what type of electric wire must be used in the construction of a home, the HUD-Code is more focused on performance. This allows the manufacturer to use products that are most compatible with the factory-building process as long as these products perform according to the guidelines established in the HUD Code.

Independent analyses comparing the state or local building codes with the HUD Code have found that “on balance, the codes are comparable” and “the net cumulative effect of the differences between the two codes is more likely on the order of hundreds of dollars, rather than thousands of dollars per unit.” In some cases, the local or state codes are more restrictive, while the HUD Code is the more restrictive in other situations such as ventilation, flame spread, and structural loads.

Can I Customize A Manufactured Home To Meet My Particular Needs/Wants?

Today’s Manufactured homes come with “standard” features that you would find in a site built home. Many floor plans are available that range from basic models to more elaborate designs that feature vaulted ceilings, drywall, fully equipped modern kitchens, comfortable bedrooms with walk-in closets, and bathrooms with recessed bathtubs and whirlpools. You may also select from a variety of exterior designs and siding materials, including wood, hardboard, or vinyl siding.

With the vast majority of manufacturers now using the latest in computer-assisted design, you have the flexibility of customizing your home’s floor plans, interior finishes, and exterior designs. Your lifestyle and your budget are the only limitations to the options available to you.

Many manufacturers also provide homes that are “accessible” for those with special needs. If you are interested in such a home, work with your retailer to order a home with accessible features, such as extra-wide halls and doorways, accessible counters and appliances, and specially equipped bathrooms.

Are There Limits On Where I Can Locate or Place A Manufactured Home ?

Many cities and towns, still relying on outdated perceptions and stereotypes of “mobile homes,” have zoning regulations limiting where you can place a Manufactured Home . However, more and more urban and suburban governments are recognizing that today’s Manufactured homes are virtually indistinguishable from site built homes and are allowing Manufactured homes to be placed in their communities.

Before purchasing a Manufactured Home , be sure to check the zoning regulations in the area where you want to live.

Before purchasing a Manufactured Home , be sure to check the zoning regulations in the area where you want to live.

Who Takes Care Of Installing A Manufactured Home ? Can I Do It Myself?

Most states have laws that govern the installation of a new Manufactured Home . Your retailer or the subcontractor installing the home is responsible for ensuring that the home is installed in accordance with state regulations and the manufacturer’s installation instructions or with an installation designed and approved by a licensed, registered engineer. The proper method of installing the home will depend on the design of the home and the conditions of the location, such as climate and soil type.

Depending on the type of loan used to finance the home, the lender may have some specific requirements for the foundation and installation of the home as well.

Are Manufactured Homes Covered By A Warranty? Who Do I Contact To Service Problems Covered By A Warranty?

Most manufacturers now offer warranties to guarantee the quality, workmanship, and major heating and cooling systems of the home for a specified time, usually ranging from one to five years. This warranty also tells the homebuyer what to do if a problem arises. Makers of the appliances provided in the homes also provide either “full” or “limited” warranties. There are major differences among warranties and these warranties should be provided to you in writing.

The retailer also has distinct responsibilities in the installation and servicing of the home. Be sure to have the retailer clearly state in writing its responsibilities and warranty coverage for the home’s transportation and installation.

Even if your home and some of its appliances do not have a written warranty, the buyer does have implied warranties under state laws which require a new home and new appliances to work normally and perform properly.

Will A Manufactured Home Appreciate In Value?

Generally, a home is a great investment. Appreciation on any home – either site built or Manufactured – is affected by the same factors: the desirability and stability of the community, supply and demand for homes in the local market, and maintenance and upkeep of the home. When properly installed and maintained, today’s Manufactured homes will appreciate the same as surrounding site built homes.

What Kinds Of Financing Are Available For Manufactured Homes?

Just as there are choices when you buy a site built home, there are a variety of financing options when you buy a Manufactured Home . Down payments and loan terms are similar – 5 to 10 percent of the Manufactured Home ‘s sales price, and loan terms of 15 to 30 years.

If you are buying the home and land together, or plan to place the home on land you already own, some financial institutions offer traditional real estate mortgages with similar interest rates. Should you be purchasing the Manufactured Home separately from the land on which it will be located, the home will probably be financed as a personal property Manufactured Home loan, usually with a somewhat higher interest rate.

FHA-insured and Department of Veterans Affairs-guaranteed (called FHA and VA) loans are available to Manufactured homebuyers. These types of loans may offer lower interest rates or lower down payment requirements if available in your area. They require more paperwork during the credit application and approval process and, therefore, may take longer for approval than a conventional loan.

Will I Be Able To Insure My Manufactured Home ?

Yes. There are several insurance companies that specialize in offering insurance coverage for Manufactured homes.

Are Manufactured Homes More Susceptible To Fire Than Site Built Homes?

Manufactured homes are no more prone to fire than homes built on-site. As a matter of fact, a national fire safety study by the Foremost Insurance Company showed that site built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire as Manufactured homes.

Fire resistance provisions of the HUD Code include strict standards for fire retardation and smoke generation in materials, large windows in all bedrooms, smoke alarms, and at least two exterior doors which must be separate from each other and reachable without having to pass through other doors that can be locked. Site built homes are required to have only one exterior door and no “reachability” requirement.

Are Manufactured Homes More Vulnerable To Damage From Tornadoes And Hurricanes?

While many like to joke that “mobile homes attract tornadoes,” there is no meteorological or scientific basis to thinking that that theory. In fact, the explanation for the reports of damage to Manufactured homes from tornadoes is quite simple: Manufactured housing is largely found in rural and suburban areas where tornadoes are most likely to occur.

As to hurricanes, valuable lessons were learned from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which destroyed or damaged thousands of site built and Manufactured homes. Now, in areas prone to hurricane-force winds, the standards for Manufactured homes are equivalent to or more stringent than the current regional and national building codes for site built homes in these high wind zones.

Also, proper installation and anchoring of the home is a key element is how a Manufactured Home will perform in severe weather situations.

Can I Make Repairs/Renovations On A Manufactured Home The Same Way As With A Site Built Home?

While you should perform minor repairs and upkeep on the home, just as with any home, it is advisable to hire a professional for more extensive repairs and renovations. Your homeowner’s manual outlines maintenance requirements.

Once your home has left the factory, the HUD Code does not include provisions for additions and alterations. Such modifications may jeopardize your home warranty. They may also create malfunctions or an unsafe home.

An approved addition should be a freestanding structure that meets local building codes, and you may need a construction permit from local authorities.

Failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on maintenance and renovations can void the manufacturer’s warranty, as well as lessen the value and life of your home.

Are There Any Other Special Considerations I Should Know About Before Purchasing and Living In A Manufactured Home ?

Like any home, while your mortgage payment may be your biggest expense, you will have other regular and periodic expenses, such as property taxes and service fees for water and utilities.

While, theoretically, a Manufactured Home can be moved after its initial placement, it is neither common nor advisable to do so. If you relocate, make sure you use a professional transporter; never try to move the home yourself. Cost is another consideration in moving the home. Besides transport expenses, which include licensing fees to take your home through a state, you’ll have to pay for a new foundation, installation, and utility hook-ups.

Where Can I Find More Information On Manufactured Housing?

To learn more about Manufactured housing, contact the:

Manufactured Housing Institute
2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 610
Arlington, VA 22201-3062.