Modular vs. Manufactured Home

Prospective homeowners don’t have only one choice regarding the type of property they can buy. You don’t have to settle for a house that was traditionally constructed on site. You now have the option of modular or manufactured homes.

These homes are increasing in popularity, and more people opt for them instead. But, it’s essential to know the difference between modular and manufactured homes and their pros and cons to help you make a better decision.

The Difference Between Modular and Manufactured Homes

Before we get into the differences, we must understand what these two types of homes have in common. As you might know, typical homes are constructed on the site where the owners will live. But modular and manufactured homes are pre-manufactured entirely or partially at an off-site factory.

The difference between modular and manufactured homes is the following:

  • Modular homes are partially fabricated, shipped to the lot, and assembled on a permanent foundation.
  • Manufactured homes (mobile homes) are constructed in a factory on a fixed chassis. They can stand in a permanent location or move around.

Of course, there’s more to it, but this is the main difference between the two. To understand in more detail, keep reading.

What is a Modular Home?

Modular homes are usually built in sections in an off-site factory room-by-room. The different aspects are separately constructed, like the floor, walls, ceiling, and roof. Then, they ship these parts to the lot where the home will permanently stand.

These lots have a permanent foundation on which the modular home will stand. Builders then put the different panels together to construct the house according to the owners’ dimensions.

It’s not a one size fits all type of situation, though. You get to choose from different floorplans, sizes, and designs. It is so customizable that it’s challenging to differentiate between modular homes and traditionally built housing. And your home’s value will also fluctuate along with the traditional housing market.

What is a Manufactured Home?

Manufactured homes are usually entirely built and assembled in an off-site factory. Each has a permanent chassis with detachable wheels. These homes can be fully assembled at the factory or finished at the owner’s lot.

The perk of these homes is that you can detach the wheels and fix them on a permanent foundation. Or you can keep the wheels on and travel around in it.

There are three general floor plans you can choose from with manufactured homes. It depends on the number of sections that make up the plan that determines the type:

  1. Single-wide: This floorplan is one long section.
  2. Double-wide: This popular floor plan is two sections joined together.
  3. Tripple-wide: Three sections make up this floor plan for a spacious home.

Although you can only choose from these three floorplans, you can customize them by adding different features. For example, you can add a patio, deck, and internal or external characteristics. The downfall is that it might be more difficult to get a mortgage for these homes and their value tend to depreciate, especially if you don’t take care of them.

What to Consider Between Modular and Manufactured Homes

There are more differences between modular and manufactured homes than mobility. It would help to consider other aspects before deciding which one will work best for you and your household. Let’s look at the summary:

ConsiderationModular HomesManufactured Homes
Legal Code RequirementsMust adhere to local, state, and regional codes where the home will be located.Must adhere to federal HUD building codes.
Construction MethodsMultiple pieces were constructed in an off-site factory and assembled at the owner’s lot.Constructed entirely in an off-site factory and moved to the owner’s site.
Design OptionsMore customizableLess customizable
SafetyAdhere to local and state safety regulationsSafety regulations according to HUD
Home SitePermanent lotPermanent lot or land lease
MobilityNot mobileMobile and movable
Relative Home CostsHigher costsLower costs
Financing OptionsStandardLimited
Long-Term ValueDepends on the housing market.Usually depreciates over time.

So, when you want to buy a modular or manufactured home, it’s essential to consider their differences based on these aspects. Let’s discuss each one in more detail below.

Legal Considerations

It might not be a surprise that you must consider property and construction laws before choosing which home to buy. These laws govern modular or manufactured homes’ manufacturers, site, construction, and residence.

Each has different building codes that aim to protect the house, people, and property inside the home from extreme events like fires, windstorms, and earthquakes.

These codes also ensure the structural integrity of the homes as well as the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical safety. But, these codes depend on whether it’s a modular or manufactured home.

Modular homes must adhere to the local, state, and regional codes where the house will be located. So, it depends on where you bought your lot. 

Manufactured homes must adhere to Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations and is independent of where you will park your house.

Usually, the manufacturers and construction companies will ensure that your home of choice adheres to the required codes. Then, you’ll get a certificate of approval as part of the sales deed.

Construction Methods

The way modular and manufactured homes are constructed also varies. While both undergo some time in an off-site factory, there are other key differences you might have heard about.

Modular homes have different pieces made in a factory, but it’s not assembled until it gets to the owner’s lot. But, before the builders can construct these homes, they must lay a sturdy foundation according to the local and state building codes. Then, an inspector must approve the building’s construction.

Manufactured homes can be entirely built in an off-site factory, or some pieces are assembled at the desired location, like a patio. According to the HUD, each must have a permanent chassis, but the wheels can be detachable. At the same time, it doesn’t need a permanent foundation to stand on and doesn’t need structural approval by an inspector.

Design Options

When buying a home, everyone wants to add their personal touch to the design. You can choose from various cosmetic designs for mobile and manufactured homes, like internal and external materials, paint colors, fixtures, etc. But the structural design options vary.

Modular homes are more customizable, giving you a variety of floor plans and layouts to choose from. Because these homes resemble traditional stick-built houses, you can create custom designs with the manufacturers to suit your needs.

What makes it even more customizable is that you can add rooms to the house in the future if you want. As long as you have a large enough property with a proper foundation, nothing stops you from customizing your home as you grow with it.

Manufactured homes are less customizable because they have to adhere to HUD regulations. It means that the presence of a chassis and mobility limits the floorplans and layouts you can choose from.

As you know, manufactured homes come in three basic floorplans: single, double, and triple. At the same time, you can only have single-story mobile homes. Otherwise, it won’t be up to code.

Safety Considerations

Safety is a massive consideration whether you have children, an older person living with you, or other people who might get injured easily. Of course, you want everyone who steps into your home to be safe and free of injuries!

Unfortunately, many question whether these homes are safe because off-site companies manufacture them. But, you don’t have to worry about that if you use a trusted manufacturer.

Both modular and manufactured homes still need to abide by building codes. That ensures structural safety and avoids any injuries that people might obtain due to the home’s structure.

Modular homes abide by the local and state safety regulations of the area of the owner’s lot.

Manufactured homes adhere to HUD safety regulations.

Keep in mind that the manufacturers of these homes must adhere to the set rules and regulations. Otherwise, they won’t have the certification to continue with their work. At the same time, inspectors must ensure these homes meet the codes and usually get a seal or certificate of approval.

Home Site Distinction

Where you want your home also depends on the type of house you want to buy. Do you like it fixed on one lot? Or do you want to move around in it?

Modular homes are built on a fixed foundation and won’t move once it’s made in place.

Manufactured homes can move around due to the built-in chassis and permanent or detachable wheels.

Relative Home Costs

One of the most significant considerations when buying a house is the cost. Unfortunately, traditionally stick-built homes take a lot of time, workforce, and materials to build, resulting in skyrocketing prices.

Luckily both modular and manufactured homes are cheaper to build than the houses built on site, leaving homeowners with more variety to choose from. `

Modular homes are more expensive to build than manufactured homes because they need a proper foundation. It might be cheaper if you’re renting a property with a foundation. However, you’ll need a contract from the tenant to permit to build on that foundation.

Although the manufacturing happens in a factory, it still needs to be assembled on site. The workforce required to do that will also increase the home cost.

Manufactured homes are cheaper than modular homes because you don’t necessarily need a fixed foundation. You’re good to go if you have a lot or permit to set up camp on someone else’s property.

At the same time, these homes are manufactured and put together in a factory, so they don’t need assembly on site, decreasing the overall costs.

Financing Options

Most people won’t have the cash lying around to afford a home. So, you might consider getting financing instead. But what are your financing options with modular homes compared to manufactured homes?

Modular homes tend to get more financing options than traditional stick-built homes. For example, people might consider getting a loan from a modular home dealership or an institution like a bank. These loans are much like the loans for traditional housing, which means you might have more options to choose from.

Manufactured homes have fewer financing options because they are not considered in the same category as traditional housing. Most people get a loan from the seller or dealership or know a financing house willing to assist. At the same time, if you plan on fixing your home on a permanent lot, your financing options may increase.

Long-Term Home Value

A final aspect prospective homeowners consider is the long-term value of the home. Of course, you’d like to make a return on this investment in the future. But how does the long-term value differ between modular and manufactured homes?

Modular homes are like traditional homes; their value usually fluctuates with the local housing market. So, if the value of the homes in your area increases, so will that of your modular home.

Manufactured homes can either gain or lose value over time. Like vehicles, most manufactured homes depreciate over time. But, it can also appreciate depending on the housing market, location, house age, initial cost, and resale network.

In the past, manufactured homes usually lost value over time. But if you take care of it and consider where you locate it, you might get a return on investment.

The Bottom Line

If you are a prospective homeowner, you can choose traditional housing or opt for modular or manufactured homes. Of course, the latter is much more cost-effective and can be manufactured quicker than conventional homes.

The question might arise whether you should go for a modular or manufactured home. And the answer is that it depends on yourself and your family’s needs and requirements.

You have to think about the varying considerations between the two to make the right decision for you and your family. And the only way to make that choice is to research and understand the differences between the two.

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