Mobile? Modular? Manufactured? What's the Difference and How to Choose the Right One?

Red siding is reminiscent of a log-cabin home in this rendering of the exterior of The Cabin model by Clayton Homes. Austin, Texas.

The Cabin model by Clayton Homes is just one style of manufactured home that you can buy. Courtesy of Clayton Homes.

Tiny houses and other alternative forms of homeownership have captured the public imagination.

Pictures of adorably minuscule homes in beautiful settings dominate Pinterest sparking wander lust, admiration and surprise. Like tiny houses mobile, manufactured, and modular homes are an affordable alternative to traditional single-family homes.

Unlike tiny houses, mobile, manufactured and modular homes have enough space to comfortably accommodate a family and tend to have floor plans that feel like a traditional home. While the terms mobile, manufactured and modular are used interchangeably, they refer to different types of homes.

Even though mobile homes, manufactured homes and modular homes are similar, the differences between them impact the lifestyle of the people who live in them.

Mobile Homes

The definition of a mobile home has changed drastically since the late 1970s. Prior to the 1976 Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act, mobile homes were easily moved living spaces that were built off site, without much oversight as to building standards. The ‘HUD Code’ formally regulated production safety and quality and stipulated that official documents should refer to these types of homes as manufactured homes.

So, “mobile homes” refers to homes built before 1976 and “manufactured homes” refers to those built after 1976 under a higher set of building standards.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes offer families the chance to own a comfortable, amenity-filled home at a fraction of the cost. Built in a well-regulated homebuilding facility that help limit delays, manufactured homes have an almost endless list of customizable features. Once transported to the site, builders place the home on wooden pillars, metal piers, a solid foundation or a basement.

Families living in manufactured homes have a spacious and luxurious floor plan. Bedrooms in many manufactured homes can fix a king-sized bed, bathrooms have enough space for a bathtub and dual sinks, and storage spaces remain unobtrusive. Customization options in manufactured homes include granite and quartz countertops, stone accents, hardwood or tile flooring and a range of different floor plans. Manufactured homes must adhere to federal regulations and codes.

Modular Homes

Modular homes have the same spacious floor plans and seemingly endless customization options found in manufactured homes. Like manufactured homes, people feel drawn to the inherent flexibility and affordability found in modular homes.

Modular homes get built in home building facilities in multiple pieces, unlike manufactured homes that get built in one piece. The completed two to five pieces of the home get transported to the home site, where they are then joined on top of a solid foundation. Once all the pieces are joined, these homes look similar to site-built homes. These homes must adhere to local and state codes, depending on where the building is located.

As modern lifestyles change to become increasingly more flexible, the way we think about what a home is has changed as well. Manufactured homes and modular homes give people looking for the stability and comfort of a single family home the chance to invest in that dream without sacrificing their lifestyle.
After graduating in 2016 from The University of Texas with a degree in English, Sanda Brown became a SEO Associate for (...more)

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