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Learn about the differences between a manufactured home and a mobile home

The terms mobile home and manufactured home are often used interchangeably when describing a home built offsite and assembled at another location. There is a difference between these two terms, however, and looking at what the term mobile home versus manufactured home means uncovers some very distinct differences.

What is a Mobile Home?

A mobile home is any pre-fabricated home built prior to 1976. These homes first came into existence in the 1920s and started as trailers that vacationers could camp in while on the go. Over the next few decades, these trailers began getting larger and wider while offering more conveniences within. Eventually, they became used for permanent residences and were less often towed behind a vehicle. The name was then changed from trailers to mobile homes and they were assigned their own unique VIN numbers, just as a car would have.

In 1976, the Department of Housing and Urban Development stepped in and developed stricter standards for these homes. If people were going to be living in them permanently, with the home on a fixed residence, they needed to be built to higher standards.

This is where the change from a mobile home to a manufactured home came about. Only homes built prior to 1976, before the new standards were enforced, are considered mobile homes. Anything after is a manufactured home.

What is a Manufactured Home?

Since a mobile home is a home manufactured prior to 1976, the simple definition of a manufactured home is one built after 1976. The differences between the two extend even further though, since the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard Act brought in a whole set of guidelines for the design, construction, and quality of manufactured homes.

Prior to the implementation of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code the manufacturing process of manufactured homes was not regulated. Now, all aspects of the home are carefully considered, including:

  • Design and construction

  • Strength and durability

  • Transportability

  • Fire resistance

  • Energy efficiency

  • Overall Quality

  • Performance standards for heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical

Not only did the HUD code improve the quality of manufactured homes, but it also helped to improve their perception within the market. Prior to 1976 the homes were built cheaply and were typically of low quality. After 1976, and even more so now, manufactured homes are built just as strong and with the same level of quality as a site built home. In some cases, they’re held to even higher standards!

To make sure each piece of a manufactured home follows the HUD code it is labeled with a red tag. Having these tags guarantees that the home is built to the level of quality expected.

A Third Type: Modular Homes

There is also a third term that can be used to refer to homes built off site and that is modular homes. These are slightly different than manufactured homes in that they are pre-built in multiple sections off site, with final assembly occurring where the home will reside. Modular homes are held to local or state building codes, compared to manufactured homes which follow federal guidelines.

Manufactured Homes Means Quality

The HUD code did wonders for the manufactured home industry and has created homes any homeowner would be proud to own. So, when referring to a home built in the last 40 years, remember to use the term manufactured home. This term is a reflection of the outstanding quality and functionality of the modern manufactured home.

Ready to find your own manufactured home? Use our Find-a-Home tool to start looking for a place you can call home.

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