Manufactured Home, Mobile Home and Modular Home: What is the Difference?

Many people think that manufactured homes, mobile homes, and modular homes are one in the same, but that’s hardly the case. While the three aforementioned home types all have some commonalities, they also have some key differences that separate one from the other. This guide will aim to explain the basics of mobile, manufactured and modular homes, and the key similarities and differences between the three types of living accommodations.

What is a Mobile Home?

Mobile Home Example

Out of mobile, manufactured and modular homes, mobile homes and manufactured homes are the two that are most often confused for one another. In reality, that’s because the two types of homes aren’t all that different from one another – aside from one key difference that is. Specifically, mobile homes are those that were built prior to the year 1976. The date June 15, 1976, is a significant one when it comes to differentiating between mobile homes and manufactured homes, as it’s the date that HUD’s (Housing and Urban Development) Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard Act was instituted to dictate the standards of construction behind such homes. Hence, anything built prior to June 15, 1976, is considered a mobile home and anything built after June 15, 1976, is classified as a manufactured home. Because of the standards that were implemented, mobile homes are typically lesser quality homes than manufactured ones.

What is a Manufactured Home?

Manufactured Home Example

Like we noted in the above section, a manufactured home is a factory-built home that was constructed following the implementation of HUD’s Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard Act of June 15, 1976, that dictated building codes and standards accordingly. Specifically, the Act set standards for durability, design and construction, a home’s ability to be transported, fire resistance, quality, heating, cooling, plumbing, and energy efficiency, among others. In a nutshell, the HUD Act helped improve the quality and construction of factory-built homes following June 15, 1976. In fact, every factory-built home must be labeled with a red tag, which demonstrates that it was built to HUD standards.

What is a Modular Home?

Modular Home Example
Modular home from Pratt Homes

Though mobile homes and manufactured homes have a lot in common, modular homes are a bit more of an outlier when it comes to the three types of housing discussed in this piece. Like manufactured and mobile homes, modular homes are pre-built. But following their construction is where their similarities begin to vary. Modular homes are often assembled on site over a concrete foundation. And unlike a mobile or manufactured home, once a modular home is assembled, it cannot be moved or transported to another lot – it’s there for good. What’s more is that modular homes tend to offer better durability, better features and often resemble the types of homes you’d see in a typical American neighborhood. Because of this, modular homes are typically more expensive than mobile homes and manufactured homes.

Key Similarities

There are key similarities between the various types of homes that are discussed in this post. Here’s a closer look:

  • Modular, manufactured and mobile homes are all factory-built homes that are transported, typically by flatbed truck, to the lot for placement and/or assembly.
  • Mobile homes and manufactured homes are essentially the same types of home – the key differentiators between the two include the timeline in which it was built and the quality of its construction.
  • Though manufactured homes may be placed on a concrete foundation, most manufactured homes and mobile homes usually require lot securement through tie-downs.
  • Manufactured and modular homes typically arrive in either one or two pieces and need to be assembled on the site.
  • Manufactured homes are constructed according to HUD standards and codes, while modular homes must meet the local and state building requirements of wherever they’re going to be assembled.

Key Differences

While modular, manufactured and mobile homes have several things in common, they also have some striking differences:

  • Manufactured and modular homes are typically built much better than mobile homes. This mainly has to do with the fact that mobile homes didn’t have to follow as strict of standards prior to June 15, 1976. Once the HUD Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard Act was instituted on June 15, 1976, manufactured homes had to meet a lot more stringent guidelines. This has equated to a better overall product in today’s manufactured homes.
  • Modular homes, unlike mobile and manufactured homes, cannot be moved once they’ve been assembled.
  • Since they’re designed to look like and include the features of conventional single-family homes, modular homes are typically much more expensive than mobile and manufactured homes.
  • Modular homes are usually assembled over basements or crawlspaces, and don’t need to be secured via tie-downs like mobile and manufactured homes


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