What Is a Manufactured Home?

Figuring out exactly what a manufactured home is can be confusing with all the ways the term is used and what its associated with. We mean to set the record straight on what a manufactured home and what it is not. Terms like mobile home, trailer, etc are commonly used interchangeably with the term manufactured home and technically speaking you would be referring to quite different types of dwellings. So let us separate the facts from fiction!

What Is a Manufactured Home: Basics and History

The term “manufactured home” came into existence in 1976 with the enacting of the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act. Before this point, small, pre-manufactured homes were not subject to strict safety guidelines, and Congress acted to protect the safety of individuals living in these types of dwellings.

By law, manufactured homes must be built according to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code), and they must feature red certification levels on each movable section. These types of homes are built in controlled manufacturing environments, and they are transported section by section.

Manufactured homes may consist of single sections, or they may consist of multiple sections that are assembled once every part has arrived at the home site. Each section is built on a permanent chassis, which means that it’s possible to move a mobile home again once it has reached its destination.

While manufactured homes are smaller than most types of conventional homes, they have all of the amenities of modern living. These types of homes may be equipped with as many as five bedrooms, and they have kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms. In addition, manufactured homes often have patios and carports. Unlike a traditional home, however, a manufactured home is limited to a single level.

Popular vs. Technical Usage of the Term “Manufactured Home”

While the terms “mobile home” and “manufactured home” are frequently used interchangeably, these terms actually refer to different types of dwellings. Prior to 1976, mobile homes, which were also known as “trailer homes,” were made with limited regulatory oversight. As such, these types of homes were not very safe, and they were more prone to fires, electrical issues, and plumbing problems than modern manufactured homes that have been built according to HUD regulations. Pre-1976 mobile homes are more similar to contemporary travel trailers than they are to manufactured homes. Like travel trailers, they have exposed wheels, and they are easier to tow than manufactured homes.

Manufactured homes are also different from modular homes. While both manufactured and modular homes are made in factory environments, modular homes are installed on conventional concrete foundations, and they cannot be moved after they are installed. Modular homes are also subject to different regulatory oversight than manufactured homes, and they are generally treated the same as any other type of home that you might see in a suburban neighborhood.

How Do You Buy a Manufactured Home?

It’s possible to buy manufactured homes outright with cash, but it’s also possible to purchase these homes with conventional real estate mortgages. However, the most common method of financing manufactured homes is through retail installment contracts, which are negotiated with the sellers of manufactured homes. Consumers who are interested in purchasing or renting manufactured homes can rely on the resources offered by the HUD Office of Housing Counseling for assistance in the purchasing process.

How Do You Repair a Manufactured Home?

If a manufactured home is damaged in transit, the damage is most likely the fault of the retailer, and this party will reimburse the homeowner for the cost of repairs. In addition, some manufactured homes may come with HUD-approved warranties that provide owners of these types of dwellings with purchase protection for a set amount of time.

Manufactured homes that arrive intact and are not equipped with or are beyond the limits of HUD warranties, however, will need to be repaired at the owner’s discretion. Most communities are home to at least one manufactured home repair company that can help owners of these types of dwellings with professional repair services. It’s also possible for homeowners to repair their homes themselves if they learn the basics of manufactured home maintenance.


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