Here we state some basic manufactured home facts and answer some basic questions for you. There’s a whole page of frequently asked questions here.

Most proponents of manufactured housing has never lived in one or been around one for that matter. They don’t understand the basic facts about how they are made or what they are all about: affordable housing built in a factory with very high standards. It’s really that simple.

Yes, there was some manufactures that did not put a quality product out. They focused on quantity and not quality and the homes, the people that bought them and the industry suffered immensely for it. That’s why the HUD code was brought to congress in 1974. It was supported by manufactures that understood quality was they only way to make the industry stronger and able to survive.

The manufactured housing industry as a whole has came to agree on a few simple things that can help the stereotype. Educate the ignorant is the first step. Teach them about the homes and let them realize that the days of super cheap and horrible construction are gone. Here’s the facts that they want everyone to know:

What is a manufactured home?

A manufactured home is the proper term for any home built to HUD Code standards that was adopted by Congress in 1974 and went into effect on June 15, 1976. It is a factory built home built after June 15, 1976.

What is a mobile home?

“Mobile home” is the term used to describe homes built before June 15, 1976 when the HUD code went into effect and after 1953. Before 1953, the term ‘trailer’ was used to describe the homes. As the homes progressed, it was necessary to use new terminology to describe the difference in travel trailers and the new permanent, factory-built homes that were being produced. To learn more about the history of mobile and manufactured homes, read our The History of Mobile Homes.

The industry states that the term ‘mobile home’ should not be used to describe homes built after June 15 of 1976.

Are manufactured homes mobile?

Most any home can be moved. The steel frame under a manufactured home makes its relocation, should it be necessary, easier. Manufactured homes can either be placed on a lot with a permanent foundation and on leased or owned land.

You can move a stick-built home, too, so the mobility of a home has little bearing on the quality of construction. Putting a manufactured home on a chassis is simply a more convenient way to build a home in a factory.

Are manufactured homes permanent?

Manufactured homes can be sited on a parcel of land just as a home can be built there. In this case, they can be designed so as to be indistinguishable from conventional site built homes. Manufactured homes can also be placed in a land-lease community where the home is owned and placed on leased land.

English: Side walls are attached to floor
 Side walls are attached to floor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is the difference between modular and manufactured homes?

Modular homes are built to the state, local or regional code where the home will be located. Modules are transported to the site and installed. A manufactured home is a house constructed entirely in a controlled factory environment and built to the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD code). The most recent amendment to the HUD Code is the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA 2000).

Is it ok to use the word “trailer?”

What the ‘industry’ says: No. Trailer is an outdated, derogatory slang term for a mobile home and should not be used. Likewise the word “trailer park” should not be used. The correct term is mobile home or manufactured home community or land lease community.

What I say: The word ‘trailer’ is simply a word, as is ‘mobile home’. It’s your home, call it what you want!  I believe only negative people associate negative things to words. Manufactured homes have a very interesting history, especially if you like to read about social and economical impacts of new products or services that completely change a societies way of life – trailers and mobile homes took our country by storm! The term trailer shouldn’t conjure up images of poor  people – it should conjure up images of social impact and progress (especially if you know your 20th Century history).

Are manufactured homes safe?

Yes. Manufactured homes are built to the HUD Code which is a performance-based construction and safety standard. Homes are built to regional conditions. Research has shown manufactured homes can withstand weather events like hurricanes as well as or better than site-built homes. (More on this here) Insurance studies reflect the fact that manufactured homes today are designed to prevent fires, and have features designed to inhibit and limit the damage caused should a fire occur. 99% of the things you think you know about a manufactured home is most likely false  – they are safer than stick-built homes and have 50% less deaths by fire.

Are manufactured homes energy-efficient?

Yes. All manufactured homes have specific energy efficiency standards set by the federal government in the HUD Code. For example, manufactured homes built after October, 1994 are required to be insulated to the geographic zone they are designed for, must have double-pane windows and must have ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms. While the HUD minimum standards are helping to reduce energy costs for manufactured home buyers, several manufacturers are building homes that exceed the minimum HUD insulation standards, and that have advanced energy-efficient ventilation systems to maintain healthy indoor air quality even with very tight construction. Such homes use 30-50 percent less energy for space heating than homes built to the minimum HUD standards. Several manufacturers are partners in the Energy Star program. An Energy Star qualified manufactured home is a home that has been designed, produced, and installed in accordance with Energy Star’s guidelines by an Energy Star certified plant.

Is it more difficult to finance the purchase of a manufactured home?

Manufactured homes not situated on owned land are considered chattel. Chattel is a real estate industry term used to describe property not legally tied to the land where it may be permanently sited. Buildings affixed to land are known as real property. Financing a manufactured home as real property is much the same as financing any other home. Loans on chattel may have fewer financing options and have higher interest rates than conventional property loans, but there are companies that offer competitive rates and terms. Because of their value as affordable housing, federal law mandates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (The so-called GSEs now under the FHFA jurisdiction) provide chattel loans for the purchase of manufactured homes, but those organizations have not lived up to their government mandate.

Zoning issues have come up in local government meetings. Does the HUD code prevent zoning restrictions of manufactured housing?

Many experts think specific language in the HUD code should prevent local restrictions on manufactured housing. This is called preemption. It’s based in the fact that manufactured housing is built to the HUD code, which preempts local building codes. Many agree the federal law should prevent local governments from regulating the placement, appearance, definition and construction of manufactured homes; however, HUD has not been active in enforcing preemption, leaving its full authority over these matters untested in recent years. The actual language of the MHIA of 2000 says that preemption should be broadly and liberally interpreted.
The legislation reads:
Federal preemption under this subsection shall be broadly and liberally construed to ensure that disparate State or local requirements or standards do not affect the uniformity and comprehensiveness of the standards promulgated under this section nor the Federal superintendence of the manufactured housing industry as established by this title. Subject to section 605, there is reserved to each State the right to establish standards for the stabilizing and support systems of manufactured homes sited within that State, and for the foundations on which manufactured homes sited within that State are installed, and the right to enforce compliance with such standards, except that such standards shall be consistent with the purposes of this title and shall be consistent with the design of the manufacturer.
The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform, (MHARR), the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and many state manufactured housing associations work to promote a proper understanding of the HUD Code’s preemptive status when issues arise.

As always thank you so much for reading Mobile and Manufactured Home Living!

 

3 Responses

  1. Jason

    Hi Crystal,

    Thank you so much for writing this article. I found it very informative and encouraging!
    I agree- there is not enough inspiration for manufactured home owners, and the stereotypes surrounding manufactured homes needs to be combated. Thanks to your article, I have recently decided to pursue the financing of a manufactured home:)

    Regards,
    Jason

    Reply
  2. Jeani Crowe

    Hi Crystal, I am a frequent reader of your site. I just wanted to add a couple of comments. I am also a follower of the tiny house movement. In your intro to this particular column, you noted that many of the people who are fans of mobiles don’t really know anything about them. It is also true of the tiny house movement. I have spent a number or years in ‘trailer houses’- a 1943 Zimmer and a 1947 8’X40′ (actually only 37 1/2 because the hitch is included in the length) that is an almost perfect double for the ‘long long trailer’. I spent another 10 years in a 10 wide with a fold out living/dining room. Those trailers were amazingly well planned and well built and I loved every minute in them. We pulled the 40 foot trailer over the Sierra Nevada’s with a Uhaul truck. I think that the tiny houses, although really attractive on the outside, rarely manage to add the livability of those old trailers. I wish more people would take another look at the old 8 and 10 wides. Many people who could benefit from living in these kinds of structures are prevented from considering it by the prejudices instigated by those who know nothing of the benefits that can be derived from one of these homes; a smaller carbon footprint, vastly reduced utility costs and a simplified life due to the fact that you must choose only the things you absolutely need for your tiny space. Who among us doesn’t own too much stuff? Even the most modest trailer park will allow a storage building, so you can keep seasonal clothes, outdoor equipment and change of season decorating items on hand. Now that we are in our 70’s, my husband and I intend to return to that life style. It only takes one outgoing person to pull a whole park together in friendship. Everyone may not want to join the weekly barbeque, but almost everyone is willing to exchange a friendly smile and keep an eye on each other. More ‘trailer parks’ is exactly what this country needs.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Jeani!

      It’s great to hear from you! I agree 100% – we do need more good parks available with an emphasis on community. Personally, I can’t wait to be able to move into a great park after I turn 55. I’m counting the days down – it just seems like my kind of paradise!

      Thank you so much for reading MHL and for taking the time to comment!

      Reply

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