Is it a mobile home or manufactured home? We’ll put the question to rest once and for all!
Every article on MHL uses the words mobile home or manufactured home at least once. I checked.
Since the terms ‘mobile home’ and ‘manufactured home’ have been the subject of great controversy, we wanted to make sure everyone understood what the terms mean and why the industry puts so much importance on them.
The Birth of Manufactured Homes
The term ‘manufactured home’ was brought to us by a very significant event in the housing industry, the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards that took effect on June 15, 1976. HUD regulates these standards.
Poor quality control and customer service issues have plagued the factory-built housing industry since the first unit came off the assembly line in the late 1920’s. By the early 1970’s the industry had a reputation for building unsafe, unstable tin cans that fell apart quickly. Only a handful of builders were providing quality homes and customer service.
They needed to do something to turn their reputation around and they did, sorta.
A couple congressmen just so happened to be working on a new bill that would put safety and quality measures on the homes. The industry backed the bill (within reason though, as a few details were adjusted) and used the new rules as a foundation to shed their old reputation.
June 15, 1976, plays a pivotal role in the factory-built housing world and how they went about fixing some of their issues. From that day forward, any structure built in a factory on a chassis and intended for full-time living had to meet minimum standards for energy efficiency, insulation, safety, and construction regulations that were defined by the Safety Act.
This is a fantastic remodeled vintage mobile home built in 1959. See the rest of it here.
New Home. New Name.
The industry took advantage of this new law and used it as a catalyst to change the name of the homes from mobile home to manufactured home. After all, the homes that had to meet these new standards were completely different than the homes that had been coming off the assembly line.
Manufactured homes were a better product and thus deserved a better name. And so, the manufactured home was born, again.
This is a manufactured home built after June 15, 1976.
Manufactured homes have a strict code that must be followed and reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fund (HUD) for their durability, strength, fire codes, energy efficiency, and their overall quality.
Things were going fairly well after the new safety standards took hold but the industry was having a hard time convincing the public that these new homes were different from the previous homes offered just a couple of years before.
So the industry began a massive marketing blitz, and in a marketing stroke of genius, they somehow managed to get a politician to sponsor a bill in our Nation’s Capital stating that all government sponsored and printed literature could only use the term ‘manufactured home.’
This is a manufactured home built after June 15, 1976, by Palm Harbour Homes.
The term ‘mobile home’ was dead to the industry, and the government regulating it, but not to the people living in them.
Because they were unable to sponsor a bill that forced consumers to stop using the term mobile homes, the term is used as much today as it was 40 years ago and it drives the industry mad!
Admittedly, when I started this blog in 2011, I had no idea there was a difference between mobile homes and manufactured homes. I’m from WV and had only heard the words mobile home or trailer whenever the topic came up. Manufactured home was all fancy sounding and I ain’t fancy.
Once Mobile Home Living began getting popular, the industry made sure to educate me on the matter. You can read about that here:
Related: NO, I will not stop using the term mobile home. Get over it!
This 1959 Spartan Imperial Mansion is a mobile home because it was built before June 15, 1976.
So is it a Mobile Home or Manufactured Home?
To put it simply, your home is either a mobile home or a manufactured home. It cannot be both.
A mobile home was built in a factory before June 15, 1976.
A manufactured home was built after June 15, 1976, when the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act went into effect.
Nowadays, whenever you hear the term ‘mobile home’ used the speaker is probably talking about a manufactured home. Less than 10% of all factory built housing still in use was built before June 15, 1976. It’s used on MHL most often when we get to feature an impressive vintage home or when an older home is remodeled.
While a mobile home is different from a manufactured home, the two terms are used interchangeably. It makes for a difficult conversation and makes writing about the homes a bit more complicated than most realize.
When it gets right down to it, though, it’s just a home.
Whether mobile or manufactured, the word home always follows so that is what I’d like to stress most. Yes, there is a difference but both are our homes. Whether your home is 30 years or 3, it’s a home and that’s all that matters.
Keeping our family warm and dry is all that matters. Being able to keep them warm and dry in a stylish home that cost less is pretty impressive, though!
Thanks for reading Mobile AND MANUFACTURED Home Living! ;)