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.

 

vintage mobile home - mobile home or manufactured home

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.

 

mobile home or manufactured home?

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.’

 

Palm Harbor Manufactured Floor Plan - Elevation Rendering - mobile home or 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! 

 

 

a mobile home or manufactured home 1

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.

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! ;) 

11 Responses

  1. Northern Gal

    Thank you for your article explaining the difference between a “mobile home” and a “manufactured home”. We recently (2017) purchased a single wide manufactured home for the simple fact it was built in a factory and delivered to the property. Almost no fuss, no muss building. LOL
    The most frustrating part of the process was dealing with the bank. We learned that banks in our area do not have a good understanding of the difference between the two. Most still have their mindset stuck in the 70’s.
    The bank which we went with is in the process of reviewing their policy for financing manufactured homes. In the meantime though, they limit the amount of financing they are willing to give to purchasers of manufactured homes. I’m sending this article link to the mortgage rep which we work with.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Congratulations on your new home!

      There are a lot of regulations on financing manufactured homes! I kinda have a love/hate opinion on all that – the rules were put into place because the industry (dealer financing and private lending institutions mostly) were doing a lot of shady things and ripping a lot of people off. I’m hoping there can be a happy medium found that protects the buyers well but allows for more competition in lending. Fingers crossed!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  2. Iris Sandkuhler

    Hi Crystal!

    This was a very interesting article. My parents bought their double-wide “mobile home” in 1975. The sales person emphasized that it was built to housing specifications and therefore would appreciate like a house. [It did not, since everyone continued to view it as a mobile home.] So this must have been the transition point for laws/definitions of mobile vs. manufactured.

    I own this property now (located in sub-tropical NC), and have been slowly renovating for the last 6 years beginning with the crawl space underneath, which had turned into a tropical rain forest and petri dish. I’m uploading some Tumblr photos to document my progress and hope to share them with you in the not too distant future.

    The property had served as a second home (beach vacation) but in June will be our landing pad after fleeing the San Francisco Bay Area because of the high rents. Our last place jumped from 4k per month to 8k. Eeek! Compared to 500.00 per month for the (paid for) double wide sitting on it’s own land in Coastal NC.

    -Iris

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Iris!

      Welcome (back) home to the right coast! The appreciation/depreciation issue is complex – manufactured homes can and do appreciate at about the same rate as a site-built home if they are permanently installed on the land (the land is the catalyst for the home to increase in value).
      I’ve been seeing some crazy home prices in California! I just featured a double wide that was on the market for around $200k (it was gorgeous!).

      Let me know when you get your Tumblr setup!

      Reply
  3. Hunter Hampton

    This article gave me a chuckle. When I was buying my home, built in 2006, I mentioned something about it being a mobile home. The seller got all haired up and told me it was a “manufactured home” LOL, I just call it a doublewide.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      They do get a little huffy when ‘mobile home’ is used. It’s kinda fun to see the reactions..(Always good to hear from you Hunter!)

      Reply
  4. Lois

    When it comes up, I like to say that “I live in a formerly mobile, but now immobile, home.”

    Reply
  5. Jennie Duncan

    Hello Crystal!
    I’ve been receiving your newsletters on a frequent basis and enjoy reading about all the different types of “mobile” & “manufactured” homes that are showcased in your newsletters! I’m also an owner of one of these “manufactured” homes – since 2006 – and I’ve also been confused about the terminology of these dwellings too! I have found a “tag” on my home that has a date of 1977, so I’m guessing that this is the date that it was made or manufactured. Too bad the company [Prestige] that made this home I purchased back in 2006, probably didn’t get the “memo” about the insulation issues from HUD! I don’t believe there is any insulation at all behind the walls of my place! All I can tell you is that in the winter, it gets very cold inside with about a 10-degree difference than outside [hence the higher gas usage] and in the summer time, it gets hotter inside also with a 10-degree difference! Luckily for me, I have a swamp cooler [on the roof] that doesn’t cost a lot of electricity to run.
    You mentioned that we could send you photos of the homes we live in and the “remodeled” rooms that have been completed – can you tell me again how to submit photos to you. I’d like to share some of my rooms that have been redone. I’m also in the process of “rehabbing” my back bathroom and would like to share some “before & after” photos of this room, once it’s completed. It’s been a slow progress with this room, because I had made making great strides with this room & then broke my left wrist in Aug. 2016. Since then, this room “rehab” has been on the back burner. After reading your article titled — “Is it a Mobile or Manufactured Home” – at least now I know what I actually live in — a “manufactured” home!! :) Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Jennie!

      The insulation regulations from the 70’s are laughable compared to today’s standards. Energy consumption and efficiency just weren’t an issue back then. You can add new insulation in the walls but it’s a big upfront expense though the savings over time will be worth it.

      My email is crystaladkins@mobilehomeliving.org. I’m always looking for great homes and rooms to feature. I look forward to getting your email!

      Reply
  6. Carla Medina

    please contact me privately, as I would like to use your article in our community newsletter. I will provide your name as the writer and the url where one can find the article. We are a small community of 350 home sites. We have gone through several editors for our newsletter. I believe it has to do with content. I would like to use your article to “upgrade” the language of the community as we are still called a mobile home park. I believe we are a manufactured home community. Of course, my home was built in 2004. I am a volunteer trying to make our newsletter worthy of reading. Thank you for you consideration.

    Reply
    • Crystal Adkins

      Hi Carla,

      You are more than welcome to use any content you want. All I ask is that you tell your readers about us (and if one of my other writers wrote an article you want to use please reference them, if possible).

      While the mobile versus manufactured home label is simple, the mobile home park versus manufactured home community is still a debated topic. I’m not sure if there’s any legislature on that…lol

      Reply

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