There is a lot of misinformation about manufactured homes in this nation. Most of the uninformed believe lies that revolve around a mobile home’s construction or the people living in them. We’re going to clear all that up in this article.
Real Manufactured Home Facts and Figures
We share these manufactured home facts with hopes to educate and cut through the misunderstandings and outright lies that have plagued the homes for decades.
Manufactured homes are affordable because they are built in a factory (with very high standards).
The 3 Levels of Build Quality
There are three ‘levels’ of manufactured housing models. The most affordable models are the most popular. Their lower cost is due to cheaper materials and construction techniques such as using staples instead of nails. This doesn’t mean they are an inferior home – they are just made for families that don’t need a lot of bells or whistles. Learn more about The 3 Levels of Manufactured Homes Quality and Price here.
Yes, there have been a ton of builders that did not have a quality product. They simply focused on quantity and not quality. This lack of quality created a stereotype that all mobile homes were unsafe tin cans.
The homes and the awesome 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 manufacturers that understood quality was the only way to make the industry stronger and able to survive.
Manufactured Home Facts Everyone Should Know
The manufactured housing industry, as a whole, believes that education is the most important weapon against the mistruths and stereotypes. Knowledge is power, after all. So let’s get smart about mobile and manufactured homes with these manufactured home facts everyone should know:
What is a manufactured home?
‘Manufactured home’ is the proper term for a home built to HUD Code standards that were adopted by Congress in 1974 and went into effect on June 15, 1976. Simply put, a manufactured home 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 in a factory before June 15, 1976, when the HUD code went into effect. The industry used the HUD code as a catalyst to rebrand the homes as ‘manufactured’ instead of just ‘mobile’. These newly regulated homes were far safer and had much higher standards of quality compared to the mobile homes. They weren’t so mobile anymore.
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. I state that we should call our homes any dang thing we want. You can read more about my rebellion here: No, I Will Not Stop Using the Term ‘Mobile Home’ – Get Over It
Are manufactured homes mobile?
Yes, manufactured homes are moveable but it will take specialized trucks and equipment so it isn’t easy (or cheap).
Only 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.
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?
The industry would probably have a heartattack if they heard anyone use the term trailer.
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.
The term mobile home is fine with me but ‘trailer’ should be used for campers that you tow behind your vehicle or vintage mobile homes made before 1954 (when the Trailer Coach Association of America renamed themselves The Mobile Home Association).
Are manufactured homes safe?
Yes. Yes. Yes. 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.
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% fewer 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 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. Learn about Replacing Mobile Home Windows here.
Is it more difficult to finance the purchase of a manufactured home?
Unfortunately, yes. Manufactured homes that are not attached to 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. 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.
Homes that are affixed to owned land are known as real property. Financing a manufactured home as real property is much the same as financing any other home. Because of their value as affordable housing, federal law mandates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide chattel loans for the purchase of manufactured homes, but those organizations have not lived up to their government mandate.
Many local governments restrict manufactured homes with zoning and land use regulations. Why?
Because the stigmas and stereotypes associated with manufactured homes are alive and well. This also happens when personal opinion trumps proved facts and data.
Many experts think the specific language in the HUD code should prevent local governments from restricting manufactured home in their cities.
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:
As always thank you so much for reading Mobile Home Living!
18 thoughts on “Manufactured Home Facts Everyone Should Know”
I am considering buying a mobile home built in 1974 and I was researching how long do mobile homes last for, an article said they only last about 25 to 50 years. I saw the home had a few cosmetic issues like the ceiling and floor had some small gaps in between the edges but everything else look good. I was wondering do mobile homes last about 25 to 50 years?
As long as the home’s bones are good the home will last as long as any stick-built home as long as you maintain it.
§3282.12 Excluded structures—modular homes.
(a) The purpose of this section is to provide the certification
procedure authorized by section 604(h) of the National Manufactured
Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act under which modular
homes may be excluded from coverage of the Act if the manufacturer of
the structure elects to have them excluded. If a manufacturer wishes
to construct a structure that is both a manufactured home and a
modular home, the manufacturer need not make the certification
provided for by this section and may meet both the Federal
manufactured home requirements and any modular housing requirements.
When the certification is not made, all provisions of the Federal
requirements shall be met.
(b) Any structure that meets the definition of manufactured home at 24
CFR 3282.7(u) is excluded from the coverage of the National
Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, 42 U.S.C.
5401 et seq., if the manufacturer certifies as prescribed in paragraph
(c) of this section that:
(1) The structure is designed only for erection or installation on a
site-built permanent foundation;
(i) A structure meets this criterion if all written materials and
communications relating to installation of the structure, including
but not limited to designs, drawings, and installation or erection
instructions, indicate that the structure is to be installed on a
(ii) A site-built permanent foundation is a system of supports,
including piers, either partially or entirely below grade which is:
(A) Capable of transferring all design loads imposed by or upon the
structure into soil or bedrock without failure,
(B) Placed at an adequate depth below grade to prevent frost damage, and
(C) Constructed of concrete, metal, treated lumber or wood, or grouted
(2) The structure is not designed to be moved once erected or installed
on a site-built permanent foundation;
(i) A structure meets this criterion if all written materials and
communications relating to erection or installation of the structure,
including but not limited to designs, drawings, calculations, and
installation or erection instructions, indicate that the structure is
not intended to be moved after it is erected or installed and if the
towing hitch or running gear, which includes axles, brakes, wheels and
other parts of the chassis that operate only during transportation,
are removable and designed to be removed prior to erection or
installation on a site-built permanent foundation; and
(3) The structure is designed and manufactured to comply with the
currently effective version of one of the following:
(i) One of the following nationally recognized building codes:
(A) That published by Building Officials and Code Administrators
(BOCA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and made up
of the following:
(1) BOCA Basic Building Code,
(2) BOCA Basic Industrialized Dwelling Code,
(3) BOCA Basic Plumbing Code,
(4) BOCA Basic Mechanical Code, and
(5) National Electrical Code, or
(B) That published by the Southern Building Code Congress (SBCC) and
the NFPA and made up of the following:
(1) Standard Building Code,
(2) Standard Gas Code,
(3) Standard Mechanical Code,
(4) Standard Plumbing Code, and
(5) National Electrical Code, or
(C) That published by the International Conference of Building
Officials (ICBO), the International Association of Plumbing and
Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), and the NFPA and made up of the
(1) Uniform Building Code,
(2) Uniform Mechanical Code,
(3) Uniform Plumbing Code, and
(4) National Electrical Code
On 2020-05-01 12:15, email@example.com wrote:
We are buying a 1976 doublewide home on the lake. The only problem I have are the low ceilings. Is there anyway to raise a ceiling in a mobile home?
Single wides have what I’ve heard called as “top-down” structural integrity, meaning all the integrity of the home is being supported or helpd together by the ceiling trusses. If you modify those you would need to give the walls new support and foundation. That means you’d basically be building a site-built home around the mobile home while it remains classified as a mobile home (in most instances). You may get lucky and have space to push the ceiling panels up closer to the trusses. I’ve also seen single wides have all the ceiling panels removed and the trusses stay but that would require a new insulated roof.
In short, yes, it’s possible but it would be a ton of work and money. This article may help you though: 5 Ways to Make Low Ceilings Appear Higher in Mobile Homes
Congratulations on your new home!
hello. we just bought a 14×70 mobile home, a year ago, in a court for over 50. it seems nice. we do not know much about this home,how it was built, its a 1986 Victorian, the roof and siding look good, furnace , plumbing , look good, but we don’t know any more. my husband crawled under, and he says all looks good. we rented apt’s for years, and its not nice, I don’t like all the crap you encounter. this seems a lot better. I guess if you are going to retire, this is ok, if you don’t have money, to do anything else. im disabled and I wish it had more safety features in the bathroom, but you deal with what you have. anyway, good reading, thanks
Thank you so much for your website. It is very informative & encouraging. Like you say, there is almost no information on the internet about mobile home living. My husband & I bought our ’91 14X70 Atlantic home in 2015. It had been in very poor condition, but the previous owner did alot of work on it; & we had more work done. This is our retirement home; we moved from a cottage style home in town to this beautiful location on a wooded hill in the country. Our neighborhood in town had deteriated greatly through our 35 years of living there & was no longer safe. Basically, this is all we could afford, but is paid for & that means alot. we have 12 acres & it’s very beautiful & peaceful & we love it. True friends like us no matter where we live; & our kids have to accept it.
Thanks you so much for the kind words. I appreciate you taking the time to comment, too! Your home sounds gorgeous! 12 acres is a good size of property. A 14×70 is a great size for two retirees.
I hope to hear from you again! You should sign up for our newsletter using the form at the bottom of the article. Thank you!!
I was surfing the net and came across your site. Very interesting reading. I read your comments under the heading entitled “Zoning issues have come up in local government meetings. Does the HUD code prevent zoning restrictions of manufactured housing?” and immediately thought about the “Statement of Policy” HUD published in the Federal Register on May 5th, 1997, regarding clarification that a HUD-coded home cannot be treated any differently than a structure built to a State or Local Code (Modular Homes). You may find additional guidance and support from a State’s SAA should you run across any local jurisdiction which is attempting to exclude or restrict the installation of Manufactured Housing in their community. (If your unable to find a copy, email me).
Thank you! I’m trying to learn about all the HUD regulations and rules but there’s just so much of it I can’t keep up. Thanks for the heads-up!
Hi Crystal, I am buying a brand new Imperial 2017 Manufactured Home in Broward County, Fl. It is new and never lived in but I cannot find a manufacture home Inspector in the area. Do you have any references? I am too old to crawl under the home to see if it has the required Tie Downs and I do not understand as to why there is no A/C unit inside along with the water heater. I was told the water heater was in the Masterbedroom closet and not visible and covered with a temporary wall with wing nuts. Is this normal. There is a A/C fan system outside in the rear of the home. Thanks
Contact McGarry and Madsen Home Inspection at this website (link). They will either be able to do it themselves or they can give you a qualified recommendation.
It is absolutely normal for a water heater to be behind a wall in a central location for all plumbing fixtures. Cooling units are placed outside due to the condensation – you would have water everywhere if they put a large air conditioner unit in the home.
Best of luck and congratulations on your new home!
Hi there; I just came across your website as I have been researching places to live after I sell my home, and frankly, I’m scared stiff. I have 3 cats and so townhome living sounds like my only option at this point. I really don’t want to give them away. I also know nothing about the whole process of purchasing a home and so I don’t trust myself to know a good deal from a bad one. I do have a good reference or two as far as a realtor goes. I have heard horror stories about manufactured homes. this site eases my mind somewhat; Utah has nasty east winds and the occasional funnel cloud, and yes, we are on a fault line. – – LeeAnn
You’ll find something! You’ll want to take your time and not settle whether it’s a condo or a mobile home. The structure is what matters most on mobile homes – the flooring, roofing, walls, windows, etc. Cosmetic issues are fixable. Hire a trustworthy realtor that is knowledgeable about mobile homes (and isn’t biased against them) and an inspector that is trustworthy. They will both be worth every dime you pay.
Best of luck!
I want to reside my double wide mobile home. I have found that there are horizontal ‘furring’ strips on the outside of the wall studs that the metal siding is attached to. I don’t have a clue how to deal with that. Any suggestions?
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:)
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.
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!