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Is it a Mobile Home or Manufactured Home?

We’re putting the question, is it a mobile home or a manufactured home, to rest once and for all.

The terms ‘mobile home‘ and ‘manufactured home‘ have been the subject of great controversy. Because of that, we wanted to make sure everyone understood exactly what the terms mean and why the industry puts so much importance on them.

A mobile home is a factory-built house built before July 1, 1976 before the HUD code became law. This law regulated many things about the homes: fire safety, insulation minimums, and construction regulations. Mobile homes built before this date did not meet these industry standards.

A manufactured home is a factory-built house that was built after July 1, 1976 and meets all the proper HUD regulations set forth for that year.

HUD regulations have been updated several times since 1976. Each new regulation has improved the homes to the point that many models are built better than a site-built home constructed the same year. The manufactured home will have 2″x6″ framing with high pitched roofs and high-value insulation. The windows and doors and appliances meet Energy Star standards.

A single wide manufactured home:

fully renovated single wide manufactured home - exterior 2
A single wide manufactured home.

Single section mobile homes and manufactured homes are built on steel chassis and transported whole to the property. Multi-section homes, such as a double wide, are also built on steel chassis but they are connected together at the home site. A double wide will have two sections. A triple wide will have three.

A double wide manufactured home:

A double wide manufactured home. Remodeled Double Wide for sale in CA (15)
A double wide manufactured home.

The History 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, predatory lending practices, and customer service issues have plagued the factory-built housing industry since 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, kinda.

Congress was working on a new bill that would put safety and quality measures on mobile homes. Many deaths were contributed to the mobile home’s poor construction and unsafe layouts (no second doors).  The industry worked with Congress on this bill to fix the most glaring issues such as fire safety, and minimal energy efficiencies. They also used the new bill 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 a manufactured home. They needed to shed the stigmas and stereotypes attached to mobile homes desperately.

In their eyes, manufactured homes were a better product and thus deserved a better name. And so, the manufactured home was born, again.

is it a mobile home or manufactured home?

This is half of a double wide manufactured home built after June 15, 1976.

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 actually different from the homes offered just a couple of years before.

To remedy this, the industry began a massive marketing blitz. In a marketing stroke of genius, they somehow managed to get a politician to sponsor a bill in DC stating that all government sponsored and printed literature could only use the term ‘manufactured home.’

The term ‘mobile home’ was officially dead to the industry and the government regulating it but not to the people living in them or buying them.  

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.

Unfortunately for them, the industry couldn’t sponsor a bill forcing consumers to stop using the term mobile home. The term mobile home 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. The term ‘manufactured home’ was fancy sounding and I assure you 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 in our article, 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.

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 today was built before June 15, 1976.

While a mobile home is different from a manufactured home, the two terms are used interchangeably here on Mobile Home Living. I apologize for that but as a blogger, I’m supposed to write articles on topics that are most searched for on Google Search. That’s the whole point of a blog or website: to answer questions and to give people content they want to see. 90% of the time readers are searching Google for ‘mobile home skirting’ when they really mean ‘manufactured home skirting.’ See my issue?

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 between mobile and manufactured but they are both homes. Whether your home is 30 years old or 3, it’s a home and that’s all that matters.

Thanks for reading Mobile Home Living! 

Crystal Adkins created Mobile Home Living in 2011 after buying a 1978 single wide and searching online for mobile home remodeling ideas but finding very little. Today, it's the most popular resource in America for mobile home information and inspiration and has been visited over 40 million times.



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