Ever wondered who builds the best manufactured homes or what determines a good factory-built home from a bad one?
Manufactured housing experts will always tell you that it’s all about the construction specs. The size and quality of the materials used in a manufactured home is the best determination of its overall quality and they aren’t wrong. The materials and construction are the top signs of a quality home. But nowadays, there isn’t much difference in building technique and materials between each company. At last count, we have around 61 different manufactured home builder or brands in the US. However, only 10 of those brands build 80% of all manufactured homes in the US.
Even with different factories, there won’t be too many differences between the brands and models. The entry-level home built by Marlette isn’t going to be much different from an entry-level model made at a Norris factory. They are both Clayton Homes and likely get their materials from the same suppliers (likely owned by Clayton Homes).
Therefore, we need to look beyond construction specs to find the best manufactured homes.
Factors that Determine the Quality of a Manufactured Home
In this article, we look at a few other factors that need to be considered in the hunt for the best manufactured homes. We’ll also share a few brands that seem to be doing a decent job at most of them (at least from the outside looking in).
The most important factor for a great manufactured home is strong construction specs are the most important factor that determines the quality of a manufactured home but it isn’t the only factor. Read about the best upgrades to choose when buying a new manufactured home here.
The Factory’s Employees and Management
Another variable that determines the quality of the home is the people building it. There is a noticeable difference between homes built by people who care and people who don’t. That applies to factory-built and site-built.
The construction of a manufactured home is streamlined in every way. One company brags that they have less than 5% of waste. That’s pretty impressive.
However, homes are still constructed by people fro the most part. Still, when the crew building a manufactured home is well-trained and dedicated they will build better homes.
A lot of variables are at play in the factory. Issues such as which employees are working together, worker morale, the weather, and even what day of the week the home was built will influence its quality.
There’s a half-joking tip about factory-built items like cars and manufactured homes: you never want anything built in a factory on a Friday or a Monday. Fridays are bad because employees are ready for the weekend. Mondays are bad because they had that weekend.
Still, factory constructed homes have far fewer variables that could interfere with the home quality compared to site-built home construction.
After-Sale Service (Dealer/Builder Relationship)
The best manufactured homes will come from dealers that have excellent customer service after the sale.
The relationship between dealer and builder is crucial. Does the builder support the dealer and help them correct problems efficiently or is there a bunch of red-tape that both dealers and buyers need to maneuver through?
Do the dealer and builder play the blame game? The blame game is a well-known ploy in the industry. Since manufactured homes typically only have a 1-year warranty the dealer makes an effort to run that time out by claiming that the buyer’s problem is the builder’s responsibility. The builder pushes the blame back to the dealer and this goes on until the 1-year warranty is up.
Spend time to research how a dealer and builder handle issues after the sale.
Installation and Setup
Lastly, installation and set up play a huge role in the quest for the best manufactured homes.
I’ve read that 80% of all manufactured home buyers’ complaints are caused by improper or incomplete installation. If that is indeed true, it’s a fairly easy issue to handle: just make sure the best installers are installing your home.
You can have every inch of a home customized and stand in the factory to watch it being built but it won’t matter if it is installed improperly.
A luxury manufactured home installed incorrectly will age quicker and have more issues than an entry-level model that has been installed correctly.
What Makes the Best Manufactured Homes?
Most builders are offering a model with at least a few of the following amenities and features. Regardless of who builds it, the best manufactured homes will have:
- 2×6 with 16″ OC exterior wall studs
- 2×4 with16″ OC interior studs
- Roof pitch at least 4/12 (the higher the better) along with a minimum of R-38 Insulation
- 9′ Sidewalls with R-19 or more insulation
- Minimum 12″ eaves
- Plywood exterior sheathing
- Tyvek house wrap
- 50 gal quick return water heater
- PEX or copper water lines with a shut off at every water source
- Plywood decking (sub-flooring) that has been screwed
- 1/2″ Drywall with thicker molding and trims
- Larger front and rear doors
- 25″ wide countertops made from quality material
- Real wood or Melamine Cabinets with adjustable shelving
- Corian or Vitreous China bathroom fixtures
- Sheet metal HVAC ducting
Are These Brands Building the Best Manufactured Home?
Skyline Homes has some gorgeous models on the market. My neighbor had a double wide with log siding and huge end windows overlooking a deck. It was gorgeous.
Skyline Homes has a 15-month warranty which is why it’s on my best manufactured home list. Most other builders offer the federally mandated 1-year warranty.
Skyline Corporation and Champion Enterprises Holdings LLC recently merged and created Skyline Champion, the nation’s largest public factory home builder.
Clayton Homes is the largest manufactured home company in the US. Does that mean it’s the best manufactured home builder?
With the right upgrades and specs, the Bordeaux by Clayton Homes could be one of the best manufactured homes on the market. Or, at least one of the nicest.
Clayton Homes produces more factory-built homes in the US than any other company. Their experience alone should give them a lead in the race to build the best manufactuctured homes.
10 Gorgeous Manufactured Home Models on the Market Today
Palm Harbor Homes
Palm Harbor’s has an article on their blog with reviews from owners whose homes survived Hurricane Irma. One homeowner said she received very little damage even though the winds were clocked at 175 mph. That’s impressive.
Palm Harbor’s La Belle model could be another great manufactured home with the right specs.
I’m not too familiar with OakCreek Homes but they offer an extended 7-year home protection program. That’s not too shabby. Their website states that during the first year owners just dial a number and someone comes to the home and repairs it. After the first year and up to the seventh, they will reimburse owners for covered repairs.
Oakwood Homes released a new series line called the Magnificent Seven. It’s available in several floor plans and can have up to 5 bedrooms. You can learn more about the series here.
SilverCrest is part of Champion Homes. Their website states that “more than half of Silvercrest’s workforce has at least 10 years’ experience.” That makes a big difference in manufactured home construction.
Silvercrest also offers the Silvershield, a 7-Year Warranty. They are one of the only manufactured home builders in the Western U.S. that offers such a long-term warranty.
Silvercrest’s Bradford series home has all the specs we think make for the best manufactured homes:
Related: Learn about 27 manufactured home builders here.
Learn more about manufactured home builders in the book The Grissim Ratings Guide to Manufactured Homes (affiliate link).
Related: Read our best tips on buying a new manufactured home.
The hunt for the best manufactured homes is complex and there’s more to it than just than looking at construction specs though those are very important.
If installation errors really do cause 80% of all manufactured home complaints all potential home buyers need to put a lot more effort into finding the best installers in your area. Don’t just accept the crew that the salesperson recommends.
Also, please read our article with 30 expert tips for all manufactured home buyers.
Do you have any good experiences with a certain builder or model? Add it below – you may help a potential buyer find their dream home or avoid a bad experience.
As always, thank you so much for reading Mobile Home Living®!
Note: This post is not an advertisement for any builders or dealers. I’m simply sharing information that I think would be helpful to owners. I do not recommend one over another.
40 thoughts on “Which Brands Build the Best Manufactured Homes?”
has anyone bought palm harbor home?
Hi Crystal, finally, someone , (you, ) took the initiative to put together a non-bias site where people can review manufactured homes for quality pricing service and contractors who set them up and what to look for, this the first time I’ve seen one of these sights and i have appreciated reading all the reviews from all the consumers that got on here and shared pros or cons it really helps you define what kind of manufactured home you want , who you want to purchase it from , and what specs you were looking for , again not only am I grateful, I’m sure everyone that’s used your sight is also , thank you very much for your efforts , awesome job thank you Joe . P.s we Live in North Central Florida out in the country on 5 acres currently living in a 1989 Doublewide Fleetwood very well-built not the greatest windows but it is a 2 x 4 wall home 52 x 26 and it has experience 60 and 75 mile an hour winds and never shuttered , again it was a pleasure reading
If you want a well built manufactured home, go to a Solitaire website and read about them. We have owned 2 and both were solid.
We purchased a 2017 Buckeye Anniversary 3.0T from Oakwood Homes. It was actually built be Shult in Buckeye AZ. It has been a trouble- free home for us for 3 years now. It was installed by an experienced construction company, located here in the County in which the home was placed. We obtained bids from 3 contractors before selecting the Installer.
From the interior you would not know that this is a manufactured home. It is full tape and texture, sheetrock walls, and the interior has been finished out just like a custom -built home. We’ve had many guests in our home and all of the remark how it looks like a site-built home. We are very satisfied with our choice of this house. Sadly, this model is no longer available. I don’t get it…why stop building such a quality product?
We were really interested in the Champion, Mountain Pine 901 at one time. It is no longer available either.
I just read your article on modular homes and after doing just a few minutes of research found horrible reviews for the vender recommended.
Allowing such a suspiciously biased review to be published diminishes your whole organization’s credibility.
I am looking for a quality ADU, and maybe they don’t exist, but at least try and give a balanced review…
If you actually have better information, please share as the pricing on premanufactured homes is compelling. I am in Sunnyvale, CA and cost of construction has skyrocketed.
You’re absolutely right. There’s a company in Alabama that has a vet high rating with several dealerships in different states
We bought a 16×80 Champion home a year ago. It was (is) a huge mistake. There’s not enough room to list everything that’s wrong with it. And of course nobody takes the blame!!!#
Have you reached out to the dealer? It may be time to file a complaint with your state’s manufactured home board. There are avenues to get things resolved, depending on your state. You can visit our state section to learn more about what to do: https://mobilehomeliving.org/manufactured-home-information-and-resources/mobile-home-owners-state-guides/
We ordered a Commodore, hoping the quality and construction is wonderful because we have waited two years for it. Once actually ordered, they have delayed us twice without a valid explanation. Construction takes a week they say, we are getting anxious and hoping we didn’t make a mistake. Call me Anxious K
I think the pandemic caused a huge backup in the manufacturing industry. Hopefully you already have your home by now or its on its way!
Don’t buy a Clayton modular home! EVER! We made that major mistake and regret buying this home.
After only 6 months of living in the home we had water leaking down from our marriage line (the center of the home).
They said they fixed it and now it leaks so much we have an bucket to catch the water. Just a nightmare!
Have you filed complaints with the dealer and manufacturer? If you aren’t able to get a resolution than you may need to file a complaint with the state. You can visit our state guide for contact information for your particular state. https://mobilehomeliving.org/manufactured-home-information-and-resources/mobile-home-owners-state-guides/ Good luck!
BUYER BEWARE!! DO NOT PURCHASE A JACOBSEN HOME. WAYYYY TOO MANY MISTAKES AND THINGS NOT RIGHT. CHEAP MATERIALS USED. WHAT A HUUUUGE MISTAKE.
Franklin Homes are the best on the market today.
Thanks for these tips! What do mean by finding the installing crew? Do buyers have say in the matter? Is that part of the dealer you choose? Sorry- looking at our first purchase and trying to learn the ropes.
Buyers absolutely have a say in the installation crew. You should never have to use the dealer’s crew unless you want. Oftentimes, you’ll find much better rates if you get a few estimates. My best advice is to make sure you have an independent inspector that knows manufactured homes to inspect the house from top to bottom after it’s been installed and do not sign anything until it’s been done. It should only cost $300 or so (on the east coast at least).
best of luck!
I bought a Clayton home about 2 years ago. Wasn’t impressed with all of the cosmetic defects inside such as the texturing was shoddy. The outside paint was terrible and they elected to repaint for me. I asked for gas and that was only installed in my stove area. Found out later that my dryer gas hook up was behind my refrigerator. Would not recommend.
Clayton is so being sued…… I would be afraid to deal with them, always good to read honest reviews.
Has anyone purchased a Redman home? I really like their floor plan options.
It would also be helpful to discuss sustainability efforts and toxic chemical use as important consideration in quality. As you mention quality is not just quality of material, but also quality of business practices.
We bought a deervalley woodland series. We are not living in it yet but it is absolutely beautiful! Excellent workmanship on this home. Are you familiar with deervalley and what do you think about them
I’m pretty sure I have heard of Deer Valley but I’m not familiar with them. A lot of manufactured homes are sold regionally instead of nationally. I’m on the east coast and for some reason, I’m thinking they may be in the midwest?
Skyline is on your best home list, well I own a Skyline modular home and it sucks!! The 15 month warranty is only as good if they feel they want to respond. I have had a constant problem with the wall separating from the ceiling. This has occurred in almost every room. It is sad that a new car warranty is longer that the $200,000 investment we made in our home. Also when I contacted the Lancaster Wisconsin and spoke to the plant manager, he told me not to waste his time and hung up. We waited for 9 years to get this house. What a disappointment with Skyline and my dealer!
I own a 2003 Cavco double wide that I purchased in 2013. It’s has been a fabulous home. I guess my biggest complaints about the home are the cheap windows, the fiberglass tub, the lack of storage space/closets, and large holes the manufacturer left around the water lines, etc. The holes have allowed critters to get into my home. Once they were sealed I haven’t had a problem. I’m sure if you are the original purchaser some of those issues could be resolved with upgrades. My home, with the normal maintenance, should last forever. I would definitely buy a Cavco again.
You listed Clayton Homes as #2 of the best. You could be farthest from the truth. Yes, they may be the largest in producing homes, and for that, they pay a price in poor quality construction. Trust me, I thought Clayton was a top of the line company until I purchased one.
I understand but it seems for every bad review we get of them there’s a good one. My dad’s double wide is about 5 years old now and other than some yellowing on the doors and trim (which probably just needs a good cleaning) that home is great. His power bill in the winters is less than $200 a month and that’s in WV with no other heating sources. It’s a gorgeous home too.
I really do think it all depends on the day of the week the home is built, the factory, and the people working on it. It’s always a toss-up, I guess.
what about a jacobsen manufactured in south Fl. by a family owned operation. I do not see any reference to this company any were. They also have a 7 year warranty and have won may honers. Reply Lloyd
I’m familiar with the Jacobson name but I’ve never stepped foot in one (yet). I appreciate you bringing them up. I’ll check them out!
We have a hart home purchased it 7 years ago. The original owner had it built and watched it goi g down the line, has many upgrades. All walls are drywall, solid wood cabinets in kitchen and 2.5 bathroom. The only thing we’re not happy about is the roof had 25 year shingles and had to be replaced after 15 years, not for sure if it was cheaper shingles or the way the hse was getting the sun. Shingles started to curl and dry… we live in a 55 and older community, and they are bringing in more new homes. That really look cheap. The roof pitch is lower than all the other home and the siding looks like it was the last thing they had to use. Not real happy starting to make our community look like another trailer park, instead of a community.
There is a noticeable difference between a high-end manufactured home and one that’s more affordable. The more affordable homes will have recycled vinyl siding instead of virgin and lower pitch. Shingles are one of those products where one little error can completely ruin the entire product. You should be able to file against the warranty and recoup some of the replacement cost if you are willing to maneuver through all the red tape.
I’m thinking of buying a Cavco Sunshine manufactured home.
Do you have any information about there homes?
As with all the builders, I’ve heard good and bad. Quality is in the eye of the beholder and what features and upgrades you chose are huge factors in how the home stands up. This article about the best upgrades fort manufactured homesshould help.
Best of luck!
I was asking on Facebook for recommendations for a manufactured home builder and there were several recommendations for Smart Choice homes in San Antonio. Never heard of them. Anyone else?
Hi Popeye! I haven’t but thank you so much for the info. I’ll check them out.
Very impressive, Quality construction products and warranty
Don’t buy a Clayton home. There is no pride in the manufacturing. Trim all over the house just falls off. 13 electrical outlets just pulled out of the walls. 7 windows were bowed but not fixed until I went to corporate. Water system backed up on our 4th day living in the home. Inspection found a 2 x 4 x 2 piece of wood in our plumbing system. Clayton homes just hands out $25 gift cards to make everything “better”. Never buy a Clayton Home.
I appreciate you’re review. I’ve never owned a Clayton but my dad bought a new double wide 4 years ago and loves his. He hated the 1986 Redman he bought new though. I think manufactured housing is like car manufacturing, if the least little thing is done improperly or is ‘off’ during the build it creates an avalanche of other issues. It seems like the trim and the electrical outlets would be so simple to do right the first time. I’ve never heard of a 2×4 getting lodged in a plumbing line – that’s just crazy!
I hope they make it right for you!
I believe Clayton was bought out by Berkshire hathaway, this could be a not so good sign. It seems when the big companies take over the personal relationship & quality frequently suffer. What a shame.
We bought our Skyline new in 1980 and have moved it (after initial set up) 5 times. The shortest haul was 35 miles, the next shortest 120 miles, then 300 miles. It handled all of the moves very well and is now permanently set up on our own land. I always said we didn’t buy a Cadillac but a good solid Chevy. The standards have been upgraded since we bought ours, but it’s good to know Skyline was on the list of the better homes.
Wow! It’s not often that a home is moved that much and to hear that it has stood the test is awesome. I really like Skylines and have ever since my neighbor bought a new double wide. I loved everything about it! Thanks so much for your comment!