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 dealer and buyer need to maneuver through?
Does 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.
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 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:
Learn more about manufactured home builders in the book The Grissim Ratings Guide to Manufactured Homes (affiliate link).
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.