Some people use the terms “manufactured home” and “modular home” interchangeably. However, it is important for customers to know the differences before shopping for a new home. The differences between manufactured & modular homes, where manufactured homes are built to the HUD code, and modular homes are built to the IRC code by the same manufactured home manufacturer are similar. Features and construction quality are near equal with modular pricing being slightly higher due to code requirements. We will, therefore discuss the differences between a HUD manufactured home and an IRC modular home built by a modular only builder.
Manufactured homes are built in a climate-controlled building facility utilizing assembly line construction technology. Manufactured homes are completed in sections, usually two or three, on a steel frame and chassis, and then are transported (towed) to the home site with no assembly required at site except mating of the sections, hooking up to utilities, carpet installation, etc. Modular homes are shipped via flat bed trucks in sections called modules and assembled by a builder on site, often requiring crane service to lower modules onto the foundation. Manufactured home sections are a maximum width of 16 to 18 feet and 70 to 80 feet in length with height restrictions dependent on highway transport requirements that differ from state-to-state, thereby limiting manufactured homes to single story construction and minimal exterior elevations. Modular homes partially constructed on site are available in any exterior design and configuration.
Modular homes are always built to be attached to private property and classified as real property and therefore qualify for conventional home mortgage financing. On the other hand, manufactured homes are usually placed, but not attached, to private property or sited in land-lease communities, and thereby do not qualify for residential financing. However, manufactured homes installed on private property using an approved foundation system may also qualify as real estate with conventional mortgage financing. Manufactured and modular homes have one fundamental thing in common: each are built to standards equal and sometimes superior to comparable site-built homes, and priced considerably less. Manufactured homes are up to 50% less expensive and modular homes are about 15 to 20% less, after factoring in the onsite assembly expense.