Why is Manufactured Housing Relegated by Misinformation to Restricted Zoning?

Modular housing construction, those modules built to the same building codes as site-built homes in your community is growing. Not the single-family home side of the business but rather the multi-story housing units and hospitality side of the housing industry.

But here’s an interesting fact, compared to the 3% +/- size of the modular housing market, the manufactured home side is 9% +/- of the housing according to The Urban Institute.

The importance of manufactured housing for addressing our nation’s current affordability crisis is immense because manufactured housing is substantially less costly to build than traditional site-built construction. This is due to manufactured housing being built to the HUD code and regulations and not to ICC and IRC building requirements.

For decades, modular homes have been lumped together with manufactured homes which has caused a problem for the modular industry. The manufactured home industry, which many still call mobile homes, is usually zoned by local code regulations to “manufactured home only” communities or rural areas. R1 or single-family IRC code accepted neighborhoods are where you find people screaming “Not in My Back Yard” every time they hear someone trying to put a manufactured home on a vacant lot. That was true decades ago and even today, many manufactured homes may look like other homes in the area, the thought that they are just a “gussied up mobile home” lingers on.

CrossMod homes blend off-site construction methods with on-site features and design to produce an affordable home on a permanent foundation.

In 2021 the average price, excluding land, per square foot for site-built homes was $144 compared with only $72 for a manufactured home. The difference can be attributed to the factory-built construction in which each is built. The HUD code, a national construction and safety standard of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is less expensive to meet while the estimated cost of meeting all the codes and regulations imposed on modular construction is estimated to be up to 28% of the cost of the modular home.

The Manufactured Housing Institute points out that factory-built homes are constructed on an assembly line with precision and quality that comes from a controlled building environment.

Failing to pursue new approaches and act aggressively is low- and middle-income families the opportunity to live in their own single-family homes and the accompanying financial advantages. It forces those that want their own homes and do not want apartment living to move to other communities and face long, costly, time-consuming, and polluting commutes for employment opportunities.

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Gary Fleisher

Gary Fleisher, “The Mod Coach”, has been entrenched in the offsite construction industry for most of his life. Having started his career in the lumber industry, Gary spent decades working with manufactured and modular home producers and homebuilders. For the past 15 years his blog and LinkedIn postings have introduced thousands to the benefits of factory-built construction and have served as a forum for industry professionals to share insights and perspectives. Gary lives in Hagerstown, MD with his wife, Peg.

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