Mobile homes in a mobile home park.

Mobile & Modular Homes

Updated May 9, 2019 . AmFam Team

Having trouble figuring out the difference between mobile, manufactured and modular homes? Check out each type’s unique features, benefits and drawbacks in our handy guide.

When you’re looking to upgrade your living situation and purchase a new home, single-family homes, condos, duplexes and townhouses aren’t your only options. modular homes and mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes come with a variety of benefits that most people don’t know about. We’ll spell out the differences between the two and the benefits they offer.

What Is a Modular Home?

A modular home is a structure that was built elsewhere, then transported to a permanent location and installed. Modular homes must also be built in accordance with very strict building codes, much like homes that are built on-site.

The benefits of owning a modular home are numerous — and at the top of the list is affordability. Modular homes generally cost less to build than site-built homes, although a large portion of the total cost may come from the transportation of the home to its site. When it comes to the price per square foot, modular homes are often significantly more affordable than single-family homes built on-site.

Plus, you’ll likely have more customization at your disposal for a much lesser cost when designing your modular home. Modular homes are more likely to be better for the environment, too, as they can be designed for maximum efficiency and outfitted with high quality energy-efficient appliances thanks to your home-buying savings.

Modular Homes vs. Mobile/Manufactured Homes

Modular homes and mobile/manufactured homes may seem like one and the same — and in most ways, they are. Mobile/manufactured homes were originally built to be pulled by a vehicle to suit families who needed to pick up and move to a different location relatively often. Modular homes, which are built in a factory like mobile/manufactured homes, are not designed to be moved once they are assembled on a permanent foundation on site.

Here are some other key differences:

Date built. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that homes built prior to June 15, 1976 are classified as mobile homes. The same type of home built after that date is classified as a manufactured home.

Permanent chassis. According to HUD, mobile/manufactured homes must be constructed on a permanent chassis, making them able to be moved later on.

Other HUD standards. HUD also enforces more standards on the foundations, square footage minimums and limits, safety features and more. These standards were put in place in order to make mobile/manufactured homes safer for their occupants.

Assembly. A mobile/manufactured home is assembled at a factory, then transported to its site where it is set up. A modular home, however, is usually brought from the factory to the site in multiple pieces, where it is put together on a permanent foundation. It is not intended to ever be moved.

Mobility. Mobile/manufactured homes are built on permanent chassis, allowing them to be moved later on. Modular homes, once installed, are permanent structures and cannot be moved to another location.

Size and appearance. Mobile/manufactured homes are generally smaller than modular homes. Once on site, modular homes look more like a single-family home than a mobile/manufactured home.

Price. Modular homes tend to be more expensive than mobile/manufactured homes, in part due to their size. But when compared to single-family site built homes, modular homes can be quite affordable.

Which Type of Home Is a Good Investment?

Mobile/manufactured and modular homes can be a good investment in the right circumstances. The key to making a smart investment in a manufactured/mobile or modular home is purchasing a home you can afford, getting low-interest financing, making payments on time and taking good care of the property.

Need help figuring out how you’re going to insure your new home? Talk to your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) about homeowners insurance or manufactured and mobile home insurance. No matter which type of house you’re moving into, your agent can help you protect it from the unexpected and give you the peace of mind you deserve.

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