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Easy Homes: What Are Mobile, Manufactured and Modular Homes?

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Published on Thursday, December 17, 2015 by Land Century

If you’re thinking of purchasing a plot of land, you may also be considering easy housing options. And it doesn’t get much easier than a mobile, manufactured or modular home. While similar in nature, there are numerous differences between the three types of homes that you should understand before deciding which one you want to place on your property.

What is a Mobile Home?

A mobile home may also be referred to as a trailer, house trailer or a trailer home. No matter what you call it, this is a prefabricated structure that’s built in a factory on the chassis that’s permanently attached. Mobile homes can be used as a permanent residence, temporary accommodation, or for as a vacation home. While they do have the option of being moved, mobile homes are often left in one permanent location.

Many people use the term mobile and manufactured interchangeably, and they aren’t wrong. The primary difference between the two is that the home must have been constructed before June, 1976 for it to be considered mobile. Homes that were constructed after this time period are considered manufactured.

If you can’t afford a traditional site-built home or simply don’t want to commit a large sum of money to building a house, a mobile home is a great option. Many modern versions are spacious and offer the same modern amenities that a traditional home offers.

The only drawback with a mobile home is that units from the 1970s depreciate rapidly in resell value. They typically can’t be used as collateral for loans, and if you can manage to get a loan to cover the cost of the home, expect to pay higher interest and for the term to be less than 30 years. If you’re considering a mobile home for your property, be sure to check local laws to ensure that it’s possible to place one on your land. Local laws and regulations sometimes prohibit the placement of mobile homes on a piece of land, especially in suburban areas.

What is a Manufactured Home?

Manufactured homes are the modern version of the mobile home. Like mobile homes, they are relatively inexpensive, smaller in size, and typically don’t have the stringent standards that apply to site-built home periods. The mobility and affordability of these holds is this what makes them so attractive to potential homeowners. It’s possible to purchase a manufactured home without having to make a serious monetary commitment.

There are typically three sizes available when it comes to manufactured homes: single-wide, double-wide and triple-wide. Manufactured homes are never more than one story and are manufactured at factories in sections. These structures are inspected, but they don’t have to be approved by an inspector.

Like mobile homes, manufactured homes are transported to the home site on their own wheels and feature a steel chassis that is never removed. These structures also lose value over time because they cannot be improved on or expanded.

Many times, manufactured homes do not offer custom design options. As a buyer, you have the option to choose from a variety of different home models that have already been built, and it will be delivered to your property within days. Manufactured homes are a great option if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a home or prefer not to make a major investment. A large percentage of these homes are placed on the properties and leased out to tenants.

What is a Modular Home?

Modular homes are constructed entirely in factories, and transported to the building site on a series of flatbed trucks. The great thing about these homes is that they are built under controlled conditions, and required to meet very strict quality control requirements before they can be delivered.

Each piece arrives as block segments, and are neatly assembled together using cranes. Once placed together, modular homes are nearly indistinguishable from site-built homes. Another great thing about these homes is that construction won’t be delayed by wind or rain, and you never have to worry about construction materials warping.

Banks treat modular homes the same way they treat homes that are built on site. They can easily be refinanced, and it’s possible to get a traditional loan to purchase the home. These homes follow the same market trends as a site-built homes and must be approved by inspectors.

Another advantage that modular homes offers is that they could be any size and more than one level. They’re also highly customizable, and as the buyer, you have the option of choosing a variety of different designs and paint colors before construction begins. Most modular homes take about 14 weeks to construct, which is much quicker than a home built on-site. Because the home is manufactured in a factory, the foundation can be dug at the same time the home is being built.

Fans of modular homes claim that because they are constructed in an indoor environment that’s controlled, they're more resilient and have greater strength than homes that are built on-site. These homes also tend to be built with more precise techniques and more building material than their site-built counterparts. In fact, one study by FEMA found that modular homes were able to withstand water and wind from hurricanes better than most other homes. These homes generally cost less, are built much quicker than site-built homes, and are often more energy-efficient.

If you’re not concerned about the resale value of the home, a mobile or manufactured home is the best option. Manufactured is typically better than mobile because a true mobile home will likely be run down and in bad shape. Manufactured homes, on the other hand, can be of very high quality and will be inexpensive to purchase.

If you prefer an easy home that will appreciate in value, modular is the right option. These homes can be customized inside, and are nearly indistinguishable from a regular site-built home. Banks treat them as traditional homes, so you have the option of refinancing in the future. It’s also not difficult to get a mortgage for these homes – unlike mobile or manufactured homes which are treated more like vehicles than homes. Ultimately, the right choice will come down to personal preference, budget and the purpose of the home.
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