Modular vs Manufactured Homes

If you’re shopping for a manufactured home, you may quickly find yourself finding lots of confusing terms. Mobile home, modular home, pre-fabricated home, trailer, doublewide – do all of these mean the same thing? Does it really matter what you call your new home?

For the most part, no. “Manufactured home” and “mobile home” can be used pretty much interchangeably. Modular homes, however, are not quite the same as other types of manufactured housing – and understanding these differences can help you make the right choice when shopping for a new home.

What is a Modular Home?

A modular home is built in sections. These sections are fabricated in a factory and transported on a flat bed truck to the building site, where they’re assembled. A modular home could be assembled from multiple modules, and the finished product could have multiple stories. In general, a fully assembled and installed modular home is indistinguishable from a site-built house.

How Are Modular Homes Different than Other Manufactured Homes?

All manufactured homes, including modular homes, are built in factories and transported to their final location for assembly. This protects them from the elements during assembly and allows them to be built quickly under factory conditions.

Modular homes differ from other manufactured homes in a few key ways:

  • They are built to sit on a slab foundation rather than up on blocks. Mobile homes are built on I-beams. This central support is missing from modular homes.
  • They must meet local building codes and inspections. Mobile homes are inspected at the factory, not the site, and meet federal codes rather than local ones.
  • They are sometimes easier to finance as they do not depreciate as quickly as some mobile homes.
  • They’re generally designed to be placed permanently on land rather than stay in a mobile home park.

Despite these differences, modular homes are not necessarily superior to a mobile home. Any mobile home that you place on a plot of land will have most all of the same perks as a modular home. And when you enter a home, you will probably not even be able to tell whether it was mobile or modular in construction.

Ultimately, the best home for you is the one whose floor plan and features meet your needs. The way it was constructed should be a secondary concern, if it even factors into your consideration.