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Modular homes and manufactured homes, what's difference?

The modular home industry is booming. Advances in modular home building have changed the way they are viewed, built and designed. No longer are prefabricated homes restricted to trailer parks and double wides. Modular home plans can be as diverse and unique as their owners, and can be built virtually anywhere.

People often interchange the terms ‘modular home' and ‘manufactured home', when the two shouldn't be confused. The following is a general comparison between the these kinds of homes:


Modular Homes

Manufactured Homes

Factory Building Procedures

Modular homes are built in several sections inside a factory. As each section is built, it is checked for quality at every step. Between 80 and 95% of a modular home is completed in the factory. 

Manufactured homes are built in large sections in a factory setting. The build, aside from the foundation, is completed in the factory in its entirety.

Transportation to the Site

Each section of a modular home is transferred to a home site via flat bed truck.

The completed home is transferred, usually on its own wheels. 

Building Codes

Modular homes are built to conform to particular building codes. These codes are specific to the location the modules are delivered.

Manufactured homes all conform to the same federal codes, regardless of where they are delivered.


Modular homes are placed on and/or constructed on a permanent foundation at the site.

Foundations for manufactured homes are not generally permanent, rather they are placed on a non-removable steel chassis.

Home Style and Design

Most any style that is available to those building a traditional home are also available to modular home buyers. Modular floor plans can include ranch styles, two story homes, split levels, and more.

What most call a mobile home or trailer home is the norm for manufactured houses. In recent years more styles are available, but choices continue to be limited.


Modular homes are generally cheaper per square foot than site built homes.

Manufactured homes are less expensive than both site built and modular homes.

Value and Financing

Depending on the location a modular home can, like it's traditional counterpart, increase in value. Most banks, appraisers and insurance companies treat modular homes the same as they do site built homes.

Typically manufactured or mobile homes are difficult to refinance, and often depreciate in value over time.

There are several additional advantages to modular homes that should be considered if you are in the market to build a new home.

Compared to traditionally built homes, a modular building can be completed in a fraction of the time. Depending on the manufacturer, the factory phase of a modular home can be completed in as little as two weeks. Once the home sections are delivered to the build site, a local builder can complete the home in between two and four weeks. Largely the decrease in time for a modular build versus a site build is due to the fact that the bulk of the home is built and designed indoors. Because of that, many of the delays that plague a site built home are avoided.

Additionally, because of the factory setting, a modular home is protected against the environment and against vandalism. A site built home cannot be supervised all of the time while being built. In contrast, a factory built home provides a more complete surveillance as the modules are being completed. Along the same lines, modular homes are generally higher quality simply due to the fact that there are quality control programs in place within the factories. Homes built in factories are controlled by and enforced by the manufacturers. Generally, each module is inspected on the assembly line, and again by a third party state inspector (specific to the state the home will be completed in), and finally on site by the local building inspector. Few programs are similarly enforced on a traditional site build.

Like a traditionally built home, a modular home can be customized to fit the needs of each buyer. Walk out basements, spiral staircases and tailor-made kitchens are only some of the options available to a designer in creating a modular home. Materials used for both a modular and a site built home are similar. However, module for a modular home are generally constructed with 2x6 walls to withstand the rigors of being transported hundreds of miles to the site.

Where are they available? Modular homes are in PA Pennsylvania, and there are modular homes in Florida FL, you will find modular homes in NC North Carolina, modular homes in Michigan MI, modular homes Ohio OH, modular homes in California CA, You will even find modular homes in NY New York and modular homes NJ New Jersey, modular homes in Texas, modular homes Virginia VA, modular homes in Maine MA, and most of the other states. If you're up north you can even find modular homes in Canada.

In recent years the modular home market has reinvented itself, and advances are making it better all the time. Modular homes are well crafted and stylish alternatives to traditionally built homes, and interest in them is spreading. Whether you are in the market to spend $150,000 or $1,000,000, modular homes are worth checking into.


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