Mobile, Modular, and Manufactured Homes

By
Services for Real Estate Pros

modular homeHave you ever wondered or been asked by a buyer exactly what the difference is between a "modular" home and a "mobile" home?  

You may also hear the terms "manufactured home" or "pre-fab home".

These terms seem to be catch-all phrases to encompass anything that is not a "stick-built" house, which is the builder's lingo for a home that is built from scratch on a piece of property, and not in a factory.

 

 

 

So what exactly is the difference?  After researching the different types of alternative-built homes, I've discovered the answer.  And, my findings might surprise you!

 

In my quest to understand these different housing types, I contacted Robert Fanelli, the President of Riverview Homes, Inc. in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.  With forty years of experience in selling both types of homes, Robert provided me with insight into the alternative housing business and explained that it basically boils down to semantics.

 

"Over our 40-year history, Riverview Homes has sold mobile homes, manufactured homes, modular homes, two stories, sectional homes, single-wides, trailers, double trailers, triple-wides, double-high, etc.", he begins.   "In the end what we have really sold is either a home built to the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) building code or to a State building code.  In Pennsylvania, we build single family homes to the IRC (International Residential Code).   In Pennsylvania, modular homes are built to the IRC and manufactured homes or mobile homes are built to the HUD code."

Mobile Home

 

Wikipedia defines a similar difference.  It says that typically a modular home is built to local state or council code, so it can actually have a different construction standard depending on the state in which it will be placed.  Modular homes built for final placement in a hurricane-prone area can have additional bracing built in to make it more safe.  Surprisingly, it says that after FEMA studied the destruction done by Hurricane Andrew, they concluded that modular and masonry built homes fared better than any other construction!
 
Wikipedia  further notes that pre-manufactured, pre-fab, or mobile homes are built in factories, transported by tractor-trailer to the home site, (often rural) and contain hidden trailer frames, axles, wheels and tow-hitches beneath the underpinning.

 

Mobile Homes

The two major sizes of mobile homes are single-wide (18 feet or less width and 90 feet or less in length); and double-wide (which are 20 feet or more wide and 90 feet long).  Double-wides are usually two units which are joined together at the site.  Mobile homes can even go up to a triple-wide size and above, if desired.
 
Again, they reiterate that mobile homes are governed by National standards (the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD) and not state or local building codes.  That may explain why many cities do not allow mobile homes to be built inside the city limits, since they may not be up to code for the area.  Mobile homes were actually an offshoot from camping trailers which became popular in the 50's and 60's.

Modular HomeI posed the question to my SC Allstate Insurance agent, who sells both South Carolina mobile home insurance as well as regular homeowners insurance.  His industry provides additional distinction between a modular home and a mobile home.  He stated that a modular home is frameless and uses a deed to convey title, whereas a mobile home has a title similar to a car, and has the framework mentioned above.  There seems to be little room to quibble with the insurance agency!

Different Opinions

In his explanation, Mr. Fanelli goes on to say that the problem is not that they or their customers don't know what they are buying or selling, but how the other entities involved in the construction process define the product.

 

He asks, "What does the lender consider a modular?  What does the insurance agent consider a mobile home?  What does the Zoning Officer define a manufactured home as?  You would think this would not be a problem, but I am here to say that all of these people have different answers and they are defined not by the law or by building codes, but by personal experience.  For example, the Banker who will not finance a mobile home, but will finance a modular; and the only requirement to be a modular is that the home is on a basement!  This happens all the time."

 

He adds, "With all of this being said, the homes that we are building, either modular or HUD code, are the most competitive product we have ever fielded.  Any option, design or appearance, you can get with a traditional stick-built home you can get with a modular or a HUD. [mobile home]"

 

"Whatever you want to call them, the house is a HUD code home or an IRC code home.  These codes are not as different as one might imagine .  In fact the HUD code can be more restrictive than the IRC in some cases.  Most of the stereotypical differences that people quote all the time are just not true.  HUD code homes can go on a basement.  Modular homes can be built on a frame that stays with the home.  HUD code homes do have drywall and higher roof pitches.  Modular and HUD code homes can both be financed - including the ground with a mortgage.  Both are built in a factory, and transported to the home site.  And even stick-built homes use factory-built parts like roof and floor trusses."

Modular Log Home

Mr. Fanelli's website has photos and comprehensive information about mobile and modular homes in PA.  If you're interested in learning more, go to www.RiverViewHomesInc.com and take a look.

 

As usual, I've received an advanced education about this type of housing, just out of curiosity.  It was hard to grasp and made for a rather difficult subject to write about.

 

Thanks go to Robert Fanelli and his expertise that helped a great deal, and to my friend Tim Fish, who patiently explained some of the terminology.  He sees an occasional modular home for sale in Albuquerque, too.    

##

Robert Fanelli is the President of Riverview Homes, Inc.   Riverview was founded in 1970, and has its corporate office at 2623 River Road, Vandergrift, PA, 15690.  Mr. Fanelli can be reached at rfanelli@riverviewhomesinc.com.  Learn more about Riverview Homes at  www.riverviewhomesinc.com.

 

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Groups:
Posts to Localism
Addicted to Active Rain
Tags:
homeowners insurance
manufactured homes
modular homes
mobile homes
myrtle beach condos
homes for sale in albuquerque
pa modular homes

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
315,152
Liz Loadholt
Liz Loadholt- AgentOwned Realty- Covering SC - Mount Pleasant, SC
Realtor--Broker-in-charge - Trainer--Relocation Director Covering SC

Jan ---- WOW -- you put a lot of work into this post -- very well done -- there does seem to be a lot of confusions regarding mobile, modular and manufactured home.

                                                                                                                 

Feb 15, 2010 07:41 AM #1
Rainer
44,612
Fran and Rowena, La Canada Realtors - (818) 952-0077
Dilbeck Real Estate - La Canada, CA

Jan - great info!  We learned a lot.  You did a lot of research.  This could be a reference for those who don't know the difference.  Thanks!

Feb 15, 2010 11:33 AM #2
Rainmaker
195,757
Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

Thanks, both of you.  And thanks Miss Fran for being my editor...:-)

Feb 15, 2010 11:46 AM #3
Rainmaker
62,831
Tanya Connie
Sun Rise Real Estate - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach Real Estate

Jan, You had a source in your own backyard.  We were custom home builders plus I have dealt with all of the types of homes since becoming a realtor.  You did a good job and the outcome is very true.  A modular home can be constructed with higher quality then a stick-built. 

Feb 16, 2010 01:03 AM #4
Rainmaker
195,757
Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

Who is "we"?  You and your hubby?  I had no idea.  Are you still doing it?

I had a friend whose husband worked for Clayton Homes and they had one.  Are they mobile or modular?  I think mobile....  It had a skirt as I recall, and looked like a plastic house...:-)

Feb 16, 2010 01:37 AM #5
Rainer
332,782
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ

Jan,

Did a search on "modular homes" and found just what I needed! Great, in-depth post. Thanks.

Mar 30, 2010 12:54 AM #6
Rainmaker
195,757
Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

Thanks for the compliment, Irene.  That blog post was a "Booger"!  :-)

Mar 30, 2010 02:22 AM #7
Rainmaker
170,083
Wendy Hayden
Photographer, Home Stager, ePRO - Richmond, VA
Chesterfield, Richmond & Powahatan

It frusterates me when agent's don't know the difference between manufactured, mobile and modular homes.  I think that the fact that they are start with the letter M and are built in a factory are all most people hear!

Aug 28, 2010 06:30 AM #8
Rainmaker
195,757
Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

Apparently it's not only agents!  Banks and insurance companies seem to be confused too.

Aug 28, 2010 10:10 AM #9
Rainer
2,070
Ryan Thompson
TLC Manufactured Homes, Inc. - Poway, CA

Nice explanation. We've been specializing in these for decades and it seems the general public never seem to know the difference!

Oct 06, 2010 09:09 AM #10
Rainmaker
195,757
Jan Chilton
Myrtle Beach, SC
Real Estate Marketing

And if they're like me, they may know it and then forget what they learned...:-)

Thanks for commenting, Ryan.

Oct 06, 2010 09:39 AM #11
Ambassador
606,364
John DL Arendsen
CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes designer & builder of ADU's

I'm way late for this one but it just popped up on my radar so here goes anyway.

Please feel free to log onto our Trulia [http://www.trulia.com/blog/onthelevelcontractors/] or Active Rain blog [http://activerain.com/action/agents_secure/my_home] for more comprehensive information about the MH Industry. 

Or you can check our our website and give us a call or drop us an email. We are RE Brokers, Manufactured Home Dealers and licensed, bonded and insured General Contractors and have been actively engaged in the MH Industry statewide for almost 3 decades.

We are a Nationwide company and work with lenders and RE brokers everywhere. We'd love to network with you.

Feb 26, 2011 06:19 AM #12
Ambassador
606,364
John DL Arendsen
CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes designer & builder of ADU's

I would love to invite you to join my group. We have the latest in information and knowledge about the Factory Built Housing Industry and we would love to share it with you and anyone in your sphere of influence that is reaching out for information on this industry.

http://activerain.com/groups/manufacturedhomes

Jan 30, 2014 12:04 PM #13
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
195,757

Jan Chilton

Real Estate Marketing
Find out what your website needs!
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Additional Information