Modular homes and mobile homes are very similar, and the terms tend to be used interchangeably. Because of similarities in the manufacturing process, some companies build both type homes in their factories.

Modular Buildings

Modular Buildings

Modular buildings are sectional prefabricated houses that consist of multiple sections i.e., modules. The modules are multi-sided units constructed in a manufacturing facility. They are transported to their permanent site on a flatbed vehicle. The modules are put on the building's foundation and joined together to make a single residence. The modules can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked to permit a variety of house layouts.

Mobile Homes

Mobile Homes

A mobile home is built on a permanently attached chassis with highway-grade wheels and tires. Mobile homes are usually transported by being pulled behind a truck to their permanent site. Several such units may be joined together to form larger entities. Mobile homes are generally placed on a concrete pad in one location and left there permanently, but they may retain the ability to be moved. Behind the cosmetic work fitted at installation to hide the base, they are durable. During installation, the trailer frames, axles, wheels, and tow-hitches needed for moving are hidden behind aesthetic screening.

Mobile Home Regulation

In the United States, these mobile homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), via the Federal National Mfd. Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. The Manufactured Housing program is a national program established to protect the health and safety of the owners of manufactured (mobile) homes. Under the program, HUD issues, monitors, and enforces Federal manufactured home construction and safety standards. The program intends to: reduce personal injuries, deaths, property damage, insurance costs, and to improve the quality and durability of manufactured homes. The standards preempt State and local laws which are not identical to the Federal standards. The standards may be enforced by HUD directly or by various States which have established State Administrative Agencies (SAA's) in order to participate in the program. HUD has the authority to inspect factories and obtain records needed to enforce the standards. If a manufactured home does not conform to Federal standards, the manufacturer may be required to notify the consumer. If the home contains a defect which presents an unreasonable risk of injury or death, the manufacturer may be required to correct the defect. Modular homes are constructed according to the International Building Code (IBC) or the code that has been adopted by the local jurisdiction.

Mobile Home Finance

A mobile home should probably not be called an investment. Such homes depreciate over the years, and unlike classic cars, they don’t tend to reverse the trend. However, there are some advantages to owning a mobile home. Generally, they are cheaper than houses for similar floor space. A mobile home can often be purchased on a lower down payment both because of the lower price. Frequently, on a new mobile home purchase, you may be able to finance the cost of the sales taxes into the loan amount. Purchasing a mobile home may give you the feel of home ownership.

Mobile/Modular Home Location

Mobile/modular homes are often placed in land lease communities where homeowners may rent space. These communities are referred to by several names: trailer courts, mobile home parks, mobile home communities, manufactured home communities, and factory-built home communities. Amenities of these communities may include:

  • Water
  • Sewer
  • Electricity
  • Natural Gas
  • Garbage Removal
  • Community Rooms
  • Pools
  • Playgrounds

Modular Home Resort Communities

Communities recently built for those 55 and older are most often found in the sun belt. Residents, as owners or renters, may consider the community their primary, or only home. Sometimes, they may live in the community for a few months, living elsewhere the rest of the year. Many "snowbirds" from the upper mid-west and the northeast follow this pattern of living. They spend winter months in Modular or Mobile Home Parks in Florida during the winter months. Canadians are significantly evident as winter residents of modular resort communities in the Coachella Valley and the high desert of California and in Arizona. In the U.S., there is typically a three month limit for HMO's covering members while away, and the Canadian health coverage limit of 90-days out-of-country reduces the high season for many parks in the sun belt that have brutally hot or humid summers.

Snowbirds can find lower total costs for vacations or winter housing in Modular or Mobile Home Communities than in other forms of housing available short term. The greater affordability of this type of rental, short term, is a way for seniors to "try before they buy." They test both the Modular Community concept and the City or region as a relocation spot. For many, on a long term rental or purchase, it is just a more affordable and a more desirable way of life.

Additional Resources and Information

Manufactured Housing Institute