From a legal standpoint, the primary difference between modular and manufactured homes is that modular homes are held to the same local, state and regional building codes required for on-site homes, while manufactured homes are held to a federal code set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- must conform to the same local, state and regional building codes as homes built on-site;
- are treated the same by banks as homes built on-site. They are easily refinanced, follow the same market trends as site-built houses;
- must be structurally approved by on-site inspectors;
- generally take eight to 14 weeks to construct. Differing from a site-built home, the foundation can be dug at the same time that the house is being constructed.
- are set on permanent foundations.
They tend to be constructed using more precise building techniques and with more building material than comparable site-built residences. One reason for this is that they must be able to stand up to the stress of highway transport. A study by FEMA found that modular homes withstood the wind and water from Hurricane Andrew better than most other homes in that area. They take less time to construct than site-built homes, are more energy-efficient, and generally cost less.
The term “manufactured home” is the most recent label for what were once called “mobile homes” or “trailers.” They are relatively inexpensive, small, and are held to less stringent standards than modular and site-built homes. Their obvious advantages are their mobility and affordability, factors that allow buyers to make home purchases without a serious monetary or geographical commitment. They are available in three sizes that escalate as follows: “single-wide,” “double-wide” and “triple-wide.” They are not generally set on permanent foundations and can be moved.