What is the difference?

Many wonder what the difference is between a manufactured home and a modular home. The difference is in how it is assembled and erected on the site as well as the building codes each must follow. While their names sound almost the same, they are very different homes.

Modular Homes are built using modular construction. This type of construction is based on the same codes as a site-built home. Various building codes are set forth in state requirements where the home will be located. This typically includes the International Residential Code (IRC) and/or the International Building Code (IBC), the National Electrical Code (NEC), the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), along with many others. The home is transported on a carrier; the home is then taken off of the carrier and transferred onto a foundation.

A modular home is typically very customizable and built to exacting tolerances which make them very energy efficient. These homes are virtually indistinguishable from their site-built counterparts. They don’t have to be fully completed in the factory allowing the flexibility for additional onsite customization.

Modular Homes:

  • can be assembled into almost any shape or size, although they are typically built in the factory to a set of uniform sizes.
  • Are usually being built at the same time the site work is being completed and the site is being prepared which is a huge differentiator from site-built construction.
  • tend to be structurally superior to site built and manufactured homes because of the code they are built to and the need to withstand the stresses of transportation.
  • are treated the same by lenders and appraise the same as site-built homes.


Manufactured homes are built entirely in a factory, constructed with a permanent Chassis designed for over-the-road transportation and delivered to the home site in one or more sections according to the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1976 enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is why they are also called HUD-Code homes. Prior to this act, the common term for this form of housing was mobile home (or trailer).

HUD regulates the home’s design and contraction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality control. It is also sets performance standards for heating, plumping, air-condition, thermal and electrical systems. Manufactured homes historically have been popular in rural areas on private land with minimal land use restrictions or in land-lease communities. The HUD-Code was created to allow homes to be built more cheaply while complying with a minimum building code.

Are there Similarities?

Yes, both homes are built in a factory. This means that they both offer the advantage of being built indoors under controlled conditions. However, because of the differences between the State/Local building code and the HUD code, the quality and structural soundness of the two homes are very different. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” is very true regarding the quality and structure of these two types of homes.


What are Modular Homes?

  • Modular homes are built in sections at a factory.
  • Modular homes are built to conform to all state, local or regional building codes at their destinations.
  • Sections are transported to the building site on temporary carriers, and then joined together by local contractors.
  • Local building inspectors check to make sure a modular home’s structure meets requirements and that all finish work is done properly.
  • Modular homes are generally slightly less expensive per square foot than site built- houses.
  • A modular home will have the same longevity as its site-built counterpart, increasing in value over time.

What are Manufactured homes?

  • Formerly referred to as mobile homes or trailers, but with many more style options than the past.
  • Manufactured conform to a Federal building code, called the HUD code, rather than to building codes at the destinations.
  • Manufactured homes are built on a non-removable steel chassis.
  • Sections are transported to the building site on their own wheels.
  • Multi-part manufactured units are joined at their destination.
  • Segments are not always placed on a permanent foundation.
  • Building inspectors check the work done locally (electric hook up, etc.) but are not required to approve the structure.
  • Manufactured housing is generally less expensive than site-built and modular homes.