In recent years, the modular home industry has taken off and become a multi-billion dollar industry. Modular homes offer faster construction and more customization options that allow prospective home buyers to build their dream house in just a matter of weeks. But despite the growing popularity of pre-fabricated homes, there remains confusion about the difference between modular and manufactured homes. Modular and manufactured homes share some similarities in how they are built but have several significant differences in their construction and the benefits they offer. If you are in the market for a new home, know how to tell the difference between modular and manufactured homes so you can choose the right home for you and your family.
What Are Modular Homes?
Modular homes are a type of pre-fabricated building that is constructed in a factory. Modular homes are built in uniform sections, or modules, that are then transported to a prepared building site. The individual modules are assembled on the building foundation using large cranes to create a single substantial structure. Modular homes are built on a permanent foundation that may include a basement. Once constructed, modular homes are permanent structures that cannot be moved.
Modular homes can be nearly any size and configuration, depending on how many modules are used in construction. Modular homes are often entirely customizable and buyers can choose their desired floor plan before the home is built. Similarly to traditional site-built homes, modular homes can have many additional features such as porches, garages, fireplaces and more. Buyers can choose the siding or finish they prefer to make the home their own. Modular homes are sometimes referred to as “factory-built homes” or “pre-fabricated homes.”
What Are Manufactured Homes?
Manufactured homes are another common type of pre-fabricated house. Like modular homes, manufactured homes are built in a factory in standard-sized units. However, when finished, manufactured homes consist of only a single unit and are not combined to construct a larger home. The manufactured home is placed on a building site that may be simply a plot without a basement or other permanent foundation. Manufactured homes are built on a steel chassis, or frame, with wheels. These wheels are used to transport the home to its building site and are then removed. Manufactured homes remain on their steel frame and the wheels can be reattached if the owner wants to move the home to a new site.
Older models of manufactured homes are often referred to as “mobile homes” or “trailers.” The construction of manufactured homes is regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and these types of homes are often subject to different construction and zoning restrictions than modular and site-built homes.
Modular Homes vs. Manufactured Homes
Modular and manufactured homes are both considered pre-fabricated homes because they are manufactured off-site in a factory and then transported to the building site. The primary benefit of pre-fabricated homes is that their construction can be closely monitored for quality controls and consistent construction. The building process for prefabricated homes is not delayed by rain or other poor weather, as it can be with site-built construction. Factory construction also allows manufactured and modular homes to be produced much more quickly and efficiently than site-built homes. Modular homes take a matter of weeks to build, and the building foundation can be prepared while the home is being constructed. Manufactured homes can also be built in a short time frame and require very little site preparation before the home can be placed on its plot.
Despite these similarities in the construction process and time, modular and manufactured homes differ in many ways. Below are the primary distinctions between modular and manufactured homes:
Once fixed to their foundation, modular homes are permanent structures that cannot be moved. Manufactured homes, on the other hand, can be transported to a new location if the owner wants to relocate. Manufactured homes are constructed on a steel frame with wheels that can be detached when the home is placed on its building site and then reattached to move the home in the future.
Modular homes are placed on a permanent foundation that can be built on the site while the modules are being produced in the factory. Modular homes may be built on cement foundations or may have a full basement that can be used as a living space or storage space.
Modular homes can be any size, but are typically larger than manufactured homes. Modular homes can be one story or several stories and can include as many rooms as the buyer desires. Modular homes may have full kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas. Just like site-built homes, modular homes can have laundry rooms, basements, fireplaces and more. Even though the modules that make up a modular home are often a uniform size, they can be arranged in a variety of ways to create unique and custom floor plans.
Manufactured homes, on the other hand, are constructed in one single-story unit and come in three standard sizes — single wide, double wide or triple wide.
Because modular homes are constructed of many smaller modules, their floor plan and home design are fully customizable. Buyers can choose the layout and design features for their modular home before construction begins.
For manufactured homes, the size and design of the house are more standard. Buyers of manufactured homes can choose limited features to customize such as the siding or exterior finish, the type of flooring and the type of cabinets.Because modular homes are constructed of many smaller modules, their floor plan and home design are fully customizable. Buyers can choose the layout and design features for their modular home before construction begins.
For manufactured homes, the size and design of the house are more standard. Buyers of manufactured homes can choose limited features to customize such as the siding or exterior finish, the type of flooring and the type of cabinets.
The construction of modular homes is regulated in the same way as site-built homes. Modular homes must comply with all building codes — local, state and regional — of the area where they are placed. After a modular home is placed on site, a building inspector must assess it to ensure the home meets building codes and the finishing work was done properly.
Manufactured homes must meet HUD codes during construction that include the home’s fire resistance, energy efficiency, design and more. After a manufactured home is placed on its plot, site inspectors must approve finishing work, such as the electric hookups, but do not inspect the actual structure. Many manufactured homes are marked with a HUD tag that certifies the structure as a manufactured home.
Modular homes can be constructed in nearly any development or neighborhood. Modular homes typically fall under the same similar zoning restrictions as site-built homes, but in rare cases, some communities may not permit modular homes. Restriction of the building of modular homes is often a result of confusion between modular and manufactured homes.
Manufactured homes must meet more stringent zoning requirements and cannot be built in certain developments or neighborhoods.
What Is the Price Difference Between Modular and Manufactured Homes?
When comparing different types of homes, there can be a significant price difference between manufactured, modular and site-built homes. While modular homes are often more expensive than manufactured homes, they are typically more affordable than site-built homes. In addition, other factors like financing and resale value make the price comparison between manufactured and modular homes a bit more nuanced. Modular homes will increase or decrease in value with market swings, just as site-built homes do. Manufactured homes, on the other hand, will decrease in value over time similar to the way that vehicles do. Modular homes are fairly easy to acquire financing for, while many companies do not offer loans or financing for manufactured homes.
Here are a few factors to consider when comparing the cost of modular and manufactured homes:
Modular homes can vary greatly in price depending on the size of the finished home, but often cost more per square foot than manufactured homes, making them more expensive upfront. Compared to a site-built home, however, modular homes are typically much less expensive per square foot.
Manufactured homes are typically the most affordable option for pre-fabricated homes and their low cost is one of the biggest benefits of manufactured homes.
Modular homes often have much better resale value than manufactured homes. The property value of a modular home that is well-constructed can increase over time and follow market trends. Owners of modular homes can also easily upgrade their home with additions like sunrooms, garages, patios and more.
Manufactured homes, on the other hand, cannot be upgraded significantly and generally decrease in value over time.
Financing and Loans
Most lenders offer mortgages and financing options for modular homes. Buyers of modular homes will typically be able to acquire a home loan easily.
Manufactured homes are typically more difficult to finance due to their already low price, and most lenders do not offer mortgages for manufactured homes. If a lender does offer loans for manufactured homes, these loans may have much higher interest rates than loans for site-built homes.
When comparing the cost of manufactured and modular homes, buyers should consider if they want to invest more up front for a modular home or save on overall price with a manufactured home. Manufactured homes offer the benefit of being affordable enough to purchase without loans or financing, but will likely lose value over time. Those who choose to invest in a modular home may enjoy the benefits of their home appreciating in value and earn a great return on their investment.
Benefits of Modular Homes
Because of the confusion between modular homes and manufactured homes, many home buyers associate modular homes with trailers or mobile homes. However, modular homes often more closely resemble site-built homes than manufactured homes. Modular homes can feature beautiful and spacious designs with many of the same additional features as site-built houses for the homeowner to enjoy. Modular homes can provide an affordable and efficient alternative to site-built homes and offer the same or better construction quality.
Here are a few benefits of choosing a modular home:
Superior Construction Quality Control
Because modular homes are constructed in a controlled factory environment, they offer better quality controls than site-built homes. Modular homes are built in an environment with humidity, temperature and other quality controls that prevent building materials from being exposed to the elements as they can be in site-built construction. Because modules for modular homes are mass-produced, they are consistent in quality and design. Third-party inspections ensure that modular homes meet quality standards and building codes during every stage of the construction process.
The construction of modular homes is much more efficient than the construction of site-built homes. Construction companies can also save money by purchasing raw materials in bulk. These cost benefits for the construction company can then be passed on to the home buyer.
Because modular homes are constructed in a controlled environment, material waste is greatly reduced. Mass production of modular homes can lead to a more energy- and fuel-efficient construction process. Modular homes are often considered one of the most environmentally friendly building options available on the market today.
Faster Construction Time
Modular homes can be built in a matter of weeks and can be constructed while the home’s foundation is prepared. When building a modular home, rain and snow do not cause delays in construction or cause damage to building materials. Modular homes are a great option for home buyers who want to build a customized house quickly.
Modular homes often have excellent energy efficiency as each module joins seamlessly with the next. This benefits the environment and saves on heating and cooling costs for the homeowner.
Stronger Home Construction
Modular homes are often built with extremely strong materials that ensure their structural integrity during transportation. Many modular homes are stronger than site-built homes and better able to withstand severe weather or natural disasters.
Customizable Home Design
For home buyers looking to create the house of their dreams, modular homes offer a flexible design with a multitude of different floor plans to choose from. Modular homes can have any number of rooms with additional features that the buyer desires. Many modular home construction companies carry top brands for cabinetry, flooring and other design features. Modular homes allow the buyer to create the right size and design of home for their family.
Modular Construction With Green Diamond Builders
Whether you are shopping for your first house or looking for a bigger home for your growing family, modular building offers high-quality and cost-efficient homes. The pre-fabricated building industry will continue to grow as more prospective homeowners choose modular homes to suit their budget and needs. If you are considering a modular home in Delaware or Maryland, look no further than Green Diamond Builders. Modular homes from Green Diamond Builders are constructed in controlled facilities to ensure their quality and strength. Our modular homes come with a 10-year structural warranty and are easy to customize in both size and design. To learn more about our modular building services or explore our modular home communities in Delaware and Maryland, contact Green Diamond Builders today.