Mobile, Manufactured, and Modular Homes – What is the Difference?!

Have you ever wondered WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE in mobile, manufactured, or modular homes?


We are often asked by our buyers whether or not mobile homes, manufactured homes, or modular homes are allowed on our properties. As we sell properties in multiple states, counties, and subdivisions, the restrictions and covenants are always differing, but for the most part all areas classify the differences in these types of structures the same.

If you are thinking about putting one of these structures on your new property, always check if they are allowed first with the county planning and zoning department. In addition, the subdivision the parcel is in may have its own set of covenants that have restrictions separate from the county. Always check first. 

So, what I want to help with here is what the difference is between these types of structures. These differences can be important depending on the county or subdivision you’re in. So you will want to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules when you purchase and install your structure.

Mobile Homes

Manufactured homes and mobile homes have often been used interchangeably. However, in 1974 the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act and then the HUD Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards in 1976 the differences in these two structures were made more distinct.

Prior to these acts, there was hardly any oversight in mobile homes building specifications. Mobile homes used to be constructed to have a similar look to campers with the wheels visible as well as the trailer coupler. These mobile homes generally had steel L-beams and could be put up on blocks, concrete foundations, or stands.

Prior to the acts in 1974 and 1976, mobile homes were mass produced and served the purpose of being able to be, well, very mobile. However, the demand changed to wanting the mobility but still having a larger mobile home with more amenities not available in the older version. So when the new codes were enacted, many changes were made including changing the word “mobile” to “manufactured” and implementing many new safety standards that were not included in the previous versions of the mobile home!

Manufactured Homes

When you really think about it, manufactured homes appear vastly different from a mobile home. Manufactured homes have different sizes; single-wide, double-wide, and triple-wide. In addition, manufactured homes provide different options for the interior and exterior. You can choose carpeting, cabinets, you can choose the colors of the outside, the shutters, etc. Also, manufactured homes generally have skirting, and also can have a permanent foundation or even be built over a basement like a regular home!

Manufactured homes can be moved around, but not nearly as easily as the old-school mobile homes. 

Overall, as you can see, the options for manufactured homes are safer and also much more customizable than the original mobile home. 

Modular Homes

Modular homes have all of the same customizable options that manufactured homes have. The difference is that modular homes are built in multiple pieces rather than just one piece like a manufactured home. Sometimes modular homes can be built into as many as five pieces. 

Once all these pieces are joined, they can look very much like a site-built home! Modular homes and manufactured homes give people the opportunity to have a home, not far off from a site-built home, but without the higher costs that come with them.

So, now that you have a better idea of the difference between these types of structures, you can better decide what works best for you. From what we have found, a lot of areas do not allow mobile homes at all anymore in their subdivisions. Some do. 

The primary difference is the safety differences in mobile homes built prior to the 1974 and 1976 acts. As mentioned before, always check with the county before deciding on your structure as well as the subdivision if applicable. Happy mobile, manufactured, or modular homing!