When it comes to buying or building your own home, there are three popular options: Manufactured, modular, and site-built.
We’ll explain the differences and compare these three types of homes so you can determine what is best for you and your family.
Related: 2022 Update: The Cheapest Way To Build a House
What Is a Manufactured Home?
Commonly called mobile homes, manufactured homes typically come in single-, double-, and triple-wide varieties.
Like modular homes, companies manufacture these homes entirely indoors inside a factory. Then, they deliver the completed section to your property for assembly.
Manufactured homes do not require a permanent foundation (basements, crawlspaces, etc.)—but you can place them on one; this is one of the most significant differences between manufactured, modular, and site-built homes.
Instead of a permanent foundation, manufactured homes often have a permanent steel frame attached to the floor structure, allowing them to be set on concrete piers, which provide a solid footing with fewer costs.
Manufactured homes also come with a title of ownership, meaning you can keep them separate from the land it’s placed on.
Other than not needing a permanent foundation, the construction process for a manufactured home is the same as for a modular home—it’s built in sections in a factory, delivered, and assembled.
What Is a Modular Home?
Modular homes are more similar to site-built homes—the primary difference is the construction process.
For example, you could build identical houses (one as a modular home and one as a site-built home). They would be the same quality, built to the same codes and standards, but constructed differently.
Instead of building the house on-site, modular homes get built in a factory setting—like manufactured homes. After it’s built, each section (or module) gets transported to your property before being set on a foundation with a crane. Then, a construction crew assembles those modules to build your finished home.
However, you can build a modular home much faster than a site-built one—some homes can be built in under six months.
The primary reason why we can build modular homes much faster is that the foundation and home can be built at the same time instead of waiting for the foundation to be complete before working on the home.
In addition, weather is less likely to cause delays in the modular home building process—the entire manufacturing takes place inside a factory. And due to efficient factory building methods, your home builder can likely give you an accurate date for when to expect the finished project.
What Is a Site-Built Home?
Also called stick-built homes, site-built homes are what they sound like—houses built directly on a property.
First, construction crews will set a foundation. Then, they’ll build your home piece-by-piece on top of the foundation—hence the name “stick-built.”
Site-built homes are likely what comes to mind when thinking about building or buying a home—it’s a construction method that has been used for hundreds of years.
Building site-built homes can take anywhere from a few months to a few years—establishing a specific timeframe is channeling because it comes with many more variables than manufactured and modular homes—the location, unpredictable delays, weather conditions, etc.
Related: The Timeline to Build a Manufactured Home
Manufactured vs. Modular vs. Site-Built: An Honest Comparison
Next, let’s compare the quality/safety, customizability, and pricing of these three types of homes:
Every manufactured home has to meet national standards no matter where it’s built and placed in the country. These standards are called the national HUD code—they regulate things like:
And much more
Modular and site-built homes must adhere to the same standards to ensure safety and the use of quality materials. However, modular homes have the edge—they’re built indoors, meaning the materials don’t get exposed to the elements, which can affect the home’s final quality.
A common misconception is that you can’t customize manufactured and modular homes—this isn’t true.
While site-built homes often win in the customizability category, modular and manufactured homes offer quite a bit in this area, too.
Because modular homes and many manufactured homes get built in sections, they are highly customizable, and most builders will work with you to design the perfect layout for you and your family.
There’s no doubt about it—site-built homes are (by far) the most expensive option.
Why? Because the factory building process of manufactured and modular homes can save you a ton of money.
In addition, manufactured and modular home factories can reduce your costs because they buy materials in bulk directly from the major distributors and store those materials in a quality-controlled indoor facility.
And the factory building process is more efficient, which reduces labor costs and passes the savings to you. Most factors employ long-term workers and have set processes, removing surprise costs like employee travel, turnover, and adverse weather conditions.
Ultimately, choosing a manufactured or modular home over a stick-built home can save you thousands without sacrificing quality.
Which Home Is Right for You?
Deciding which type of home is right for you isn’t easy, and it might take some time. Consider these key takeaways about manufactured, modular, and site-built homes before making your final decision:
Created in a factory and assembled on your property
No foundation required (however, you can set it on a permanent foundation)
Includes steel frames as part of the floor structure
Can be ready in 2-4 months
Typically the least expensive option
Most manufacturers allow for customizable floor plans
Built to the HUD code
Related: Are Mobile Homes Safe?
Also created in a factory and delivered to your property
Set and assembled on a permanent foundation (about one week)
Can be ready in 2-6 months
Less expensive than site-built homes without sacrificing quality
Completely customizable floor plans
Held to high building code standards
Entirely constructed on your property
Built piece-by-piece on your permanent foundation
Can take months to years to be ready
Most expensive building option
Held to high code standards and examined by local officials
Not built in a quality-controlled environment
Looking for your dream home? Whether it’s manufactured, modular, or site-built, let us help get you into the best!