While the terms “modular home” and “manufactured home” refer to two very different things, they are sometimes used interchangeably. Perhaps some of this confusion stems from the fact that modular homes are, in fact, manufactured (“manufactured” might be an unfortunate label.) Also, traditional “site-built” homes are not necessarily better than modular homes, despite the stigma associated with their assembly-line origin. There have been cases where Realtors and builders of manufactured homes have misrepresented manufactured homes as modular homes, and buyers were not informed enough to know the difference. Everyone (especially inspectors, who make their living examining residences) should understand the distinguishing features of these two types of houses.
A Modular home is built to the exact same state building code that every new site (‘Stick’) built home is constructed under, AND THAT CODE WILL VARY FROM STATE TO STATE. A Manufactured (aka ‘Mobile) home is built under a national code (called the ‘HUD Code’) that – although it is very similar to the regular building code – supersedes any local or state building code. This means that a HUD Code Manufactured home can be placed on private land anywhere in the nation, regardless of the local or state building codes governing site built homes.
A manufactured home is certified under the national Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards and is strictly regulated both in design and construction. Every home goes through hundreds of inspections during the manufacturing process to ensure quality and consistency of product.
A manufactured home can be shipped to any state in the United States. A modular home ?ALSO GOES THROUGH A RIGOROUS INSPECTION PROCESS IN THE FACTORY BUT ?can only be sited within the area of the jurisdiction that approved the home. ?HERE IN Indiana? FOR EXAMPLE?, we have the Indiana Residential Code that regulates all modular and conventionally constructed homes. Therefore, an Indiana certified modular home can be located anywhere within Indiana.
Modular homes are residences constructed entirely in factories and transported to their sites on flatbed trucks. They are built under controlled conditions, and must meet strict quality-control requirements before they are delivered. They arrive as block segments and are neatly assembled, using cranes, into homes that are almost indistinguishable from comparable ones built on-site. Wind and rain do not cause construction delays or warp building materials. In addition, modular homes:
Proponents of modular homes claim that their indoor, environmentally controlled construction affords them greater strength and resilience than homes built on-site. They also 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 withstand 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 the area. They take less time to construct than site-built homes, are more energy-efficient, and generally cost less.
Despite their manufacturing process, modular homes are essentially the same as homes that are built on-site. They are treated the same under the law, and their basic structural features are almost indistinguishable from site-built homes, once assembled. Manufactured homes are relatively small, inexpensive, mobile residences that require a smaller commitment than is required by modular and site-built homes. It is important to understand the differences between these home types in order to reduce the influence of stigmas, misrepresentation and ignorance.
(reprinted from nachi.org)