A Closer Look At Manufactured Homes
When Realtor’s Angela Colley explained how most of us grew up calling them “mobile homes,” it made sense. Although some elements remain the same, today’s factory-built houses are known as manufactured homes — dwellings that are far more customizable and luxurious than the mobile homes of the past.
“Originally, factory-built mobile homes were constructed on a chassis with wheels, hence the “mobile” portion of their name,” says Colley. “Single-wide mobile homes were small, easily movable, and relegated mostly to mobile home parks, recreation sites, and the hearts of kitsch lovers everywhere.” She goes on to explain how the modern standard manufactured home is not a mobile home, in that it is generally intended to be moved only once —to its permanent home site.
Express Homes’ president Chase Daugherty says, “These are built on solid-steel frames, giving them a sturdiness that belies the stereotype of yesteryear.” The permanent chassis can be placed on a foundation, on a lot, or in a home park. The wheels are gone, and the styles have changed, which means today’s home buyers can get a range of floor plans with a host of add-on construction features, including garages, decks, and porches. And unlike mobile homes of the past, the construction of housing built today is highly regulated by HUD and any local building standards.
Daughtery goes on to explain how the homes that are built entirely in the factory under a federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offer standards that were unheard of long ago, being regulated for everything in housing from fire resistance to energy efficiency. In fact, if you were placed in the middle of a newly-built manufactured home without knowing it wasn’t a sticks-and-bricks variety, you probably wouldn’t know it. “In recent years, style updates have included increasing ceiling height and customizing floor plans,” says Colley. “While you can likely spot a manufactured home from the outside—thanks to its rectangular construction—nowadays, many of these homes have the features you’d expect in a standard home and offer a variety of different looks on the interior.”
We’re talking vaulted ceilings, drywall, fully equipped modern kitchens, comfortable bedrooms with walk-in closets, and bathrooms with recessed bathtubs and whirlpools. These structures can also be customized in manufacturing, similar to a standard home remodeling project. Homeowners routinely add upgraded cabinetry, hardwood floors, and fresh lighting to make spaces feel personalized and modern.
There are, however, some upgrades not commonly seen in stick-built, traditional homes, such as extra insulation, ceiling fans, up-flow ceiling vents, and thermal pane windows — all specifically designed to improve airflow, offer lower utility bills, and provide a more comfortable living space.
Of course, the lower price is a huge motivating factor in deciding to opt for a manufactured home. You’ll still have land costs or rental space. However, even after the cost of real property, a single-family home manufactured in a factory and transported to your building site costs far less per square foot than one constructed on-site, making it ideal for moderate- and lower-income potential buyers.
Financing a mobile or manufactured home can be difficult, particularly if you want to do so with a mortgage. So check with your lender on any options that might be available to you.