Understanding Dissimilarities in Different Kinds of Homes: Mobile, Manufactured, Modular, and Factory-built, for Home Energy Efficiency

Reviewed and Revised on 01/03/2014

All kinds of homes- mobile, manufactured, modular, and factory-built, are built in a factory. The difference lies in how much construction occurs at the factory and how much assembly occurs at the actual home site. When more work is done at the factory, less labor and work is needed at the home location. Energy efficiency issues and solutions for all these homes could be similar or vary depending upon the construction process and other issues. This article is meant to provide the readers with an overview about the basic differences in the different kinds of homes to help them in turn understand the energy issues in their particular home type. 

Mobile and Manufactured Homes

Photo of Mobile home

The term “mobile home” refers to factory built homes built prior to the establishment of HUD code in 1976. Mobile homes are now known as manufactured home and are federally regulated by this HUD Code, which provides design and construction requirements for the complete production of the home in a factory plus the permitted modifications for its on-site completion. The HUD code supersedes all state and local codes in the country and is the “only” federally regulated code applicable on national level. 

Manufactured HUD code homes are built entirely at a factory, have a chassis for transporting, and usually require only hook-up of utilities, anchoring, and certain appliances upon delivery. New technology has made available high ceilings and steep roof pitches through hinged roof systems and two-story homes, so they may look like site built homes. These homes may be installed on a temporary or a permanent foundation. When installed, a mobile home’s wheels and axles could be removed, but the chassis must stay in place.

http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-manufactured-homes article by Department of Energy provides information on energy related issues for manufactured homes.

Modular Homes

Photo of Modular home

A modular home is one that is built in sections (modules) at a factory and then assembled on site. It may consist of fully factory finished modules that need only a site built foundation and finishing of the seams where modules connect. Sometimes, the modules are not completely factory finished and may require finishing work (e.g. carpet, paint, appliances) at the home site. Modules may be stacked to form multiple stories. 

A modular home must be designed, permitted, built, and inspected in accordance with the local building codes for the site where it is installed. It must also have a permanent foundation designed and built specifically for that home.

Factory-built homes

“Factory-built” is a broad term that includes manufactured HUD code homes, modular homes, and homes assembled with factory-built segments. Panelized and precut homes may be considered “site built,” but are distinguished from “stick built” homes that are framed on site with individual studs.

Panelized home—one for which whole wall, and sometimes roof or floor sections, are built at the factory and connected together on site.

Precut home—one for which the building materials for that home are cut and sized at a factory and assembled on site.

For more information on different kinds of homes click here.