Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (2024)

Here we share our guide to modular vs. manufactured homes including the major differences between types with pros & cons, cost and features.
Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (1)If you have been doing your due diligence and looking into all the options available to you when building a new home, you might have heard the terms “modular” and “manufactured” homes.

You might then be wondering what these terms mean and, which of these types might be better for your own future residence.

Both of these options are what can be thought of as “factory-built”, “pre-built” or “prefab” houses. This means that the structures start out life in a manufacturer’s factory.

These types are originally constructed at the manufactures facilities then transported to a building site where they can be assembled by local contractors in a matter of days.

So basically, the “parts” of these houses are built in a factory then assembled at the site. This is considered quite different from “traditionally built” houses which are now often referred to as “site-built” because, well, they’re built on site.

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What is the Difference Between Modular and Manufactured Homes?

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (2)The major difference between these two typess lies in how they are constructed on site.

First of all, modular residences are built in sections at a factory. Manufactured types, however, while also built at a factory are built in one piece.

Both the pieces of these houses are transported to their building site. When a modular home arrives, it is put together by local contractors. Meanwhile, a manufactured type, is then placed on and attached to a temporary or permanent foundation.

While they start out the same, parts constructed in a factory then transported to a site where they are then put together, there are differences in the construction standards they need to meet.

The United States Department of Housing sees the following difference between these two types:

Modular Homes – Built according to the building codes of the site where they stand. In other words, they ultimately have to follow the local, county, and state building codes of the site where they are assembled.

Manufactured homes – Construction follows the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) code. One major requirement of HUDs which these houses need to follow is the fact that they need to be built on top of a permanent chassis rather than a foundation.

These houses are also known as mobile homes as they can often be attached and moved with a trailer.

How to Tell the Difference Between Modular vs Manufactured Homes?

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (3)As we mentioned, a modular type is built in pieces, while a manufactured design comes in one piece.

Once it is delivered to the building site, it is set on a traditional foundation. Meanwhile, a manufactured house is not necessarily required to be on a permanent foundation, which means they many be less sturdy. However, they are quicker to set up.

These houses come in many of the same styles that you could get with structures built on site. Many manufacturers offer a variety of contemporary styles that will suit almost anyone’s taste.

If you don’t like the styles offered by a manufacturer, you can customize them. You can also add features and extras, like an attic or a garage or a porch. Many tiny home designs use modular pieces to achieve their finished product.

Manufactured houses also come in a variety of styles and it’s quite possible to find one that will fit your tastes. However, they are less easy to customize with “add-ons” to the structure, so if you really want extra features it might be more expensive.

Cost Difference Between Modular and Manufactured Homes

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (4)One major reason to choose these types over a site-built structure is that they are more cost-effective.

Basically, the average cost of a site-built residence is around $100 to 200 square feet. A modular design will cost about $40 to 80 per square feet, with a 20 to 50% increase in price for custom features.

A manufactured type is the cheapest among these three options, costing about $40-50 per square foot.

The reason for the cost difference between these two types and site-built structures comes down to how they are made and constructed.

Since factory-built residences are built in volume by manufacturers, they can purchase the building materials in bulk and at a lower cost. The lower cost of building material will be reflected in the final cost of the project.

Because they are quicker and easier to assemble, you definitely save on labor costs, especially when we are comparing this two home types.

Because a manufactured house basically only requires you to construct a foundation or chassis for the structure to stand on, there’s less on-site construction involved than with a modular residence. This means that it is a little less expensive than a modular type.

Which is Better Modular vs Manufactured Homes?

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (5)The advantage to a modular type is, that since it is built in “pieces” it is easier to customize.

Once a modular structure is “built” on site, it’s more or less considered a permanent piece of property similar to a site-built house.

These houses are considered “real” property, similar to site-built structures, so more financing options are available. They have the same financing options and homeowners have the same protections, legal rights, and tax requirements as site-built propertt owners.

Some examples of popular modular style houses that come in kits are pole barn houses, geodesic domes and barndominiums.

One advantage of a manufactured type is that it is quicker to assemble on-site. As long as the foundation is ready, the house can be standing in less than a week.

Some people also like these structures because they are not “permanent”, you can still move them from the original site. This also means that you can build on land that you are just “renting”. Your renter might balk at having you construct a permanent structure on their land but could agree to this type of home.

The biggest advantage however to a manufactured residence over a modular design is, how soon your home will be completed. It house can be assembled in the factory, delivered, and set up within days. A modular type, however, will take several weeks to be assembled in the factory for delivery.

As with most decisions about housing construction, the answer to the question of what is better, depends on your needs. We’ve outlined some of the biggest considerations for “modular” or “manufactured” being better above, but let’s go into the pros and cons a little deeper.

Modular Homes Pros and Cons

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (6)One major pro or benefit of a modular home is you are literally getting what you paid for. Since every component of the home is manufactured to exact specifications, following the same factory procedures, and subject to the manufacturer’s quality control procedures, you can be sure that what you requested – what is in the brochure – is what you will get in the end.

Another advantage of building this type of home is the construction process is less at the mercy of the weather. Because the major parts are built in a factory and just put together onsite, the different parts are less likely to remain exposed to the elements if construction needs to be delayed due to bad weather.

Also, because the construction process is quicker, you’re likely to be able to schedule the construction together before the weather turns. It takes a manufacturer around one to two months to put together the parts of a modular home on their factory. These homes are then delivered almost 70-90 percent complete and a local contractor should be able to assemble the home in a week or so.

Finally, one major reason to choose modular over site-built is that it is less expensive. On average, the National Association of Homebuilders found that the construction cost of a modular home is 11% less than that of a site-built home.

Manufactured Homes Pros and Cons

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (7)Manufactured homes are regulated by the HUD code, so they are subject to federal standards of strength and durability – including fire and wind resistance. They are also subject to performance standards for heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and thermal and electrical systems.

The fact that they must meet HUD standards means that they have quality features and are often comparable to site-built homes. Aside from this, they are also cheaper, with a final project price that is about 25-50% less.

These homes are subject to rules of the community or developments where there are going to be “built”. Some areas don’t allow manufactured housing so you need to do your research on that before buying this kind of home.

While it is possible to get financing for a manufactured home, you’re going to have to go to less “conventional” means. As they are not considered “permanent”, you might not be able to get a typical home loan or mortgage if you intend to put up a manufactured home.

You could get a retail installment contract with the retailer that sold you the home, which will help you finance the project. You can also apply for a FHA or VA home loan.

Some financial institutions will grant you a conventional mortgage for your manufactured home, but only if you are planning to place the home on a permanent foundation.

Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons) (2024)


Modular vs Manufactured Homes (Differences, Pros & Cons)? ›

If you're looking for a home that will appreciate over time with a lot of options for upgrades and expansion, a modular home could be the perfect fit for you. If you're more interested in saving money and the ability to move your house from one place to another, a manufactured home may be the better option for you.

Is modular better than manufactured? ›

If you're looking for a home that will appreciate over time with a lot of options for upgrades and expansion, a modular home could be the perfect fit for you. If you're more interested in saving money and the ability to move your house from one place to another, a manufactured home may be the better option for you.

What distinguishes a modular home from a manufactured home? ›

Their mobility aside, modular and manufactured homes have several key differences. Modular homes are assembled on a site and anchored to a foundation, whereas a manufactured home is transported in one piece to a site and can be relocated.

What are four drawbacks of modular homes? ›

Of course, modular houses have their downsides. These include less customization capabilities than stick-built homes. The cost of the land and construction of the home may be higher than some people can afford, land restrictions, and perceive quality issues. Modular homes may also have more a complicated loan process.

What the difference between a modular home and a double wide? ›

Modular Homes

The differences between a modular and double-wide home are therefore seen in the foundation. Unlike the steel frame trailer mostly used for the double-wide, a modular home will always be set onto a foundation. The construction is also done in sections and then moved onto the site of your choice.

What are the disadvantages of modular construction? ›

Modular homes have limitations in terms of customization and design flexibility compared to traditional homes. Financing options for modular homes may be more limited and interest rates may be higher. Resale value of modular homes may be lower compared to traditional homes.

What are the main disadvantages of modular design? ›

Lower Costs and Lower Efficiency

However, the greatest disadvantage of having a modular design for electronics has a lot to do with the limited number of configurations. Several parameters that need alteration get fixed by default and cannot be changed. This, in turn, reduces their efficiency.

How much do most modular homes cost? ›

Average Total Cost Of A Modular Home By Type
Modular Home TypeLow-End CostHigh-End Cost
Log home$25,000$250,000
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What is the point of a modular home? ›

Top 10 benefits of modular homes

Modular homes are built in a factory setting away from weather impacts. Quality control is easier and material, or labor shortages are not an issue. Resale value depends on location, curb appeal just like stick homes. Homes construction of modular buildings are high quality.

Are modular homes as good as stick built? ›

Modular homes offer the best of both manufactured and stick built worlds! Having a home built almost entirely at the factory level, increases the quality control, reduces weather delays and damages, as well as offering a Greener way to build!

What is the downside of modular? ›

The cons of modular construction

Because modular construction components are prefabricated away from the job site, you have to consider transportation costs and the risk of damage during transport. It only takes one mishap during transportation to cause a significant setback.

What is the life expectancy of a modular home? ›

The short answer is that modular homes can last just as long as traditional site-built homes, if not longer. In fact, many modular homes come with warranties of up to 50 years. The key to a modular home's longevity lies in its construction process and the materials used.

Why aren t there more modular homes? ›

Obstacles for the modular-housing industry

While the timeline for modular construction is consistently compressed, transportation and other costs can mean it isn't cheaper than building on-site. Investors aren't convinced there's sufficient and consistent demand for modular housing in most markets.

Are modular homes safe in a tornado? ›

These structures are made inside factories, so the materials that go into your home reside in a controlled environment with little moisture. Modular homes are built to be safe in case of a tornado or storm, and inspectors check surfaces for structural soundness before shipping.

What are the pros and cons of manufactured homes? ›

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Manufactured Home
  • Upside: Cost. The number one reason to consider a manufactured home is cost. ...
  • Downside: Finding land to put it on. ...
  • Upside: You can move them (sometimes) ...
  • Downside: Tougher to finance. ...
  • Upside: Energy efficiency. ...
  • Downside: Limited choices.
Nov 16, 2022

Which mobile home manufacturer is the best? ›

TOP 10 Manufactured Builders Ranked – 2023 Study Ratings
1Skyline Homes★★★★★
2Cavco Homes★★★★★
3Genesis Homes★★★★★
4Legacy Housing☆☆☆
5Chariot Eagle☆☆☆
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Which is better modular or non modular? ›

Modular power supplies offer several advantages over non-modular ones. First, they can improve the airflow and cooling inside your case by reducing the clutter of unused cables. Second, they can make your build look neater and more aesthetically pleasing by hiding the excess wires.

What is the main advantage of using a modular? ›

Modular construction has several attractive benefits, including cost savings, shorter construction timelines, environmental sustainability, and improved safety and quality.

Is modular the same as manufactured? ›

From a legal standpoint, the primary difference between modular and manufactured homes is that modular homes are held to the same local, state and regional building codes required for on-site homes, while manufactured homes are held to a federal code set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Are modular homes prone to mold? ›

The nature of modular construction makes it difficult to repair once water or mold damage is found. Sometimes the damage can be such that the modular building has to be deconstructed to remove deteriorated materials, and then re-designed and re-constructed using conventional methods.

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