What Is a Manufactured Home?

The term manufactured home, although not a new term, still causes confusion among home buyers. The first thing to note is that a manufactured home is not a mobile home. However, they do share the same history.  Prior to 1976, mobile homes were built as the solution to a shortage in site-built housing. High demand called for quick construction at the expense of safety and quality. On June 15, 1976, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stepped in and renovated the whole industry by enacting a new set of construction standards. These standards gave birth to a new kind of home: The manufactured home.

Definition of a Manufactured Home

Manufactured homes are 325-4,000 square foot homes built on steel chassis with wheels and are manufactured inside a factory or plant. Manufactured homes can be placed on permanent foundations with a wide variety of skirting options including brick giving the appearance of a site-built home. The home will be produced in one or more units and wrapped in plastic to protect it when transporting. When arriving at its destination, it is put together as one unit and will be under the jurisdiction of local codes. Recreational vehicles are not classified under this definition. Nor are modular homes.

Learn more about manufactured homes vs mobile homes or modular homes.

What Are the Standards for a Manufactured Home?

The standards for a manufactured home are set by HUD and have been put into place to protect people buying a manufactured home, ensuring that their home has the same safe living conditions as a site-built home.

  1. General – This category covers the description of the standards.
  2. Planning Considerations – It covers house plan considerations, as well as openings and glass.
  3. Fire Safety – Flame spread limitations, fire-blocking, thermal insulation, smoke alarms, and fire testing.
  4. Body and Frame Construction – This covers materials, construction design requirements, windstorm resistance, protection from the elements, and formaldehyde emissions.
  5. Testing – Structural load tests, testing roof trusses, window requirements, sliding glass, skylights, egress windows, and swinging exterior passage doors.
  6. Thermal Protection – In these standards are materials, condensation control, air infiltration, heat/loss gain, comfort heat gain, and comfort cooling.
  7. Plumbing Systems – Materials, joints and connections, traps and clean-outs, plumbing fixtures, hangers and supports, water distribution, drainage systems, vents, and venting.
  8. Heating and Cooling and Fuel-Burning Systems – Gas piping, oil piping, heat-producing appliances, exhaust duct systems, appliance installation, venting, accessibility, appliances cooling, and circulation air systems.
  9. Electrical Systems – Standards are for power supply, disconnecting means, branch circuits, receptacle outlets, fixtures, and appliances, wiring methods, grounding, electrical testing, calculations, wiring of expandable units, outdoor units, painting of wiring, and polarization.
  10. Transportation – These standards include designing the structure to withstand wind, vibration, and shock during transportation.

The standards for constructing a manufactured home are extensive and all-inclusive. These standards assure you of a quality home and one that can be financed by lenders that are up to date with their underwriting.

Who Monitors and Does the Testing?

“There are 13 HUD-approved State and private third party agencies that inspect a manufactured home at various stages of production. Some of the third party agencies also approve the manufacturer’s designs to ensure the plans are consistent with HUD Standards. Manufacturers contract directly with a State or local third party agency and pay for the design review and home inspection services.”

How Do I Know the Manufactured Home I Am Buying Has Met These Standards?

Some mobile homeowners, in an attempt to sell their home, may make modifications to bring their homes “up to code”. Even with modifications, mobile homes will not meet HUD’s requirements. It’s important for potential buyers to understand that HUD will never retroactively issue a tag for mobile homes. When shopping for a used manufactured home, ask to see the HUD label; if the label is there, then you know that the manufactured home was built to HUD standards. For more information on this subject check out: What Is the Difference Between a Manufactured Home and a Mobile Home?

The HUD Label, What Is It, and Where Is It?

The Certification Tag is a metal tag that is permanently installed on the outside of the unit. The Data Plate is paper, the size of 81/2″x11″. It is to adhere to either a kitchen cabinet, electrical panel or bedroom closet. It will contain information relevant to the area of the nation that the manufactured home will be in. Both tags must be in a HUD approved manufactured home. With these tags, you can be assured the home has been under the rigorous testing and standards required of a manufactured home.

FAQ’s About HUD Manufactured Homes

HUD has a frequently asked questions page for HUD manufactured homes. Some questions: whom do I contact if my home installation causes damages? Or, what kind of financing is available for my home? Check their page for helpful answers to these and many other questions.