Mobile homes, manufactured homes, modular homes, and even park models and tiny homes, are similar in a number of ways but will differ due to the code that they are built to.

Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are generally recognized as factory-built homes built before the enactment of the HUD-code in 1976. Mobile homes may be built to a local building code or to voluntary trailer codes standardized by several associations active during the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

Manufactured Homes - HUD-Code

Manufactured homes are homes built from June 15, 1976 to today. They are built to a minimum Federal building code, recognized widely as the "HUD-code". This code is titled the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, CFR 24 Part 3280. This code was put in place due to a piece of legislation called National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. As homes are designed, the industry’s manufacturers will submit a design for a home they are planning to offer for sale to a design approval agency – called IPIA or DIPIA. These agencies will ensure that the homes are built to the proper safety standards and requirements. The IPIA and DIPIA agencies are overseen by a government contractor known as IBTS.

A federal code guarantees that all manufactured homes are built to a minimum standard. With the modern manufactured homes, we find that most homes built today far surpass the basic HUD required minimums. Whether you are purchasing an existing manufactured home or working with a retailer to design the manufactured home of your dreams, you can be assured that the designs have been approved and meet or exceed the HUD-code, and that the home has been inspected during the construction process.

Homes built to the Federal HUD-code will be a minimum of 400 square feet and are built by a number of manufacturers across the U.S. Some manufacturers own single factories and are typically found in certain regions of the country; it’s can be quite costly to ship a home cross country so they will limit the number of states they offer their homes in. Other manufacturers, with larger footprints, will have plants strategically placed to reduce shipping costs for both manufacturing as well as shipping to the customer.

Modular Homes - State and Local Codes

Modular homes, factory-built homes built to a local or state building code, are in many ways similar to manufactured homes. At one time the modular code was considered a superior built product to manufactured homes; however, this is no longer the case. The California Manufactured Housing Institute offers a great side-by-side comparison of the CABO modular code to the Federal HUD-code based on a study published in December 1997 by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture-Building Research Council.

Modular homes can be built off-frame or on-frame. Off-frame homes are built in a factory with a removable chassis/frame. Once at the home site, they are craned off the chassis and onto the home’s permanent foundation. On-frame modular constructed homes are built on a permanent chassis/frame and place on the foundation in a similar manner to the manufactured home. This is an important item to note as it can ultimately affect finance choices as certain institutions categorize the on-frame modular home into similar finance terms as the manufactured home.

Park Model - Mobile/Trailer Codes

Park model are built to a recreation vehicle code, called the ANSI A119.5. A concession was recently made for park models within the HUD-code as well; they cannot exceed 500 square feet however. The park model generally does not exceed 15 feet in width or 36 feet in length.

They are not designed for full-time housing and are intended. Additional information on the definition of a park model can be found on the RV Industry Association’s website.

Tiny Homes

Tiny homes... Where do we start with tiny homes? Currently, they are in a gray area between RV and manufactured homes.

The MPower Data team suggests that you do a bit of research on your own as this topic seems to be in limbo and municipalities across the U.S. treat them a bit differently and have wildly different views on them.

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