What is a mobile home? What is a manufactured home? Sometimes they’re used interchangeably, sometimes the user believes they are not one and the same. Are these two terms referring to different types of housing? Or are they one and the same?
As confusion abounds when it comes to the words mobile home vs manufactured home, we’re making it our business to bring some clarity to the table. If you’re in the market for a new home, you definitely need to know what you and the seller are talking about.
Laying out the proper definition of words is important in any discussion. As we continue to tackle the topic of mobile homes, it’s key that we take a moment to pause and get a firm grip on these two phrases.
Mobile home vs manufactured home: A brief history
To explain the history and differences of the mobile home vs manufactured home, we must take a moment to step back in time.
This history of U.S. manufactured housing goes way back into the early 1900s. For the traveling folk of the 1920s, trailer coaches came into style. This gave them a step up in comfort from the usual campground tent. (As you’ve surmised, manufactured homes and RV trailers share a history!)
After, the next big chapter in manufactured housing began during post-WWII. When the war veterans returned to the States, they needed to find housing and work. Due to the difficulty in building their new lives after the war, mobile home manufacturers became more popular. They were able to provide these veterans with homes for their families.
These homes not only provided shelter but also gave them the freedom to travel. Early mobile homes provided families with a greater sense of portability. And more opportunity to relocate for the purpose of finding work gave added benefit to these homes.
Pushing onward, in the 1960s, the market made demands for updated features and quality. This is when these manufactured homes gained the term “mobile home.” The dingy reputation and stigma of the 50s gave way to the progress that would ensue to bring about the durable and beautiful mobile homes of our day.
Bigger and better looking than the trailers of years gone by, a new generation of young families and even singles flocked to these homes. Economical affordability made it an irresistible choice. The 60s and 70s held the key to the future of manufactured housing. And unlike the trailers of the 20s, these homes were bigger and less suitable for travel.
HUD code’s impact on housing history
As these homes became popular as viable housing options, the federal government realized a need for a higher construction quality and procedure. For the benefit of both consumers and manufacturers alike, U.S. Congress initiated the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Act (also known as HUD.)
Passed in 1976, the HUD manufactured housing code held manufacturers to a higher quality of set standards. This was a significant turning point in the history of the mobile home. Since then, manufacturers have fine-tuned their designs and construction. Thus, homeowners gain a quality home with more energy efficient appliances and construction.
In 1980, Congress amended the HUD code, changing “… the term “mobile home” to “manufactured home.” Revises the definition of such term to mean a structure, transportable in one or more sections, which is more than eight body feet in width, is more than 40 body feet in length in the traveling mode, or is 320 or more square feet in interior space when erected on site.”
As a result, the term “manufactured home” became the standard when speaking of manufactured housing.
So prior to 1976, this type of housing was called a “mobile home”; afterward, the term “manufactured home” became more appropriate. These homes are built in a factory and on a chassis. They are suitable for traveling to the home site where it may be installed on a foundation and connected to home utilities.
Among other changes in the history of the mobile home, sizing is a notable difference.
They went from being the tiny structures of the 1920s to the spacious single wides, double wides, and triple wides of our day. Due to these and other significant evolutions in the history of manufactured housing, it is oftentimes difficult to tell a stick built and factory-built home apart.
So what does this story mean for you?
In short, there’s no difference between a mobile home vs manufactured home. Both can be used interchangeably in any discussion about factory built homes. Although, we must make note that term “manufactured home” is the legal phrasing of our day.
With that tale aside, you should know there is a difference between a modular home and a mobile home (also known as a manufactured home)! We even took the time to explore the differences in a three-part series.