Mobile Homes, Manufactured Homes, and Modular Homes: What's the Difference?
There are many types of structures that are built in a factory and designed for long-term residential use. In the case of manufactured homes and modular homes, units are built in a factory, transported to the site and installed. In panelized and pre-cut homes, essentially flat subassemblies (factory-built panels or factory-cut building materials) are transported to the site and assembled. The different types of factory-built housing can be summarized as follows:
Manufactured homes are built entirely in the factory under a federal building code administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (commonly known as the HUD Code) went into effect June 15, 1976. Manufactured homes may be single- or multi-section and are transported to the site and installed. All transportable sections of manufactured homes built in the U.S. after June 15, 1976 must contain a red label on the home; the label (also know as a HUD tag) is the manufacturer's certification that the home section is built in accordance with HUD's construction and safety standards. The federal standards regulate manufactured housing design and construction, strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality. The HUD Code also sets performance standards for the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. It is the only federally-regulated national building code. On-site additions, such as garages, decks and porches, often add to the attractiveness of manufactured homes and must be built to local, state or regional building codes.
The definition of the term "manufactured home" is regulated by federal law (Code of Federal Regulations, 24 CFR 3280): "Manufactured homes are built as dwelling units of at least 320 square feet (30 m2) in size with a permanent chassis to assure the initial and continued transportability of the home." The requirement to have a wheeled chassis permanently attached differentiates a manufactured home from the other types of prefabricated homes described below.
Mobile Homes: This is the term used for manufactured homes produced prior to June 15, 1976, when the HUD Code went into effect. By 1970, these homes were built to voluntary industry standards that were eventually enforced by 45 of the 48 contiguous states.
Modular Homes: These factory-built homes are built to the state, local or regional code where the home will be located. Modules are transported to the site and installed.
Panelized Homes: These are factory-built homes in which panels - a whole wall with windows, doors, wiring and outside siding - are transported to the site and assembled. The homes must meet state or local building codes where they are sited.
Pre-Cut Homes: This is the name for factory-built housing in which building materials are factory-cut to design specifications, transported to the site and assembled. Pre-cut homes include kit, log and dome homes. These homes must meet local, state or regional building codes.
Manufactured Homes FAQ's
What is a Park Model RV?
Although the distinctive appearance of park model RVs (PMRVs) may sometimes lead people to think they look like small manufactured homes, appearances can be deceiving. PMRVs are actually titled and registered just like any other RV. Due to their design, small size and use as recreation, vacation and seasonal units, PMRVs are explicitly excluded from being considered or used as a manufactured home under the codes and regulations of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) specifically because they are a type of recreation vehicle (Title 24 § 3282.8(g)).
Park model RVs are built in accordance with the national safety standards set forth under a nationally recognized standard, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A119.5 Standard, not the HUD requirements that manufactured homes are mandated to comply with. The key distinction is that manufactured homes are single-family dwellings that are designed and built for permanent residency under standards set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Park models RVs, as noted, are designed and built to be used by families as a recreational, camping, or seasonal accommodation. PMRVs are not intended for, nor should they be used for, anything other than recreational camping or seasonal use. They are not permanent residences and should never be used as such.
Like RV motor homes, travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers, park model RVs are built to ensure safety but are not required to meet the building codes or installation codes that stick-built or manufactured homes are required to meet. They are designed to remain on their axles and wheels, ready for movement and are not connected to the ground by footers, foundations, or columns (some local units of government do require them to be anchored to the ground due to excessive local winds, but even then they can easily be detached in minutes with only hand tools).
PMRVs are not housing. There is no practical difference in the use of PMRVs than travel trailers or fifth-wheel trailers. They are not 'improvements' to campgrounds any more than a travel trailer placed and used in a campground is. They are simply one choice among many in the RV camping environment.
What are my options for financing the purchase of a manufactured home?
There are many alternatives for financing your home, including a growing number of lending institutions that are providing conventional and government-insured financing plans for prospective owners. The most common method of financing a manufactured home is through a retail installment contract, available through your retailer. Some lending institutions that offer conventional, long-term real estate mortgages may require the homes to be placed on approved foundations. Manufactured homes are eligible for government-insured loans offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Veterans Administration (VA), and the Rural Housing Services (RHS) under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For additional assistance, you may wish to contact the HUD Housing Counseling Clearinghouse. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies provide housing counseling to renters, first-time buyers, and homeowners. Homeowners with problems that could result in default of their mortgage or foreclosure on their property need to contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency immediately. HUD's Housing Counseling Clearinghouse operates a toll-free 24-hour-a-day automated voice response system that provides referrals to local housing counseling agencies, at (800) 569-4287. Referrals are also available to Spanish-speaking consumers.
Whom do I contact if my home was damaged during installation?
Retailers may contract with their customers for the installation of their homes, in which case the retailer is your first contact for installation-related problems. If the retailer does not arrange for the installation and you choose the installation contractor, you should contact the installer who performed the work. If you are not satisfied with the repair, contact the local authority/SAA having jurisdiction. It is important that all services related to the installation be listed separately in the contract.
What should I do if I'm having problems with my home and the Retailer and/or Manufacturer are no longer in business?
Contact your SAA or State agency that regulates manufactured home manufacturers or retailers. Your State may administer a bonding or recovery fund program for such instances.
My home was built before June 15, 1976. I've made some modifications to my home and believe it meets the HUD Standards. Can someone come inspect my home to make sure it's in compliance with the Standards?
HUD does not inspect homes. Homes built prior to June 15, 1976, even with modifications, do not meet the HUD standards and cannot be accepted as compliant with the HUD Code. As the homeowner, you may find a licensed engineer willing to inspect your home for compliance with your state's housing code. FHA does not insure mortgages on manufactured homes built prior to June 15, 1976. Most other mortgage insurance firms follow FHA's policy.
Will HUD issue certification labels (HUD tags) if my home was built before 1976?
No. The Department will not issue tags for a manufactured (mobile) home constructed prior to the enforcement of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, effective June 15, 1976.
What kind of financing is available for my manufactured home?
HUD's FHA program insures two types of mortgages. Title II insures mortgages on qualifying manufactured homes sold with land and meeting other requirements. FHA's Title I program can provide information to consumers interested in obtaining HUD-insured loans. You may also want to contact lending institutions in your area (or the area where you want to purchase your home) for additional financing options.
What if HUD does not consider my home to meet its requirements for Title I or Title II insured loans? Are there still financing options available to me?
You may wish to consult with private lending institutions such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae to see if financial assistance is available to you.
I'm interested in purchasing a mobile home park or building a mobile home park. Where can I go for assistance?
You may contact the Office of Multifamily Housing at 202-708-2495 for assistance. Section 207, which is an FHA mortgage insurance program for HUD-approved lenders, promotes the creation of manufactured home communities by increasing the availability of affordable financing and mortgages.
I live in a mobile home park and I'm having problems with my landlord. Can HUD help me?
HUD does not regulate manufactured (mobile) home parks; however, most states have an association (https://www.mobilehomeparkstore.com/mhp_associations.htm) that can assist manufactured (mobile) homeowners with problems they are encountering.
I have a park model home and have made upgrades to my home. I was told I need a HUD label. How do I get one?
Regardless of the upgrades made to your park model, it is not possible to obtain a HUD label on any structure that was not produced and inspected as a manufactured home in accordance with HUD's Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards and Regulations during its original construction. You may contact the Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association (https://www.rptia.com) for additional information and resources regarding park model homes.
I have a deck/porch that's been added to an existing manufactured home and was told I need to get an AC letter. How do I get one?
The purpose of an Alternate Construction (AC) letter is to permit manufacturers to build innovative manufactured (mobile) homes with the new technology. Homes built under the AC program do not conform to the requirements of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, 24 CFR Part 3280 (the Standards). Manufacturers must obtain permission from the Department prior to construction and shipment of homes built under the AC program.
Patios and decks are regulated by the construction codes for each state and/or local housing authority. If the property has an addition attached after the home was sited, the attachment is not regulated by HUD Standards or Regulations; therefore the property does not need an AC letter.
Certification Label and Data Plate FAQ's
What is a HUD Tag?
The Certification Label (also known as a HUD tag) is a metal plate that is affixed to the outside of the manufactured home. Section 3280.11(b) states, "The label shall be approximately 2 in. by 4 in. in size and shall be permanently attached to the manufactured home by means of 4 blind rivets, drive screws, or other means that render it difficult to remove without defacing it. The label number shall be etched or stamped with a 3 letter designation which identifies the production inspection primary inspection agency, and which the Sectary shall assign. Each label shall be marked with a 6 digit number which the label supplier shall furnish. The labels shall be stamped with numbers sequentially." HUD does not reissue tags for manufactured homes. However, the Department can issue a letter of label (tag) verification for units for which it can locate the necessary historical information. The label numbers can be found on a data plate inside the home in one of three locations: on or near the main electrical panel, in a kitchen cabinet, in a bedroom closet. The data plate has a map of the United States to let the consumer know the Wind Zone and Snow Load for which their home was built.
You may request letters of label verification from the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS), by visiting IBTS's website at https://www.ibts.org/label_req.htm or via fax at: 703-437-6894.
What is a Data Plate?
The Data Plate is a paper label affixed inside the home and is located in a kitchen cabinet, an electrical panel, or a bedroom closet. The Data Plate will contain the following information: (a) the name and address of the manufacturing plant in which the home was manufactured, (b) the serial numbers and model designation, and the date the unit was manufactured, (c) a statement which references that the home was built in accordance to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, (d) a list of the certification label number(s), (e) a list of factory-installed equipment, including the manufacturer's name and the model designation of each appliance, (f) a reference to the Roof Load Zone and Wind Zone Load to which the home was designed, (h) and the name of the agency that approved the design.
Both the label (tags) and data plate have been removed from my home. I can't sell/refinance my home without the HUD Label. Where can I get this information?
If the information cannot be located on or within the home, the requester should obtain previous financing paperwork for the home where this information may have been previously required and documented by a lending institution. HUD, through its contractor IBTS, might be able to provide a letter certifying the specific HUD labels (tags) that were attached to the home.
I'm assisting a homeowner/homebuyer with selling/purchasing a manufactured home and have submitted a request to HUD. How long does it take before I receive a response? All questions regarding expediting label verification requests should be addressed to HUD's contractor, IBTS.
My Data Plate is missing. How do I get a replacement copy?
You may be able to obtain the data plate by contacting the In-Plant Primary Inspection Agency (IPIA) and the manufacturer. The IPIA is a third party inspection agency that works in conjunction with the Department to inspect manufactured homes during the manufacturing process to ensure that the manufacturer meets the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. To obtain a list of inspection agencies, visit here: https://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/ramh/mhs/mhsid.cfm
I was told I need the Serial or VIN number in order to sell or refinance my home. Where can I find this information?
In some states, the Serial number and VIN number may be one and the same. Section 3280.6 of the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards states, "(a) A manufactured home serial number which will identify the manufacturer and the state in which the manufactured home is manufactured must be stamped into the foremost cross member. Letters and numbers must be 3/8-inch minimum in height. Numbers must not be stamped into hitch assembly or drawbar."
If the home is a multiwide unit, the serial number will contain the letters A/B for a double-wide unit or A/B/C for a triple-wide unit.
I was told that the HUD Tag (Label) numbers have to be in sequential order. Is that true?
No. The Certification labels (HUD tags) can be in sequential order but they may not be. The HUD labels are identified by a three-letter prefix followed by six numbers (i.e. RAD 000001).
For additional assistance, contact HUD's Office of Manufactured Housing Programs at (202) 708-6423.