The Truth About Common Manufactured Home Misconceptions
The Truth About Common Manufactured Home Misconceptions
Buying a manufactured home can be one of the wisest and safest investments you can make. Today’s manufactured homes offer the best cost, luxury, spaciousness and energy efficiency available in affordable housing in Michigan.
No matter what stage of life you’re at, buying a manufactured home is a smart idea. Whether you’re comparing manufactured homes vs. apartments as a starter place to live, or if you’re downsizing from a large site-built home, you’ll find the cost of a manufactured home to be lower than conventional housing and many times less than what you’d pay for rent.
Manufactured homes are increasing in popularity for many reasons, including their affordability, flexibility in design, options to customize and select luxurious amenities, energy-efficiency, safety, quality construction and rigorous inspections in the manufacturing process. The affordable cost of a manufactured home is made easier by the ability to finance your home and be assured that it will retain its value or even appreciate.
Regardless of the growing popularity of manufactured homes, many people still hold on to misconceptions about what is a manufactured home. These preconceived ideas or myths about manufactured homes have led people away from properly considering buying a manufactured home when searching for affordable housing in Michigan.
To help you make an informed decision as to whether a manufactured home is the right choice for your housing needs, here is the truth about common manufactured home misconceptions.
A Manufactured Home Is Not a Mobile Home
There was a day when homes built in a factory and delivered to their dwelling site were called “mobile” homes or even “trailers.” Manufacturing a home in a factory setting has always proven to be superior in many ways to site-built homes, especially in the efficiency of construction materials and assembly labor.
Unfortunately, in the early years of factory-building homes, some construction practices and materials selection led to shoddy structures which performed poorly against the elements and multiple moves.
Truly “mobile” homes were designed to be just that: mobile or towed as “trailers.” Units built in the 1950s and 1960s were smaller and meant to be transported along roads between multiple locations, usually by workers who relocated from site to site as their employment varied. This low-cost housing suited mobile workers well and, as time progressed, the mobile home industry evolved and offered larger units with more choices in amenities.
Mobile homes grew in size from 10 feet wide, to 12 feet wide and finally to 14 feet, which is the maximum width than can be practically moved on the nation’s highways. Portable design and relatively lightweight confined the manufacturing of mobile structures to certain manufacturing standards, which were loosely regulated for structural, safety and energy efficiency codes which site-built homes needed to adhere to.
Another factor was changing the factory-built home industry. More and more homes that were manufactured in a climate-controlled and assembly line-efficient factory setting were no longer to be as mobile as those constructed in the early years. Many factory-built homes were now being purchased, and making a one-time move from the factory to a permanent site where they were being installed on a foundation, serviced and then left in place as a permanent dwelling.
The evolution of factory-built housing from being regularly mobile to permanently installed led to an entire restructuring of the manufactured home industry. Because these once loosely regulated and highly mobile structures were now competing and intermingling with site-built conventional homes, the federal government responded to state and local regulatory bodies by developing a building code that was specific to manufactured homes.
This ensured that homes leaving a factory and destined to be installed on a permanent site were built and inspected to high standards as a protection to the consumer and to bring uniformity as well as credibility to the manufactured home industry.
The result was the 1976 adoption of a building code for manufactured homes set by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is known in the industry as the “HUD Code.” The code strictly addresses the performance of factory manufactured homes in their structure quality, energy efficiency and safety to fire, electrical and elemental hazards.
With the HUD Code came a name change for homes built in a factory. “Mobile” was dropped and replaced by the more acceptable and fitting term “manufactured home.” After 1976, all homes built in a factory and certified by the HUD Code are properly called “manufactured homes,” and the term “mobile” now loosely belongs to the older, outdated units, as well as to true “trailers,” which are towed as recreational dwellings.
The other main factor which designates a manufactured home is that they are all built on a steel chassis which accommodates safe transport from the factory to the installation site. Here, the wheels and towing tongue are removed and the manufactured home is placed on a foundation to remain in place indefinitely.
Today’s manufactured homes are quality-built structures that are government- and third-party-inspected. They are designed and intended to be mobile-only from the factory to their final site, whether that’s the owner’s land or within a manufactured home community like HomeFirst has developed in southeast Michigan.
Manufactured Homes Are More Affordable Than Site-Built Homes
There is no debate about manufactured homes being more affordable than site-built homes. On the average, manufactured homes cost between 10 to 30 percent less than equivalent square-foot homes that are “stick-built” on an existing foundation.
There are three primary reasons for this:
- Efficient Use of Labor: Homes built in a factory make much more efficient use of labor. The assembly line process capitalizes on each worker being proficient in their task, having advanced tools at their disposal and working in a climate-controlled environment. Being out of the heat, rain, ice and snow gives a worker a safer and far more productive situation to cut and fit home components. A similar 2,500 square-foot home that would take six months to build on a site may take two months in a factory setting. These huge time savings are passed on in affordability to the homeowner.
- Efficient Use of Materials: Manufactured home builders make better use of materials than site builders. The repetitive tasks in factory situations give the designers and builders much better control over the size and quantity of materials needed to construct the home. The materials are pre-ordered and assembled with very little waste and the factory setting allows for reusing excess products and/or effective recycling. The savings from wasting materials contributes to affordability.
- Economic Pricing of Materials: Bulk purchasing of materials is possible for manufactured home plants. The economies of scale are a major advantage in factory situations where the builders of manufactured homes can purchase large quantities of material such as lumber, fasteners, fixtures and finishing products at discount prices and under favorable market and financing terms. Again, these savings from bulk purchases are favorable to the purchaser of a manufactured home.
Manufactured Home Are Not Just for Low-Income Families
Another unfortunate misconception about manufactured homes is that they are only suitable for low-income families. This myth has contributed to the perception of only “poor people live in mobile homes.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Manufactured homes today offer many of the same customization and luxury features that site-built homes do, and they offer this at lower cost than traditional homes. The value of affordability linked to quality construction, energy efficiency and spacious luxury is well-recognized by owners of manufactured homes.
Manufactured homes appear on many owner-held sites in highly-desired areas, as well as in many of the elaborate communities designated solely for manufactured homes. These communities, like the ones developed by HomeFirst in southeast Michigan, offer exclusive amenities such as community clubhouses, recreational areas and full-service support like landscaping and maintenance.
The “trailer park” stereotype simply does not apply to today’s manufactured homes.
Manufactured Homes Are Flexible in Size and Design
As with site-built homes, manufactured homes are available in a wide range of sizes, floor layouts and exterior facades. Customization of features like kitchens, baths, fireplaces, home entertainment centers and upgrades to energy-efficient appliances are common to the manufactured home industry.
Sizes of manufactured homes range from slightly above the currently trendy “tiny homes,” at 600 square feet, all the way up to 2,500 square feet. Manufactured home producers also offer additions to the homes such as porches, decks and detached outbuildings like garages and storage sheds.
Be sure to ask what’s available in design and size flexibility when shopping for a mobile home. The misconception that size and design are restricted is simply wrong.
Manufactured Homes Are Quality-Built
There’s a serious misconception that homes built on an assembly line and in a controlled factory setting are inferior in quality to those custom-built on a single-family lot.
On the contrary: the factory setting allows quality control to exceed what can be achieved on a conventional, outdoor site. The materials used in a manufactured home are stored in dry and secure facilities and are assembled with precision tools by expert installers.
Adherence to the HUD Code and the mandatory sign-off by third-party inspectors ensures that quality of construction is maintained throughout the process. This extends right from the chassis to the structure, and from the mechanical systems to the finishing.
Just as you expect quality in building an airliner or a ship, you can expect the same attention to detail being better in a manufactured home factory setting.
Manufactured Homes Are Carefully Inspected
Furthering the myth that manufactured homes are of substandard quality comes the failure to realize just how tightly regulated and inspected the manufactured home industry is.
The Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards as set out by the HUD Code mandates that all manufactured homes comply with certain design, durability, energy efficiency, fire resistance, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, wiring and transportation systems.
All manufactured homes receive a HUD certification label before they can legally be removed from the factory. In addition to the in-house quality control checks that each step of the construction process follows, federal law requires that third-party certified inspectors sign-off on the various stages of construction.
The inspection process doesn’t just stop when the manufactured home leaves the factory. The installation of a manufactured home must also be subject to the same servicing inspections that site-built homes do. These include water and sewer hook-up, gas line attachment, electrical connection and exterior safety features like guards and railings.
It could be argued that manufactured homes undergo more thorough inspections than homes custom-built on a specific site.
Safety Is Built Into Manufactured Homes
Forget the myth that trailer parks attract tornadoes. Conventionally built homes are equally damaged or destroyed by natural events, as are manufactured homes, which are equally safe, or perhaps even safer.
Safety in manufactured home construction isn’t limited to the durability of the building structure. By code, manufactured homes exceed many structural aspects required in homebuilding, given the fact that they’re designed to be transported by road before reaching their final destination. Once at the site, manufactured homes must be attached to their foundation within the same wind load and seismic restrictions that the local area prescribes for site-built homes.
Safety extends to other areas of manufactured home design and construction, too. HUD and other codes require manufactured homes to meet strict safety controls in their electrical, gas, plumbing and air quality systems. Fire separation, control and suppression are tightly regulated in manufactures, as well as permitting what combustible materials are allowed or disallowed.
The health and safety of occupants are taken seriously by the manufactured home industry. That extends beyond interior safety from fire and accident exposure, and considers what nature can throw at a manufactured home once installed on its site.
Manufactured Homes Are Energy-Efficient
Again, manufactured homes meet and often exceed the energy efficiency of even the best site-built homes.
The factory setting for building the manufactured home components allows for a very tight fit and finish of the home’s building envelope that includes the floor, wall and roof assemblies, where most of the home’s air leakage occurs.
Incidental air leakage amounts to most of a home’s energy loss, whether it’s warm air escaping in cold climates or air-conditioned leakage in hot locations. Installing air and vapor barriers in a factory setting are far more precise than achieving the same results in an on-site construction out in the elements.
Thermal loss and gain are also controlled in a manufactured home by using uniformly installed insulation, as well as high-performance windows with triple panes, low-emissivity and inert gas filling. Heating and cooling systems in manufactured homes provide energy efficiency, as well as offering Energy Star appliances.
Any notion that manufactured homes are inferior in energy efficiency is misguided.
Manufactured Homes Hold Their Value
Once installed on their site, most manufactured homes are indistinguishable from their site-built counterparts. Also indistinguishable are the factors that determine any home’s appreciation or depreciation in value. Universally, the factors that determine fair market value are:
- Local market conditions
- Size and layout
- Level of maintenance
Given these factors being equal, a manufactured home holds its value equally with a site-built home and can be purchased more affordably.
Financing Is Readily Available for Manufactured Homes
Manufactured homes are well-accepted by lenders as being quality homes that retain their value. Accordingly, lending institutes have specific packages that are suitable to financing manufactured homes.
The primary difference in how a manufactured home is financed depends on how it’s installed on the site. Manufactured homes that are set on a foundation on owner-held land are subject to conventional mortgages, while homes set in most communities are financed through more personal types of loans.
The particular type of financing that suits your need is best left to discuss with a professional. That could be a lending institute, a manufactured home dealer or the representative of a manufactured home community.
HomeFirst Certified Communities is a collection of manufactured home communities in Michigan, providing a pleasurable and affordable lifestyle for individuals, families and retirees alike. There are 15 HomeFirst communities in these cities:
- Flat Rock
- Mt. Clemens
- New Haven
- South Lyon
- Whitmore Lake
If you’re interested in the total comfort, affordability and flexibility of living in a manufactured home, apply today for pre-qualification in financing, or schedule a visit to one of our HomeFirst manufactured home communities.