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What is The Difference Between Manufactured, Mobile and Modular Homes?

Know very specific differences between and manufactured homes and modular homes.

Do you know the difference between Manufactured and Modular homes? What about Mobile homes? To clear up the common misconceptions about these types of homes, Delaware Real Estate Broker, Kathy Sperl-Bell invites Bill Bell to explain the differences between Manufactured, Modular and Mobile homes.

Video Transcript:

For today's Ask The Broker question, we're going to do things a little bit differently. The question we're going to address is what's the difference between a manufactured home, a mobile home, and a modular home?

A lot of people are confused and may think they all are the same thing, so I decided we're going to talk to the expert. My husband Bill Bell, also my business partner, has a background as a contractor, and we're going to invite Bill in to talk about some of these issues.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:Welcome! This is Bill Bell, my husband, and business partner, and Bill, the questions that we're talking about today have to do with what's the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

Bill Bell: Well, I get that question a lot, and there's a lot of confusion and misconception about the terms. People misuse the terms, but basically, the difference between manufactured homes and modular, manufactured homes are built to a HUD national building code. They are delivered to the site with a steel frame that is affixed and part of the structure and stays with the home.

Modular construction, a little bit different. It is built to whatever local building codes are in place where you're putting the house. It's delivered to the site on a trailer that it is removed from and set onto a permanent foundation.

Kathy Sperl-Bell: But a lot times, we say, "It's never been on wheels," a modular home.

Bill Bell: Exactly, and a modular home has technically never been on wheels, and it's all to do with the specific detail of the steel frame.

Kathy Sperl-Bell: Right. What about manufactured homes and mobile homes? We see those terms used interchangeably.

Bill Bell: Yes, we do, and a lot of people confuse what they are. The differences are somewhat technical but important. So back in the day, we called them trailers, single-wides, mobile homes, and as the industry grew up, and as they became more popular as a cost-efficient method of construction, the federal government got involved, created a national building code.

And in 1976, the terminology had been switched to manufactured homes, so that really refers to all homes built after 1976, and it's primarily because of so many standard safety features built into them.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:So that's why we say when people are looking at manufactured homes, it's important to check the date when they were built.

Bill Bell: Exactly. Certain things happen, and looking at the date that home was built will tell you whether or not it's had those inspections and those safety features added.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:Now, we go to the next level. What's the difference between a modular home, or what a lot of people call stick-built homes, that are built on site?

Bill Bell: Exactly, and there is still a lot of misconception about what this is too. Modular construction is applying the Henry Ford model of assembly lining to the building of houses. Just like when he was building cars, he created this thing, the assembly line, and it was a way to create a better-quality product in a shorter time frame for less money.

So the primary difference between the on-site stick-built home and the off-site stick-built home or modular home is one is built in a factory in a controlled environment, pulled down an assembly line and then delivered and craned onto its permanent foundation.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:Can't you actually say it could be better quality because you have the same people doing the same process on a daily basis?

Bill Bell: Well, in many ways, it is much better quality, mostly because none of the building process takes place out in the weather. The one deficiency, which is being overcome greatly today by innovation with building products and engineering is that they all have to be built in sections that are physically small enough to take down a road.

Kathy Sperl-Bell:Right.

Bill Bell: Therefore, you do run into some design features that may not work with a modular home that will work with site-built homes.

Kathy Sperl-Bell: So obviously, we've only been able to touch on the highlights in this video. There's a lot more detail that we could go into, but if you have any questions, just give us a call, 302-424-1890 or email us at

Looking for more guidance about choosing the right community and home type for you? The agents at Active Adults Realty are ready to help you find a place you love. Call us at 302-424-1890 for a consultation and also download our free Buyer's Guide here.

Have a question you want to be featured in our Ask The Broker series? Submit your questions directly by visiting or you can email Kathy at

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