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Building A Manufactured Home: A Closer Look At How Manufactured Homes Are Built

June 08, 2023 4-minute read

Author: Jamie Johnson


Home prices have gone up dramatically over the last few years. If you want a more affordable option, building a manufactured home could be a good alternative. Though there’s sometimes a negative stigma associated with manufactured homes, they are just as well-constructed as on-site homes. This article will explain what a manufactured home is, and how the construction process works.

What Is A Manufactured Home?

A manufactured home is a type of prefabricated house that is constructed and assembled in a manufacturing plant. Once it’s finished, it’s transported in one or more sections and affixed on a rectangular chassis.

Manufactured houses are sometimes referred to as mobile homes, but they aren’t the same thing thanks to the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act of 1974. At the time, mobile homes were mass produced and there was very little oversight in terms of the quality of the materials and building standards.

So first-time home buyers could find an affordable mobile home, but the lack of oversight meant you didn’t really know what you were getting. In 1976, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) code was established, setting federal construction standards for all manufactured houses.

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How Are Manufactured Homes Built?

Manufactured homes and prefab homes are constructed in a factory and then moved to the home site. Once they arrive at their destinations, they’re usually not moved again.

Manufactured homes are often confused with modular homes but there are significant differences between the two. According to the HUD, manufactured homes are required to be constructed on a permanent chassis. In comparison, modular homes are constructed according to state, local or regional building codes.

Manufactured houses must be built according to federal construction codes from HUD. The exact time it takes to build a manufactured home depends on the size of the home, but it usually takes a few months to complete.

An Overview Of A Manufactured Home Construction Timeline

If you’re considering a manufactured home, it’s a good idea to understand what the building process is like first. Here’s an overview of what you can expect.

1. Prepare Site

The first step is to choose a location and prepare the land for the manufactured home. If you’re building the home on undeveloped land, any rocks and debris will need to be cleared away. You should also make sure the land boundaries are clearly marked.

You also need to ensure the site is level and build access to utilities before installing the foundation. If it isn’t, you may need to hire a contractor to grade the area. Once this has been done, you’re ready to install the foundation.

2. Secure Permits

Before you begin building a manufactured home, you should secure any necessary building permits you’ll need. It’s also a good idea to research zoning laws for that area. The exact requirements will vary depending on your state and local regulations. It can take anywhere from 6 – 9 weeks to receive everything.

3. Design The Home

Manufactured homes come with preset designs you can choose from or you can customize the home exactly how you want it. During the design stage, you’ll work with the manufacturers to choose the floor plan and any upgrades you want.

For instance, you can add hardwood floors or upgraded cabinets. You can also add fans and extra insulation to improve the airflow and make the home more comfortable.

4. Manufacturing Begins

Once the manufacturing process begins, the materials and pieces are constructed inside a factory or warehouse. The foundation, floors, wall and roof are built and screwed together. The electrical wires, plumbing lines and installation are added during this stage as well.

5. Final Factory Touches

During the final stages of the manufacturing process, the drywall, window installations and siding are installed. The house will also be painted.

6. Inspections

During the home inspection, third-party inspectors will verify that the house meets all manufactured housing and building codes set by HUD. Once the home passes the inspection, it will receive a certification seal.

7. Delivery And Installation

Next, the manufactured home is delivered to the final site and installed. The home will be securely attached to ground anchors and reinforced with steel straps. This prevents it from shifting due to storms or strong wind.

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How Much Does It Cost To Build A Manufactured Home?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average manufactured home costs $128,000. Of course, the exact price you pay will depend on the state you live in, the cost of the land, the size of the home and any customizations you add.

If you choose to live in a community instead of buying land, you my pay lot rent to a landlord. Communities often provide amenities you won’t get by buying land on your own. For instance, some may provide a swimming pool, tennis courts and walking trails.

Should You Build A Manufactured Home?

Manufactured homes tend to be much more affordable than traditional site-built homes. And when properly installed, they last just as long as regular houses built on a construction site. And they’re much more versatile — they can be moved to another location in the future, though the process may be complicated.

However, there’s still a lingering stigma associated with manufactured homes. And you can’t take out a traditional mortgage to build one. Instead, you may need to take out a construction loan. A manufactured home also may not be the best choice if you want to build equity.

The Bottom Line

Manufactured homes are an option for those looking for affordable ways to build a home. They’re well-constructed and the process is usually complete within about 4 months.

If you’re thinking of moving into a current mobile home instead of building one, learn more about mobile home financing. Rocket Mortgage® may be able to help you find the right loan for your manufactured home purchase.

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Jamie Johnson

Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about a variety of personal finance topics, including loans, building credit, and paying down debt. She currently writes for clients like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Insider, and Bankrate.