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What Are Site Built Homes?

  • They are constructed entirely at the building site.
  • They conform to all state, local or regional codes where the house is located.
  • Often called ‘stick-built’ houses.
  • A well-built, cared for site-built home generally increases in value over time, although its location plays a key role in value.

What Are Modular Homes?

  • Modular homes are built in sections at a factory.
  • Modular homes are built to conform to all state, local or regional building codes at their destinations.
  • Sections are transported to the building site on truck beds, then joined together by local contractors.
  • Local building inspectors check to make sure a modular home’s structure meets requirements and that all finish work is done properly.
  • Modular homes are sometimes less expensive per square foot than site built houses.
  • A well-built modular home should have the same longevity as its site-built counterpart, increasing in value over time.

What Are Manufactured Homes?

  • Formerly referred to as mobile homes or trailers, but with many more style options than in the past.
  • Manufactured houses are built in a factory.
  • They conform to a Federal building code, called the HUD code, rather than to building codes at their destinations.
  • Manufactured homes are built on a non-removable steel chassis.
  • Sections are transported to the building site on their own wheels.
  • Multi-part manufactured units are joined at their destination.
  • Segments are not always placed on a permanent foundation, making them more difficult to re-finance.
  • Building inspectors check the work done locally (electric hook up, etc.) but are not required to approve the structure.
  • Manufactured housing is generally less expensive than site built and modular homes.
  • Manufactured homes sometimes decrease in value over time.

What Do the Differences Mean to You?

Restrictive Covenants and Deed Restrictions

Communities generally have no restrictions against traditional, site built homes.
Many housing developments do set minimum size requirements and stipulate you must build a house that conforms to published:

Restrictive covenants approval by an architectural review committee.

Most developments allow modular homes. Some do not, but in those cases the restrictions seem to have been imposed because of an ongoing confusion about the differences between modular homes and manufactured homes.

Restrictive covenants and deed restrictions often exclude manufactured homes.
Investigate the deed restrictions thoroughly before purchasing land for any type of new home.

Safety: Proponents of modular homes have long maintained that the building system produces structures that are far stronger than site-built housing. For instance, the modular sections are well built to withstand the stresses of highway travel, containing up to 30% more building materials than a comparable site-built home. To withstand the stress of transportation and being lifted by a crane, drywall is often both glued and screwed to wall studs and triple-headers are used over window openings and around stairwells.

Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confirmed that modular home withstood a hurricane far better than site-built housing. In its report “Building Performance: Hurricane Andrew in Florida,” assessment teams from FEMA concluded that modular homes withstood the 131-155 mph winds of Category 4 storm in August 1992 far batter than site-built housing.

“Overall, relatively minimal structural damage was noted in modular housing developments. The module-to-module combination of units appears to have provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing. This was evident in both the transverse and longitudinal directions of the modular buildings,” cites the report. (Get your free copy by calling 800-480-2520, publication number FIA-22, item 3-0180)