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Mobile/Manufactured/Modular Home Inspection

An inspection of a mobile or manufactured home shares similarities with standard home inspections but also includes unique considerations. These factory-built residences utilize distinct materials and construction techniques, making them more susceptible to certain types of damage. Additionally, the inspection process can be more challenging because some of the home's systems may be hidden or not readily accessible.

Mobile/Manufactured/Modular Homes Have Some Major Differences

Some people will use “mobile home” or "trailer" to refer to modern manufactured homes. However, mobile homes and manufactured homes were distinguished from one another in 1974 with the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act. This act was followed in 1976 by the HUD Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards — usually called the HUD code — which set federal construction standards for manufactured homes in areas like:

The home’s design.

Home body and frame requirements.

Thermal protection

Plumbing and electrical systems

Fire safety.

And energy efficiency

Before 1976, mobile homes were mass produced because of the high demand for affordable, moveable housing after World War II, but there wasn’t a lot of oversight when it came to the building standards and materials.

The structure of these early mobile homes looked a lot like a camper or trailer, with an exposed trailer coupler and wheels to make the home movable. The home itself was generally built on steel I-beams that ran from end-to-end, and could be set up on concrete blocks, wooden blocks, metal stands or a concrete foundation at the desired location.

And after the HUD Code was created in the 1970s, the Housing Act of 1980 later mandated the term “manufactured” be used in place of “mobile” in all federal laws and literature that referenced homes built after 1976. These new codes and standards then quickly gave rise to the beautiful, quality manufactured homes that are being built today.

What is a Manufactured Home?

Modern manufactured homes are extremely different from mobile homes built prior to 1976, both in terms of construction and design. Manufactured homes are constructed using quality materials inside climate-controlled building facilities and according to the HUD Code. They also typically come in three sizes — single, double and triple section — and can range from under 1,000 sq. ft. to over 2,000.

When it comes to comparing manufactured and modular homes, another factor that can set them apart is the type of foundation typically used for each. If your manufactured home has a pier and beam foundation, it can usually be relocated by a specialized contractor. Depending on factors like where the home will be located, manufactured homes can also be placed on a permanent foundation, crawl space or basement.

What is a Modular Home?

Like manufactured homes, modular homes are constructed inside building facilities and then transported to the home site. The main difference between manufactured and modular homes is that manufactured homes are built to the national HUD code, while modular homes are built to all applicable state and local building codes. This is similar to the way traditional site-built homes are constructed.

The codes and standards a modular home is built to can vary based on the state as well as the county, city, or township the home will be located in. For example, some states, like North and South Carolina, have standards about the appearance of a modular home that regulate the minimum roof pitch, overhang length and foundation wall requirements. Some areas may also require modular homes to be permanently installed at the home site without a steel frame, while others allow on-frame foundations and lower pitch roofs.

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