Individuals or families looking for cost-effective and time-efficient alternatives to traditional residential construction can choose between two general categories of prefabricated homes: manufactured homes and modular homes.
A prefabricated home is a specific type of prefabricated building intended for residential dwellings. When compared to traditional on-site construction, prefabs are manufactured off-site and assembled or installed on-site. These notable characteristics provide prefabricated homes key advantages that revolve around cost savings and reduce construction time.
Prefabs are essentially factory-made. Choosing prefabs over on-site construction requires understanding the difference between manufactured homes and modular homes
Difference Between Manufactured Homes and Modular Homes
Under the United States standards, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines and supervises the construction of manufactured houses while the International Residential Code defines modular houses and stated and regional building standards oversees their regulation
The following is the general difference between the two:
• Manufactured Homes: These are prefabricated structures representing entire dwelling units. They are built on a permanently attached chassis and transported to the building site for installation. Once transported and installed, as well as after some furnishing, individuals and families can readily move in.
• Modular Homes: On the other hand, these are prefabricated building structures representing individual components or sections of houses built in factories. Examples include wall panels and interior dividers. They are transported in parts or modules and assembled on the building site.
Pros and Cons of Manufactured Homes and Modular Homes
Understanding further the difference between manufactured and modular homes might require appreciating and acknowledging their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Manufactured Homes
• Pros: There are less costly to manufacture than site-built homes. They can be delivered to the building site within days and they do not take a lot of time to be installed. Furthermore, most models can be readily moved to another building site should owners wish to relocate their residence.
• Cons: A notable downside is that they might have higher upfront costs than on-site construction because of fewer financing options than site-built or modular configurations. Furthermore, when compared to modular houses, they are typically smaller, have limited customization and expansion options, are less durable or sturdy, and have lower energy efficiency. Some jurisdictions might prevent owners from moving and placing their manufactured houses on specific sites or zones.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Modular Homes
• Pros: Similar to manufactured houses, they are less costly than site-built homes. However, when compared to these manufactured houses, the key advantages of modular houses include having larger spaces and better options for customization and expansion, being more durable, and having a higher energy efficiency. Financial or lending institutions also place them under the same category as site-built homes, thus providing owners with financing options.
• Cons: They are not movable, unlike manufactured houses. Assembling them on building sites requires meeting the same local building codes as site-built homes. Construction time can also run for 8 to 14 weeks. Furthermore, customization and expansion options are limited when compared to traditional on-site construction.
Difference Between Manufactured Homes and Mobile Homes in the U.S.
Some manufacturers, contractors, and individuals tend to use the words “manufactured” and “mobile” interchangeably. There is some degree of acceptability to these. Mobile houses such as trailer homes are fundamentally manufactured houses.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development, factory-built homes produced and used before 15 June 1976 are considered as mobile homes while those built and installed after this date are called manufactured homes.
It is also important to note that specific trailer homes, as well as tiny homes with wheels, are licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles because of their transportability and the manner owners use them. Hence, they must be built based on the code set forth by the Department of Motor Vehicles and pass inspection for licensing.
Overview of Prefabricated Housing Standards in Other Countries
There is an emerging demand for prefabricated houses in the European Union. However, there are no standards encompassing all of E.U. and regulations transpire at the national level. General directives from the European Union and local building codes do not readily and directly affect the production, sales, consumption, and installation of manufactured and modular houses.
It is interesting to note that in Australia, manufactured houses are commonly referred to as prefabricated homes, transportable homes, or relocatable homes. There are manufactured home parks wherein individuals or families can rent lot areas and place their transportable houses.