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What's In A Name?

Post card from another era of mobile home marketing.

Post card from another era of mobile home marketing.

It’s a mobile home! No, it’s manufactured! Wait, is it modular?

Mobile, manufactured, and modular tend to be used interchangeably when talking about pre-fabricated houses (that is to say, homes that are built off-site in a factory and then transported and set on their location). And two of them actually can be used to describe the same sort of house, while the third term is different.

Would you like to hazard a guess at which two are the same?

If you said “mobile and manufactured,” you are correct. Mobile home is the term used pre-1976 to describe a home built in a factory that could be set but with the possibility of somewhat easily being moved at a later time. As their popularity increased (they are an incredibly affordable way for someone to own their own home), the Department of Housing and Urban Development updated their regulations regarding the building of these homes to ensure quality and safety. The name of these homes was changed to “manufactured” in order to delineate homes that had been built according to the new code set forth by HUD. Pre-1976 styles of this home are still referred to as “mobile.” 

Manufactured homes are built in a factory – now with stricter codes and regulations to ensure their safety and durability – and then transported to their set location. They are built as one piece, and while they can be set on a basement, more often they are placed on a solid foundation, metal piers, or wooden pillars. These days, manufactured homes tend not to be moved frequently but there are special contractors who can pick them up and place them elsewhere.

So then what is modular?

Modular homes are also built off-site in a factory. Yet modular homes are built in multiple pieces, meaning the range of customization options is (almost) endless. Once transported to their designated site, the pieces are set next to and layered on top of each other to create the full home. After all the pieces are joined, modular homes often end up looking exactly like stick-built houses. The only true indicator that you are in a modular home one of the walls in the house is extra thick. Depending on the floor plan, it might take some sleuthing to find!

The bottom line is this: mobile and manufactured homes are, in effect, vehicles, while modular homes are, truly, HOUSES. This distinction means that a mobile/manufactured home need not meet the same strict regulatory, code, and performance standards of structural homes, but a modular home does – and then some.  In the case of BrightBuilt Home’s High Performance wall assembly, our homes – built in modules - are particularly robust and high quality homes. They are built in a protected environment so they arrive to the site weather-tight and ready to endure all the wind, rain, freezing, scorching, and raw elements that the environment can dish out.

First floor modules of a modular-built BrightBuilt Home coming together on set day. Two second-floor modules were set above these, for a completed 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath, 2900 square foot home.

First floor modules of a modular-built BrightBuilt Home coming together on set day. Two second-floor modules were set above these, for a completed 4 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath, 2900 square foot home.