Mobile Homes, Manufactured Homes, and Trailers – Oh My!
When it comes to the various types of homes located in mobile home parks or on private lots, you may hear various terms including mobile home, manufactured, home, or trailer. While all of these terms are generally applicable and understood by many people, there are some important differences. Despite these differences, these terms are used interchangeable, and are understood by many homeowners and tenants.
A mobile home is a home built on a frame with wheels that was made in a factory with the intent to be transported to a location where it would be setup for long-term living. In the early days, the construction of these homes was unregulated, and anybody with hand tools and a barn in which to build one could create a mobile home and call themselves a “manufacturer.” Due to the unregulated nature of the industry at the time, the quality of the homes varied from manufacturer to manufacturer. In 1974 The National Mobile home Construction and Safety Act was passed by Congress, which led to a set of safety standards being implemented in 1976. These standards are called the HUD Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, or in industry jargon, the “HUD Code.”
The HUD Code created a set of standards related to the home design including standards for heating, electrical, and plumbing systems, fire and electrical safety standards, and other features of the home. Any new home built after this date was stamped with an emblem that is permanently affixed to the home. Basically, a mobile home is a home that was built prior to the HUD Code and may not have a HUD emblem. Usually the older mobile homes were smaller with some being only 10 or 12 feet wide unlike today’s homes.
A manufactured home is also a home built on a frame and wheels that is intended to be transported to its location, however, the main difference from a mobile home is that the manufactured home meets the HUD Code. It is a more modern home built after 1976 and has the safety and design characteristics that were required.
Modern manufactured homes may have vinyl siding, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, asphalt shingles, and may look similar to homes that were constructed onsite. It is common for a singlewide manufactured home to be 14 feet wide by up to 80 feet long, but wider sizes are also available. Also, sectional homes may have 2 or 3 different sections that are connected side-by-side to make a doublewide or triple wide home.
Some people refer to these homes as trailers, and technically they are correct. The homes were built on frames and wheels, and can be transported. In fact, some mobile homes from the 1960s and 1970s have tail lights just like a car would. However, unlike small recreational vehicle trailers that are designed to be pulled by a car or small truck, mobile homes are too large to tow without using special equipment. Specialty home moving contractors have large trucks, special licenses, and typically move a mobile home or manufactured home to a single location where it will be permanently stationed. In the case of a doublewide or triplewide, once the sections have been connected, it cannot be moved unless it is taken apart at considerable expense.