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Is it Manufactured, Modular or What?

March 10, 2015

Every so often, we arrive to inspect a house and immediately identify it as a Manufactured or Modular home.  It makes a difference and you need to know whether your potential new house is a "stick built" house constructed on-site, or a factory built Manufactured or Modular home.

A manufactured home is entirely factory built and arrives in one or two sections on wheels and a steel chasssis.  The wheels are commonly removed and the chassis is placed upon some form of foundation or structure.  Financing for a manufactured home is usually handled differently than a conventional home.

A modular home is also factory built, usually in sections and is shipped to the site and assembled on-site.  It too, can be placed on a traditional cement block or poured concrete foundation, with a basement or crawlspace beneath.

The key is to be able to tell the difference.

Identification Keys for Factory Built Homes

Mobile Home – A mobile home was built prior to July 1, 1976. It is often constructed with a metal roof and metal siding although other siding and roofing materials may have been substituted in the years since construction.

Manufactured Home – A manufactured home is built to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards administered by HUD. A manufactured home may be built in one or more sections and will always have three distinctive components – a red label (may be faded) on each home section and a steel chassis under each home section. 

Wheels and axles are connected to the chassis for transportation. The steel chassis may not be removed from the home. However, some manufacturers utilize a truss floor system for homes going on basements in which the steel chassis is embedded inside the truss system. The third element is a data plate affixed inside the home on or near the main electrical breaker box and is printed on paper or foil stock 8 ½” x 11” to 8 ½” x 14” in size. This document will verify the following: Manufacturer’s Name, Trade/Model Name, Year of Manufacture, Serial Number, HUD Construction Code Label, and HUD Construction Zones.

Modular Home – A modular home in Wisconsin is built to the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code - UDC (the state’s uniform code for one- and two-family dwellings). A modular home is generally built in two or more home sections and may be a one- or two- story home. A modular home is generally transported to the home site on a reusable carrier which has its own wheels and axles. The floor framing/joists are common to a traditional house. It will have a seal bearing an emblem resembling the State of Wisconsin. A Wisconsin modular home will also have a data plate which will disclose the information below. It’s location in the home is generally under the sink, in a bedroom closet or near the electrical panel.

1. Manufacturer’s name and address;
2. Date of manufacture;
3. Serial number of unit;
4. Model designation;
5. Identification of type of gas required for appliances and directions for water and drain
6. Identification of date of the codes or standards complied with;
7. State insignia number;
8. Design loads;
9. Special conditions or limitations of unit;
10. Electrical ratings; instructions and warnings on voltage, phase, size and connections of
units and grounding requirements.
Conformity to the one- and two-family dwelling code and display of the state insignia also means the modular home is deemed to comply
with all local building requirements except those related to zoning and siting. 

The terms are confusing and often misused.  Before you make that Offer to Purchase, ensure that you are clear as to which type of house you are entering into contract on.  Feel free to give us a call for asssistance.

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