How Can I Tell The Difference Between a Modular Home And a Manufactured Home?

Manufactured homes and modular homes are two different types of housing options that provide a home for families at a fraction of the price of a site-built home.

Manufactured homes, or mobile homes, are entirely built in a factory and transported to their location for installation on site.

Modular homes are designed and constructed off-site into two to four larger sections of the home and then delivered to their final destination where they can be assembled quickly on-site.

They both fall into the category of prefabricated homes.

Learn more about the various ways you can tell the difference between a modular and sectional home below!


Modular homes are typically more expensive than manufactured homes due to the higher standards and specifications they must meet.

Manufactured homes are usually significantly cheaper than modular homes because they’re easier and less costly to manufacture.

However, manufactured homes tend to depreciate in value over time, so this long-term expense should be factored into the overall cost of the home.

By the way, click here to learn how to tell if a home is modular.

The costs of both types of prefabricated homes can be broken down into the following expenses:


Modulars come in a smaller variety of sizes, but manufactured units can be customized for your specific needs.

Manufactured homes are larger overall on average though the cost difference is significant when you compare them side by side.

Both are easy to add additions to or remodel if you are working with a skilled contractor.

Resale Value

Modular homes tend to have a better resale value than manufactured homes, according to the HUD building code of manufactured homes.

Modular homes are similar to an on-site house that someone builds on private property. This means that they qualify for mortgage financing through a bank.

Lenders may treat your manufactured home as a different property class than a modular or site-built home.

They are occasionally hesitant to provide funds for manufactured homes since they tend to decrease in value.

Quality of Construction

Manufactured homes are typically considered to be lower quality than modular homes because they’re often built with less expensive materials and construction techniques that can have a shorter lifespan.

Modular homes are typically more durable and safer than manufactured ones because they’re constructed with higher quality materials that meet a variety of building codes.

They can also come with higher-end finishes like real wood flooring and granite countertops.

Shipping and Installation Time

Modular homes are shipped and installed in far less time than manufactured homes because they’re completely built on-site and are easier to ship in their separate parts.

Manufactured houses take much longer both during shipping as well as installation because they’re fully built-in factories first.

Buyer’s Home History

With modular homes, you have the ability to see where they’ve been built and maintained over time.

Modular homes are subject to the same consumer protections as other types of new homes, even though they’re often built in factories and transported to home sites.

Manufactured homes are subject to change in ownership, which can make it difficult for buyers who want their own history with a home.

Manufactured homebuyers don’t have the luxury of seeing where their home has been or how it has been maintained over time.


Since modular homes are built in sections, they are fully customizable. This of course increases the expense of the unit.

Manufactured homes are only customizable to a certain degree.

Manufacturers often stock the same floor plans and home models for manufactured homes which means you’re more limited in your design options.

HUD Code

Manufactured homes are not required to meet local building codes and instead follow a set of national rules from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

They must display a visible HUD certification label on each main section of the home.

Manufactured homes are designed to meet the requirements of local and state codes and must conform to the code of the state in which they are shipped.


Modular homes are typically placed on a permanent foundation and are required to conform to all regional, state, and local building codes.

Manufactured homes are built on a steel chassis attached to a set of wheels so the structure can be easily transported.

The steel chassis is never removed. These wheels can be added and removed as needed, depending on how frequently one transfers the home.


Typically, it costs more to insure a modular home than a traditional home.


I can’t find my HUD Compliance Certificate in my house. Is that going to be a problem when I sell?

This depends on your lender. Give them a call to discuss your options and also take a look at the HUD site to recover your certificate.

How much can I expect to save by purchasing a modular home instead of an on-site home?

In general, one may save approximately 10 to 20 percent on a modular home versus a site-built home.

How much can I expect to save by purchasing a manufactured home instead of an on-site home?

One may save approximately 30 to 50 percent on a manufactured home versus a site-built home.

Can I move my modular home?

Technically, all homes can be moved. However, this may be cost-prohibitive for many people.

If your modular home remains on a steel chassis when it’s placed on a site, it will be much easier and cost-effective to move to another location.

Is there any way for me to increase the value of my manufactured home?

Yes, you could make your manufactured home more valuable by making minor changes.

Some houses that have increased in value are ones that have been updated with newer cabinetry, appliances, and floor plans.

Other homes have increased in value by adding an extension to the back or side of the house.

How do I make my manufactured or modular home look like a site-built home?

To make your manufactured or modular home look like a site-built home, you can add an extension to the back, side, or front of the house.

Manufactured homes are more flexible and may be able to have these additions made with ease.

One could also update the interior finishes to modernize the appearance.

Modular homes are also generally required by building codes to meet all regional, state, and local codes.

This means that they will come with quality cabinetry and appliances that will give them the same appearance as a site-built home.

Final Thoughts

The choice of a modular or manufactured home is an important one.

It’s crucial to consider one’s needs and desires for a home, the type of land you’ll put it on, what code requirements are necessary for that area, and how much money you’re willing to spend when making this decision.

Manufactured homes typically come with more options but less customization than modular homes, which have greater design flexibility at higher prices.

Remember that we’ve broken down the pros and cons of modular homes in a previous post.

The final decision will depend on each individual’s wants and needs as well as their budget; both types offer something special depending on these factors.