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Mobile or Modular

When today’s consumers are looking for less expensive, alternative building options, they need to know the differences between the options and their impact on potential financing.

Mobile/modular dealers did themselves ” as well as the general public ” a disservice by adopting the term “modular” for their double-wide mobile homes.

Modular once described homes built in two sections on floor joists, then brought to a site.

Dealers further complicated the issue by calling all modular/mobile homes “stick built.” For everyone concerned, it is about time to clarify these terms.

In a recent press release, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) has defined mobile home, HUD and trailer as one and the same, having a permanent chassis such as the undercarriage on an automobile (wheels and axles). Fannie Mae recently became more restrictive in their financing guidelines on these types of homes.

Other manufactured housing types are UBC, modular, sectional, component or factory built, etc. These are considered the same as a site-built home and are financed the same way. A foundation is required for all of these, and they have to meet certain standards as well.

HUD homes are mobile homes built after 1976, according to standards set by HUD (Housing and Urban Development). Homes built prior to this can be financed, but it requires more effort and creativity. HUD homes are supposed to have a small metal plate on one end of the unit, which is not to be removed. However, when in doubt, check underneath for the metal chassis. I have seen these plates covered by new siding, or painted, making them difficult to locate.

UBC stands for Uniform Building Code. These homes meet a specific set of guidelines whether they are on-site built, or built in two or more sections and brought to the site.

Remember, all homes have to be built to the same standards regarding basic construction. The finishing touches are what distinguishes a home with a well-built feel and one that feels like a cheaply-built model ” or one that, as is commonly put, “feels like a mobile home.”

Homes built on-site are not necessarily built better than a modular home; on-site homes vary in building quality as well, not all building materials are alike, and neither are all contractors. Shop around and get references no matter what purchase route you follow.


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