“Pre-built” Housing Explanations

Modular Homes vs. Manufactured Home: “Pre-built” Housing Explanations

I used to work for a MODULAR homes manufacturer, before becoming an appraiser…


If you’ve ever wondered about the differences between various ‘pre-built’ housing “types”, this 4 part series (below) is a good explanation. See the links below.

These are written by a California contractor/real estate agent who has 30 years’ experience (according to his info).

I used to work for a MODULAR home manufacturer, before becoming an appraiser. This series does not really fully explain how MODULAR is different from “Manufactured.”

In simple terms, MODULAR homes are constructed in a factory to specifications in the International Building Codes (IBC), i.e., similar to site-built homes. They can be ‘stock’, but often are customized to buyer preferences. MODULAR homes are transported (in sections) mostly fully complete to the site on a special trailer – the homes don’t have wheels and axles attached like “Manufactured” homes. A MODULAR home is placed on a typical site-built foundation, which is built before the home arrives.

MODULAR homes compete with site-built homes, and ‘comps’ should come from that type of housing, NOT “Manufactured” homes. Frankly, unless the construction history is known, it is extremely difficult to visually distinguish a MODULAR home from another similar looking site-built home.

MODULAR homes do not have a ‘HUD Tag’ or a ‘HUD Data Plate’ but may have one or more state-mandated identification tag(s) affixed to the exterior of the structure.

The series does not explain ‘panelized’ construction homes. These are built from factory-built wall panels, shipped flat on a trailer, and assembled into a finished home on the site. These are built to the IBC specifications, and compete with site-built homes.

What’s The Difference? RV, Park Model, HUD Manufactured Home? Part 1

What’s The Difference Between A “Travel Trailer” and A “Mobilehome”? Part 2

Difference Between A PRE HUD “Mobilehome” & a HUD “MANUFACTURED HOME” Part 3

The Difference Between A “HUD MANUFACTURED HOME” and A “MODULAR HOME” Part 4

Dave Towne
Image credit flickr - Team Massachusetts 4D Home
Dave Towne

Dave Towne

AGA, MNAA, Accredited Green Appraiser - Licensed in WA State since 2003. Dave Towne on e-AppraisersDirectory.com

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4 Responses

  1. Eric Boggs on Facebook Eric Boggs on Facebook says:

    Well, they pick up the sections with a crane and place them where they are needed. Nuff said.

  2. Avatar Bill Johsnon says:

    How funny, I to used work in a modular home plant (two years) before becoming an appraiser. The differences in construction quality, and skilled labor is striking. On day one, and with little to no training I was suddenly qualified to be a plumber, and an HVAC expert. Future plumbing experience only confirmed I had no idea what I was doing at the time. The worst part of my job was painting the trailer with a thick black coating of protectant that was cement like when it hardened. I’m sure to this day my lungs are still filled with this Rhino like coating. Although it may not be readily observable, don’t for one second assume the skilled labor is the same, and the quality of work is the same.

  3. Baggins Baggins says:

    One time I appraised a modular that looked like a glorious double wide, but like twice the size. LOL, that one took a few rounds to get through underwriting. “It’s a modular or prefab sectional, not a manufactured…” Per Bill’s comments; There is never a rule of thumb for those mods, quality is across the board as much as deferred maintenance may or may not be present in sticks. And don’t you know it, in CO you usually only see the modulars on 1-10 acre plots.

    What gets me is the valuation approach without tie in to replaceable value current. We’ve got double wides going for twice the price of off the shelf new. We’ve got modulars which are indistinguishable from stick in some locations, in fact, half the homes are mods, the other half later add on sticks or vice versa. Then tag on outbuildings larger than the homes. Amc’s remain mystified why I won’t run those at anything less than double rate. I gave up a long time ago trying to explain why.

    What do you get when you cross breed two rednecks and an etheopian? Two more rednecks and a single wide. LOL.

    • Avatar Jessie says:

      Appraised a “modular” today and it appeared to be just the same as a MFH single wide, just saying. The last one I did was similar.


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“Pre-built” Housing Explanations

by Dave Towne time to read: 1 min