Mobile homes are quite a trend now. They have existed probably for as long as mankind has mastered wheels and learned to use wheeled wagons as places to live. The modern perception of a mobile (or manufactured) home, though, is quite different: Its mobility mostly means that this house is assembled at a factory and then transported to the site.
There is a lot of information about mobile houses (like, say, on mobilehomelife and other websites). Yet, knowing about this type of home is not the same as your decision: Do you want this type of building for yourself and your family to live in? If you consider it as an option, let’s take a closer look at what’s good and what’s not so good about it.
Definition of a Manufactured Home
Most houses are built right on the site, from the foundation to the roof. The materials and equipment are delivered right there; the works take place there too. This method allows for building big buildings that cover large areas or high skyscrapers.
However, when it comes to private houses, they are not too big to be assembled at a factory and then delivered to the spot where they are installed on the foundation. The foundation and the house itself can be made simultaneously, which accelerates the building process. The current regulations ensure that these houses are as suitable for living as regular ones.
This can be seen by their popularity. As of 2021, about 7.5% of single-family homes in the U.S. belonged to the manufactured type. For various reasons (climatical, demographical, economic, etc.), these houses are much more popular in Southern and Western States.
What’s Great About Manufactured Homes
There are undeniable pros of mobile homes. Though you might intuitively figure them out, let’s focus on the most important ones.
This is the first thing that comes to mind when you consider a manufactured home. Indeed, while the average price of a manufactured house (per square foot) is about $49, that of a site-built house is as high as $107. By other estimations, the difference is even more dramatic: $63.9 vs. $155! Anyway, manufactured houses are much more affordable.
This doesn’t mean cheaper materials or a flimsier build. There are several factors that contribute:
- Factories use assembly lines, which makes building cheaper when scaled;
- The assembly takes place indoors, so the weather does not slow it down;
- Quality control works better, so less has to be redone.
It’s more ambivalent with mortgages: Though they are easier to obtain (because of smaller figures), the interest rate can be higher than that for a regular house. Still, this doesn’t change the overall picture: Manufactured houses are 2-2.5 times cheaper!
The entire process (from scratch) can take up to four months. Sometimes, if the conditions allow for that, you can have your home ready even quicker. Along with making the house itself, it includes the time necessary to receive the permits and prepare the site, as well as connect utilities. But as shop and site processes can be simultaneous, this saves you months of waiting.
These homes are safer than they might seem. It was proved in a hard way: The study conducted after natural disasters, like tornadoes and hurricanes, showed that these homes resisted them very well (partly because of the new safety technologies the manufacturers implemented in recent decades). So, chances are even if you install such a house on a Kansas plain, you won’t wake up in the land of Munchkins.
This safety is achieved due to the HUD code of 1976 which includes reasonable regulations. They also cover transportation safety and energy efficiency.
Today’s mobile homes just need to be eco-friendly. This does not only mean a bonus to your karma but it also means the numbers in your bills will be lower. In a severe climate, though, you might need to spend some more money for extra heat protection.
What’s Not So Great
Great prices come with great advantages, they say. So, while the price is not literal, there are still some weaknesses. They should not remain hidden, so let’s see these drawbacks.
The study conducted in 1990 stated that the average manufactured house can hold up for about 56 years. Sounds not so terrible, but traditional houses often remain functional for centuries. The trick is that the oldest modern-type mobile homes came into existence only in the 1940s, so we have no example of a century-old manufactured home.
The affordability of manufactured homes has its flipside. They are more affordable when new, but they also lose their price after being used. Selling this kind of property is harder after a decade or two, and the price will decrease more dramatically than it would for a regular house.
This trend is not so noticeable now, as new technologies allow for building more durable manufactured houses that age better. Still, it exists, despite being smoothened. So (a paradox as it sounds) this type of home is often seen as a temporary place to live, but there are serious reasons not to hurry away from it.
Being mobile (even though they are now officially “manufactured”) means that a house is delivered to the site by trucks. This is possible because these houses initially have chassis and wheels. This makes delivery easier and faster, yet it imposes limitations on the maximum size of such a building. Even if it’s delivered in parts and is ultimately assembled on the spot, these sizes also have their limitations.
Not Really Mobile
Don’t expect the level of mobility that, say, an RV can offer. These houses are built on chassis and have wheels, but they are only used to be delivered to the site. Such a house can be moved, but it’s not as easy as starting and driving it.
What to Choose?
Despite all these doubts, an M-home remains a reasonable purchase at least to consider. Yet, you need to understand the limitations of the class and think about all potentially necessary expansions before you sign the deal. You might also experience problems trying to resell it. Putting these factors aside, this type of single-family home seems quite an attractive option.