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Mobile, Modular, Manufactured Homes: Why They’re Not Made Equal


The terms “mobile,” “modular,” and “manufactured” are a source of confusion for many aspiring homeowners. True, they do bear some similarities, but there are crucial differences in legality, specialty insurance costs, and more. This post will examine the difference between these homes and how they affect homeowners buying decisions and expenses. 

Definition of Each Alternative Home 

The prefab movement has given homeowners the impression that these terms are interchangeable. But they’re not. Here’s how they differ. 

Mobile Home

A mobile home is what people refer to as a trailer home. They’re often confused with manufactured homes because, technically, they are manufactured homes. All manufactured homes built before The National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act of 1974 carry the “mobile home” label. 

Moveable houses built after 1976 are called manufactured homes. It would seem as if it’s just a matter of semantics. However, mobile homes built before 1976 were made under a lower standard of building regulations.  

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are movable houses built after 1976 under a higher standard of building regulations. With that said, they tend to offer more amenities than older mobile homes do. They’re also cheaper, faster to build, have customizable features, and sit on more solid foundations. They’re also more energy-efficient. 

The interior of these homes resembles traditional houses and often comes with comprehensive floor plans. They can facilitate fully-furnished bedrooms, luxurious tile flooring, and bathrooms equipped with large tubs and sinks. Older mobile homes typically do not come with such features.

Modular Home

Modular homes are the most confusing of the three if you are new to the world of alternative living. They’re prefab homes, built in two to five pieces, meant to stay in one location. Manufacturers build them on a solid foundation, and homeowners can’t relocate them afterward. 

Once completed, they look like traditional site-built homes. With that said, modular homes do provide the luxury of a manufactured home since they too allow for spacious floor plans and customizable home decor. They also give homeowners the closest experience to a site-built home but at a reduced cost. 

Legal Status Throughout the United States 

Homeowners often worry about the legal status of these homes. After all, they’re not traditional housing establishments like site-built homes or a condo. But that hasn’t stopped American homeowners from successfully living in these homes. 

For example, 22 million U.S. residents live in manufactured homes. The key is to understand the legality of these homes in your state. That includes the five states where CoverTree operates – Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. 

Fortunately, most states allow homeowners to live in a mobile, modular, or manufactured home. Some general rules apply nationwide. 

Laws for Mobile, Modular and Manufactured Homes in the U.S.

  • Study Your State’s Zoning Laws – You can put any of these homes in virtually any state, but each has unique zoning laws. These regulations may affect where you can put your home. Insurance companies treat modular homes like regular homes, so you’ll have an easier time with them. Manufactured homes undergo more scrutiny since the restrictions around them are strict. 
  • Choose a Newer Home – If you’re buying a manufactured home, it’s better to choose a newer one than an older one. Manufactured home insurance is cheaper for newer units but also subject to less scrutiny. HUD codes make homes built in the 70s, 80s, and 90s less likely to get approved, so a more recent unit is ideal. 
  • Secure a Moving Permit – To move your home, you will need a permit regardless of your state. You will have to serve up a certificate from your county treasurer and a property title certificate (or a copy) to get your permit. 

Aside from these requirements, you should be free to move your home to a location of choice. Of course, the availability of locales will depend on your state’s zoning laws, among other factors. 

Speciality Insurance: Differences & Similarities 

Since “mobile” homes built after 1976 are technically “manufactured homes,” we will focus on manufactured and modular home insurance. Modular home insurance and manufactured home insurance have some similarities and differences. Here’s how they stack up. 

Modular Home Insurance

  • Doesn’t usually cover the home while it’s in construction, transport, setting, or finished
  • Modular home cost for insurance policies are similar to traditional home insurance
  • They may include dwelling and personal property coverage and liability protection 
  • HO-3 policies often cover modular homes 

Manufactured Home Insurance

  • Most policies don’t offer coverage during the transport of a manufactured home, but some do
  • They’re typically covered with an HO-7 policy 
  • They usually cost more than standard homeowners insurance (including those for modular homes) 

In general, you’re going to find more typical insurance quotes with modular homes than manufactured ones. Modular homes often qualify for HO-3 policies, while manufactured homes qualify for HO-7 policies. It’s crucial you understand that you can’t insure a manufactured home with a standard homeowner or HO-3 policy. 

Similar factors determine modular home insurance and manufactured home insurance quotes despite their differences. They include: 

  • The size, age and value of the house
  • The value of your belongings 
  • The physical location of the house (based on ZIP code and localized risks such as weather and crime)
  • Materials used to build the house
  • History of home renovations and repairs
  • The security features of the home
  • The safety features of the home

Here at CoverTree, we provide comprehensive insurance police for both types of homes. Whether you’re looking for modular home insurance or manufactured home insurance, we offer affordable premiums that cover you in the aftermath of an emergency. 

Coverage For All 

Whether you live in a modular palace or a manufactured pad, you can have a rewarding home ownership experience. Of course, you need to know the rules and make the right moves (excuse the pun). That means knowing your state’s legal ins and outs and ensuring you get coverage against uncertainty. Also, make sure to work with the right team. Working with a reputable home builder, mover, and insurer like CoverTree can make your dream home a reality. 

Here at CoverTree, we offer both manufactured and modular home insurance premiums that are affordable and comprehensive. Get a quote now! 

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