Like any other specialized area of knowledge, the world of manufactured and mobile homes has terms that might be unfamiliar to a newcomer. For those who are buying, selling, or currently owning a manufactured home, it’s important to know the key terms and definitions of our industry.
We’ll discuss a selection of the most crucial terms that will help make homebuyers more knowledgeable and confident when shopping for a manufactured home. These are the key concepts you need to know–from the basics of home buying to the important features that separate one manufactured home from another.
Also called a chattel mortgage, a chattel loan is used to finance the purchase of a manufactured home, using the home itself as collateral. A chattel loan is different from a traditional mortgage in that a chattel loan is made against personal property rather than real property. The term of a chattel loan is usually shorter than a mortgage, its down payment is usually lower and its interest rate can be higher. Chattel loans are often a good choice for manufactured home buyers who are buying a manufactured home without land.
A document that contains key data about a manufactured home, including its date of manufacture, serial number, model and wind zones. Usually located in a cabinet or closet area within the home. Not to be confused with the HUD tag.
A manufactured home with double the width of a single section manufactured home. A double wide is typically 20 to 40 feet wide, up to 80 feet long and is manufactured in multiple sections that are delivered and joined together at the home site. Double wides are among the most popular types of manufactured homes because they provide an ideal balance of living space and affordability. Double wides that are only 50 to 60 feet long are sometimes referred to as “snuggle wides.”
Energy Star Manufactured Home
A manufactured home that meets the U.S. government’s Energy Star standards for manufactured home builders. Energy Star homes are built with close attention to the home’s R-value and its ability to maintain its internal temperature. Energy Star manufactured homes are not only easier on the environment, but they can also save homeowners money by helping to reduce their heating and electricity bills.
A type of thick plastic wrap that’s applied between the siding and interior walls of a manufactured home. House wrap protects against moisture and heat transfer, which helps reduce heating and cooling bills and prevents moisture from building up. The belly wrap, which seals the home’s crawl space against weather and animals, is particularly important.
Officially called the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, the HUD Code is a set of regulations established in 1976 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD Code establishes standards for manufactured homes in areas such as fire resistance, energy efficiency, dimensions, plumbing, electricity, and many others. You can read the full HUD Code and its updates online.
A small red metal plate attached to the rear right corner of a manufactured home’s exterior. The HUD tag (officially known as the HUD Certification Label) certifies that the manufactured home has been built in compliance with the HUD Code’s standards. Manufactured homes with two or more sections will have multiple HUD tags.
The rent that a manufactured homeowner pays to lease the lot that their home is installed on. Average monthly lot rents can vary widely by region, ranging from just over $400 in the Midwest to over $800 in California. In some communities, lot rent includes one or more utilities, such as electricity or gas, so buyers should always carefully examine their lot lease contracts to ensure that they understand what their lot rent includes.
A home with a steel chassis and prefabricated components that are built in a factory and transported, whole or in sections, to its final location. Manufactured homes were once referred to as mobile homes, but models built after the implementation of the HUD Code in 1976 are officially referred to as manufactured homes. Manufactured homes have a variety of advantages: They cost considerably less than site-built homes, are built to a high government-mandated standard of quality, and are assembled by expert home builders in climate-controlled factories.
Manufactured Home Community
Also known as mobile home parks, a manufactured home community is a collection of lots on which manufactured homes are situated, often with community amenities on site. Most manufactured home communities are managed by a property management company that performs lot maintenance, coordinates sales, and collects lot rent. The term “trailer park” was once used for manufactured home communities, but the term has negative connotations based on outdated stereotypes about these communities. “Manufactured home community” or “mobile home park” are now the most accurate terms. Learn more in our in-depth guide about mobile home communities.
Manufactured Home Dealer
A retailer of new and/or used manufactured homes. Manufactured home dealers typically serve a single specific area, and retailers who sell new homes typically offer a selection of model homes that potential buyers can tour. Many retailers work with multiple reputable manufactured home building companies to offer buyers a wide selection.
The seam where two sections of a multi-section manufactured home are joined. During the installation process, the home is bolted together at the marriage line using heavy-duty hardware, and a durable gasket seals the marriage line to prevent it from accumulating moisture and dirt.
This term is often used interchangeably with “manufactured home,” but the terms actually have different meanings. Technically, a mobile home is a pre-1976 home that may or may not be built to the standards of the HUD Code. Anything built since that complies with the HUD Code is actually a manufactured home. The term “mobile home” is also misleading because the vast majority of today’s manufactured homes are moved only once–from the factory to the home site.
Modular homes are another type of factory-built home that’s manufactured in two to five pieces and assembled at the home site. Modular homes often have more complex structures than manufactured homes, and many offer features such as a second story.
On-Frame and Off-Frame
Modular homes can be built with or without a permanent steel chassis. Modular homes with a permanent chassis are referred to as “on-frame,” while homes that are built and delivered on a chassis before being transferred to a permanent foundation are known as “off-frame.” On-frame homes are built according to the HUD standard, while off-frame homes must comply with state and local building codes.
A foundation like those found in site-built houses. Basements and slab foundations are examples of permanent foundations. In most states, a manufactured home placed on a permanent foundation will be titled as real property rather than personal property and may be eligible for traditional home financing options such as mortgages.
Pier and Beam Foundation
A type of non-permanent foundation made with concrete blocks and wooden beams. Concrete blocks are assembled into piers sunk into the ground, which support wooden beams attached to the underside of the manufactured home’s frame.
A roof with a minimum slope of four inches, like the kind seen on most site-built homes. The original mobile homes of the 1970s were often built with flat roofs, but today’s manufactured homes almost always have pitched roofs since they make a home significantly more durable and increase its resistance to wind.
A multi-section manufactured home constructed from four sections, also known as a quadruple wide mobile home . Unlike a modular home, each section of a quad is built according to the HUD code rather than local building standards.
A poured concrete strip that serves as part of a manufactured home’s foundation. Ribbon foundations are widely used because they are easier and less expensive to pour than a full concrete slab.
A metric for measuring a manufactured home’s insulation and its ability to resist heat transfer. Homeowners can often increase their R-values (and reduce their energy bills) by upgrading their manufactured home’s insulation or having more energy-efficient windows installed.
A local or state law that governs land use, including what kind of buildings can be placed on a landowner’s property. These laws sometimes prevent landowners from placing manufactured homes on their land, so landowners should always check their local laws.
A manufactured home community where residents purchase and own their lots rather than renting them from park management. Resident-owned communities are typically run as cooperatives, with residents contributing into a common fund for land and amenity maintenance.
Sidewall Entry or Endwall Entry
Two terms that refer to the location of a manufactured home’s main entry. A sidewall entry is on the long side of a home, while an endwall entry is found on the narrow end.
All manufactured homes need some type of siding to protect their interior walls and insulation. Vinyl siding is among the most popular types of mobile home siding, but other options include wood laminate, fiber cement, and aluminum.
The opposite of a manufactured home; a home built from the ground up at the construction site using traditional foundation, framing and construction methods. Site-built homes are considerably more expensive than manufactured homes and are exposed to the elements during their construction.
The process of preparing a home site to receive a manufactured home. Land must be cleared and leveled to allow a foundation to be constructed and utilities must be connected to the home. Siting can be expensive and time-consuming, so it’s important to establish whether it’s included in a manufactured home delivery contract.
Structurally Insulated Panel (SIP)
A type of panel board used for building energy-efficient manufactured homes. SIPs are created from a foam core sandwiched between two pieces of oriented strand board (OSB), creating a cost-effective and energy-efficient building material.
An additional room, built on a separate chassis, that is attached to a manufactured home during installation. Rear porches, sunrooms and mudrooms are often attached as tag-alongs.
An extended room or other structural feature of a manufactured home that’s manufactured and transported inside of the home. During the siting process, the tip-out is pushed into place from the inside. Braces or brackets are typically used to anchor a tip-out to the side of the home.
A truss system is the wooden frame attached to the top of a manufactured home to support the roof. Shingles are installed on top of the truss system and roof insulation is installed inside it.
A HUD regulation establishing zones for different sections of the United States based on wind activity. Manufactured homes must meet the wind zone ratings of the area in which they’re sold. Homeowners can confirm their manufactured home’s wind zone rating by checking the home’s data plate.