Sometimes, it’s hard to find a home that checks all of the boxes. Let’s say you’re looking for (for example) a home with at least three bedrooms and two baths, plus a kitchen with an island counter and updated appliances, plus energy-efficient windows. Even if you find one that suits your needs, can you find it at a reasonable cost? Too often, the answer is no when it comes to site-built homes.
For many homebuyers, a custom mobile home is the answer they’re looking for. Custom mobile homes offer an expansive range of options to suit each homebuyer’s tastes, and they typically cost less than half as much per square foot as site-built homes. This makes an excellent option for anyone looking for affordable housing that they can tailor to suit their family’s individual needs.
Before any buyer dives into their options for choosing a custom mobile home, it’s important to understand how each customization option works and the key factors to be aware of. And while the buying process for each custom mobile home manufacturer will be slightly different, the categories we’ll discuss here will give you a framework for understanding the decisions you’ll need to make.
The location where you place your custom mobile home will have a significant impact on its size, design and features. Your choice of home model will be affected by the laws and the geographic conditions, so research your local conditions before you get started on choosing your dream home.
Some custom mobile home buyers choose a home site in a manufactured home community. In a manufactured home community, park management will often provide an allowed list of options for builders and home models. It’s important to evaluate these options before choosing to live in a manufactured home community.
Prospective custom home buyers will also need to check with their local authorities to ensure that their choice of home meets relevant zoning and planning standards. Zoning in certain areas may require certain aesthetic features, such as a specific roof pitch or front-facing homes, while some communities outright ban manufactured homes.
Your manufactured home dealer will be able to provide you with help on understanding your zoning laws, and they’ll also handle the permit process for you. Finally, talk to your home dealer about specific site requirements that each model may have, as not every home site may be geographically suitable for every manufactured home model.
Most home manufacturers offer a variety of home models. The model establishes a general concept of the home’s exterior and interior, while leaving room for features to be added and removed. While customizable manufactured home models don’t feature the depth of customization that site-built homes do, each model still typically comes with an array of choices for floor plans, decorative elements and amenities.
First, decide which manufactured home size you’re interested in: single wide, double wide, or multi-section. (For an easy way to visualize each size range, see our visual guide to mobile home sizes.) Consider whether you might need extra space for a growing family or for a relative to live with you.
Next, consider what you’re looking for in the design of the home itself. Do you want something more traditional, or more modern? What exterior elements (such as a porch, gables or bay windows) would you like your home to have? Are there local restrictions on what architectural features your home can have?
Home manufacturers also typically have model homes that prospective buyers can tour. Viewing a model home allows buyers to experience the home for themselves and visualize their own decorations and furniture. To find model homes near you, check MHVillage’s manufactured home model listings.
You’ll need to decide early on whether you want your home to be situated on a permanent foundation. Many manufactured homes are placed on pier and beam foundations, which use stacks of concrete blocks and stout wooden beams to support the home. However, while pier and beam foundations provide reliable stability when properly installed, they’re not classified as permanent foundations.
A permanent foundation (such as a slab foundation or basement) will make your manufactured home more stable and help it maintain its value. Some types of financing, particularly mortgages, are available only for homeowners who place their custom mobile homes on permanent foundations. However, a slab or basement foundation will cost more than a pier and beam foundation, and it will be more time-consuming to install.
Your manufactured home dealer may recommend a certain type of foundation for particular models. Your geographic area will also affect your choice of foundations, as some types of foundations are unsuitable for certain soils and climates.
The floor plan of a custom mobile home is one of the most important decisions a homebuyer will make. Home manufacturers frequently offer a variety of floor plans for each model of home, and manufactured home dealers who work with many different manufacturers often have hundreds of different options available. (Wondering how to read interpret mobile home plans? Check out our How to Read Mobile Home Floor Plans Guide.)
Consider the following when selecting your manufactured home floor plan:
- Bedrooms and Bathrooms: How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Does each bathroom need its own shower?
- Closet Space: How much closet space do you require? Does each bedroom need its own closet?
- Layout: Do you want something open and airy, or a floor plan with a cozier feel?
- Kitchen: Do you need a chef-quality kitchen, or something a little more basic? Do you want an island counter in your kitchen?
Many manufacturers can customize existing floor plans according to customer desires. These customizations can include removing or adding dividers or even relocating or removing entire rooms. Ask your builder about customization options available for any model you’re interested in.
The kitchen is the centerpiece of many homes, and a great kitchen can make cooking a pleasure. Manufactured home kitchen fixtures can be tremendously important for creating your ideal home aesthetic and for making your home a space you love living in. That’s why kitchens are often among the most customizable areas in a custom mobile home, with many options for appliances, cabinets and countertops.
Custom mobile homes typically come with a set of standard kitchen appliances, such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and stove, but many homebuyers often choose to upgrade their appliances. A set of stainless steel kitchen appliances is a popular, durable and attractive choice that many manufactured home builders provide.
Most manufactured home builders also give their clients options for the cabinets in their new homes. Cabinet space can often be added or removed according to a buyer’s wishes, and most manufacturers offer a variety of wood and finish options that are designed to provide a versatile complement for many different decorating schemes.
What about countertops? Quartz and wood laminate are two typical countertop options that offer a modern and elegant look while being easy to clean. Island countertops are another kitchen fixture that’s become increasingly popular, with many newer home models offering kitchen island options.
Bathroom fixtures are another area in which homebuyers have a wide slate of options. Much like kitchens, a variety of cabinet and countertop options are available for bathrooms, which can help turn your bathroom into something luxurious and personalized.
Common bathroom fixtures such as toilets, sinks, bathtubs and showers are also usually easy to customize. Upgrades such as tile showers, dual-flush toilets, jet tubs and bronze sink hardware all allow the homebuyer to create their ideal bathroom.
Customizing a manufactured home’s bathroom can be especially important when a person with disabilities will live in the home. Many home manufacturers offer handicap-accessible features in bathroom design, such as shower grab bars, accessible toilets and roll-in showers.
Windows are another important element of customizing your manufactured home. Many manufacturers allow customers to choose window types or placements, or to upgrade their windows to more energy-efficient models.
Most custom mobile home models are designed with abundant windows to let in plenty of natural light. Large windows, such as picture windows and bay windows, are particularly popular options. Manufactured home builders can also usually accommodate buyers interested in adding more windows or moving the location of windows.
A custom mobile home’s exterior features, such as its porch and siding, are also important parts of the home. Fortunately, many manufactured home models now offer numerous options for exterior features.
In most models, you’ll find options for porches and decks that can add an ideal space for entertaining and enjoying nature to your home. Porches and decks come in a variety of configurations, including recessed porches, screened porches, sunrooms, and many others. Some homeowners also choose to add a porch or deck after their home has been delivered and installed.
Buyers will also need to choose a type of siding. Vinyl is a perennially popular option for manufactured homes, and is available in hundreds of colors and styles. However, options like fiber cement siding are also popular for custom homes, thanks to their durability and attractive appearance.
Finally, manufactured home buyers often choose to give their custom mobile homes a distinctive look via the use of customized accents that complement their home’s exterior. Areas such as doorways are common choices for accents, and the choices of accents range from complementary colors to faux stone or brick veneers in some cases.
Finding a Custom Mobile Home Dealer
Custom mobile home buyers have more options at their disposal than ever. It’s worth taking the time to shop around among manufactured home dealers and find the options that suit your family best because there are choices for every taste and every lifestyle–from budget models to luxury mobile homes with the latest amenities.
The first step is to find custom mobile home dealers near you, since a home dealer will typically only ship within a certain distance. You can use MHVillage’s manufactured home dealer listings and model home listings to find a dealer near you that offers custom mobile homes. Many dealers are authorized to sell homes from several different brands, giving buyers a choice of many great options for brands and models.
Manufacturers That Offer Custom Mobile Homes
Clayton Homes is America’s largest builder of custom mobile homes—and once you see the customization options of their homes, you’ll understand why so many people love them. Clayton Homes’ models offer customization options in everything from cabinetry to shower tile to architectural features, and the company even offers tools like its Clayton Unbuilt campaign (pictured above) to show homebuyers how their custom mobile homes are assembled.
Champion Homes is another premier custom mobile home builder with a longstanding reputation for quality and value. Models like the Champion Innovation HE Series (pictured above) offer a huge variety of customization options inside and out, with attractive and modern design features that create custom mobile homes people love to live in.
Homes of Merit is a custom mobile home builder serving the thriving custom mobile home market in the Southeastern United States, particularly Florida. Homes of Merit’s customization options for their most popular models, such as the Cypress Manor model pictured above, include vaulted ceilings, walk-in closets, recessed lighting and much more. In addition, Homes of Merit homes are built with an eye toward the contemporary design trends that today’s homebuyers want.
Skyline Homes is another innovator in the field of custom mobile homes, and they’ve been pushing the manufactured housing industry forward since their founding back in 1951. Skyline’s models like the Spectra series come with a bevy of customization points and are built with decades of passion, knowledge and experience in manufactured home construction.
MHVillage is a one-stop-shop for custom mobile home resources. From model homes to buyer’s guides to mobile home delivery resources, we give buyers the tools to buy the custom mobile home they’ve always wanted. For more information about the process of building a custom mobile home, see our blog article on how mobile homes are built.