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site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

What is a the HUD definition of a manufactured home?

Friday, June 29, 2018

While this might seem like a simple question, the answer is complicated by the fact that many people use the words trailer, mobile home, manufactured home, and modular home interchangeably. But they are not all the same.

    Let’s sort it out by starting with the definition of a manufactured home by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

“A manufactured home (formerly known as a mobile home) is built to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) and displays a red certification label on the exterior of each transportable section. Manufactured homes are built in the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant and are transported in one or more sections on a permanent chassis.”

    HUD was given exclusive jurisdiction over design and construction of manufactured homes by legislation enacted by Congress in 1974, and effective in June of 1976. The agency has gradually improved the standards for their construction over the years since then.

   HUD has four key characteristics of a manufactured home in their definition:

  1. “Built to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code)” - The current standards began with “The National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974,” which had two parts: “Part 3280” set construction standards and “Part 3282” laid out inspection and enforcement requirements. To read the full documents, click on these links:  24CFR3280.pdf and 24CFR3232.pdf
  2. Displays a red certification label on the exterior of each transportable section” - The metal tag has a number stamped on it that is exclusive to each home. It is often called the “HUD tag” or simply the “red tag.” 
  3. “Manufactured homes are built in the controlled environment of a manufacturing plant” - They are not built at the homesite. Also, HUD-approved independent inspectors supervise the construction in the manufacturing plant.
  4. “Transported in one or more sections on a permanent chassis” - Manufactured homes must be built on a permanent steel frame, referred to by HUD as a chassis.

    To see the way the Florida Building Code defines a manufactured home, which is much more detailed, go to our blog post “What is the building code definition of a manufactured home?”


    There is no difference other than a clause in the 1974 Federal Legislation that gave HUD jurisdiction over manufactured homes. It mandated that what was formerly called a mobile home must forevermore be referred to as a manufactured home. Yes, it’s a Federal Law. But “mobile home” is still the way most people refer to the legally required “manufactured home.”


    “Trailer” is the name given to the first towed camping vehicles, which was likely based on the fact that they “trailed behind” a vacationer’s car. The original trailers were not built to any government standards and, as they got progressively bigger over the years, manufacturers in the 1950s began using the new name “mobile home” to define a big trailer meant to be permanently installed in one location as a residence. The different designation was also intended to set mobile homes apart from the shoddy reputation of early house trailers. Today, trailer is most often used to mean a towed recreational vehicle, and the shady implications of the phrase “trailer park” make it a manufactured home owner’s least favorite way to describe their residence.


    Both manufactured homes and modular homes are built in factory, but that is their only similarity. Modular homes look virtually identical to a site-built home and are built to the same building code standards as a site-built home for the area where they will placed. There is no steel chassis with wheels and, upon delivery, they are hoisted by crane into place on a permanent foundation. Modular homes in Florida are manufactured under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES:

Where can I file a complaint if I have problems with my new or used manufactured/mobile home in Florida?

 What are the most common defects in mobile/manufactured home foundation piers?

How do I determine the age of a very old mobile home?

What is a "HUD label verification letter" for a mobile/manufactured home?  

When did a ground cover vapor barrier (plastic sheet) become required under a mobile/manufactured home? 

Is it safe to go under a mobile home? 

Are older mobile homes unsafe? 

What do I need to know about buying a foreclosed mobile home? 

Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it? 

Where do I find the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a mobile home? 

How do I find out how old a mobile home is and who manufactured it?

What is the right price for a used mobile home?

How energy efficient is a mobile home?

When were the first double-wide mobile homes manufactured?

How do I upgrade my old (pre-1976) mobile home to meet HUD standards?

What size air conditioner is right for my mobile home? 

Can you move an older mobile home in Florida? 

What does the HUD tag look like and where do I find it on a mobile home? 

Can you put a zone 1 mobile home in Florida?

How can I remove water under my mobile home?

What's the differences between a trailer, a mobile home, a manufactured home, and a modular home? 

What is a D-sticker mobile home? 

What are the tie-down requirements for a mobile home?

How fireproof is a mobile home?  

Can I install a mobile home myself?

What is a Park Model mobile home?  

Does an addition to a mobile home have to comply with the HUD Code? 

What walls can I remove in a mobile home?

What can I do to prevent dampness and mold in my mobile home? 

How can I tell if a mobile home is well constructed?

• How can I tell the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

       Visit our MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES  page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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