What is the difference between a “mobile” and “manufactured” home? While it can seem like these terms are used interchangeably, the difference between the two says alot about the history of mobile homes, and the initiation of the HUD Building Code. 

A little history:

Along with the expansion of American highway infrastructure came an inevitable rush in road travel in the twentieth century. Travel trailers and other mobile living spaces became more in demand, and the technology was developing fast. At this time, the focus was on mobility: a mobile home was often designed primarily to be relocated time and time again. 

The post-World War II era saw a boom of this kind of housing stock, and a great diversity of building materials and standards. While HUD (the Department of Housing and Urban Development) oversaw buildings built in the US, until 1974, there was no oversight or regulation on what were then called “mobile” homes. 

After the mid-seventies, all manufactured homes in the United States have been built according to HUD building codes. Regulations were introduced regarding design and construction, strength and durability, transportability and fire resistance, among other things.

Manufactured homes are factory-built homes, built on a permanent chassis and then transported to their sites using removable axles and wheels. Beginning with the Federal Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, all manufactured homes must pass a standard national HUD examination. In 2000, Congress updated the 1974 Act.

HUD code also sets performance standards for heating, plumbing, air-conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. Each home is required to display a red certification label on the exterior of each transportable section.

Because of the HUD code, manufactured home construction and safety standards are often indistinguishable from traditional stick-built housing. They can have pitched roofs, vaulted ceilings, two-stories and amenities like spa-like bathrooms, fireplaces, and wrap-around porches.

The HUD-Code is periodically updated based on recommendations of the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee, composed of a balanced group of users, producers, general interest, and public officials who meet on a regular basis to work on recommendations for revisions to the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (MHCSS).