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Consumer information on Manufactured Housing

What is a manufactured home?

A home, either single or multi-sectioned, built on a permanent frame with a removable transportation system, delivered to a basement or other type of permanent foundation. Manufactured homes are built to rigid federal construction standards nationally mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with foundation requirements determined by factory engineers, meeting federal model standards. State and local building officials inspect the installations of the homes to determine the homes are installed properly. Manufactured homes are the only type of housing built to the federal building code.

Are manufactured homes the same as mobile homes and trailers?

Today’s manufactured homes, incorporating significant improvements in quality, safety, and durability over the last two decades, are dramatically different from yesterday’s “mobile homes” and “trailers.” Manufactured homes look like conventional homes, are financed and taxed like conventional homes when converted to real estate, and are being purchased by consumers from all income levels.

What is the difference between a manufactured home and a modular home?

The difference is the building code used. Manufactured housing is built to the federal HUD code. Modular homes are built to the state of Iowa modular building code. Many manufacturers build both manufactured and modular homes of their plants.

What are some of the advantages of buying a manufactured home?

Value is the primary advantage, with costs estimated to be 25% to 50% less per square foot than conventional site built homes. The average sales price for a manufactured home is $64,000, with the multi-sectional home selling for an average of $78,600. Manufactured homes are a solid investment. As is true for any residential dwelling type, there are many factors that affect the resale value of homes. The well-maintained manufactured home, sited in an attractive, consumer desired environment, will generally appreciate in value. Other advantages include a wide variety of floor plans, custom amenities and architectural styles that make them indistinguishable from site-built homes.

Why is the cost to build a manufactured home less than to build a conventional site-built home?

Manufactured homes can be built for less because they are built in a factory, where quality control, continuous inspection and efficiencies of scale help keep costs down.

Who buys manufactured homes?

People of all ages buy manufactured homes. 23% are under the age of 30. 35% are between the ages of 50 and 70. 36% are between the ages of 30 and 50. 19% are 60 years old and older.

What guarantee does the purchaser have to ensure that the manufactured home will be one of quality and durability?

The Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, better known as the HUD Code, regulates materials used, inspects the home during construction and requires special safety features such as smoke detectors and incombustible materials adjacent to kitchen ranges and furnaces, unlike some site built houses. Manufactured homes are the only form of housing built to this type of national building code.

How is a manufactured home protected from fire?

Research conducted by the Foremost Insurance Company on Midwest residences revealed the chance of fire occurring in a site built home is more than twice that of a manufactured home. The HUD code was the first code to require smoke detectors in all homes. The smoke detectors are required in all designated sleeping areas. The HUD code requires escape windows in addition to exit requirements. Incombustible materials must also be placed around furnaces, kitchen ranges and fireplaces in all manufactured homes.

How will manufactured homes withstand winds?

The HUD Code wind standards have been revised and strengthened. Manufactured homes, built since 1994, have used the more stringent design, construction and material standards. Homes that have been properly anchored to their sites with wind stabilization systems or are attached to permanent foundations are expected to experience the same types of damages during a severe storm as a site built house. Improperly installed anchoring systems, inadequate number of anchors, incorrect anchor locations, and incompatible anchoring systems for existing soil conditions may result in wind damage. Because the updated wind standards include overall strengthening of the home’s components, members of the manufactured housing industry believe homeowners can expect the increased wind resistance regulations to bring the additional benefit of reduced insurance and other costs over time.

How long does it take to build and site a manufactured home?

The average multi-sectioned manufactured home can be built and placed on the home site in just a few weeks, as opposed to several months for a site-built home.

If I buy a manufactured home, can I place the home anywhere I want to?

Before you purchase the home or a prospective lot for the home, check with your city or county. Most Iowa cities and counties require a building permit. Iowa law states that city and counties can’t discriminate against a manufactured home. However, cities and counties still have some regulatory powers. For example, state law allows cities and counties to restrict homes, including manufactured homes, to a 24 feet width standard. If your prospective lot is on land zoned agricultural, then state law does not allow local governments to have a width standard. Also, if you’re looking at a lot in a subdivision, you must check out the covenants for the subdivision. Private developers are allowed to set standards when they build a subdivision. However, the subdivision covenants have to be properly written. A legal covenant could disallow all factory built homes. If a subdivision covenant only disallowed “mobile homes or trailers,” the covenant would not prevent you from choosing a manufactured or modular home.

Where do I go if I have a problem with the manufactured or modular home that I purchased?

You should first contact the retailer where you bought the home. The retailer will review the problem. If it’s a building code issue, the retailer will likely have the factory send out a crew to do repairs. If you think it’s an issue of how the home was installed on the foundation, then contact the installer, if it’s someone other than the retailer. If you aren’t satisfied with the response either from the retailer, installer, or manufacturer, you are advised to contact the state building code commissioner’s office. The state building code commissioner has complete authority over the modular building code and is the representative for the federal government for consumer complaint relative to manufactured housing. The commissioner also has authority over installers. The contact person in the state building code commissioner’s office is Rich Bolten. His phone number is 515-725-6157.

How do I obtain additional information about manufactured or modular homes?

Contact Andy Conlin, Executive Vice President, Iowa Manufactured Housing Association, 515-265-1497.