What are the Differences between Prefab and Manufactured Homes?

When talking about different kinds of homes, there may be some confusion in regards to the terms used to discuss what kind of house is being built. Prefab, Modular, Panel Built, and Manufactured are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably, but they all mean different things.


Short for Prefabricated housing, “Prefab” is a broad term that encompasses several different types of building. Technically, any home that has sections of the structure built in a factory and then assembled on site can fall under the “prefab” designation. Both Modular and Panel Built fall under the umbrella term of prefab, but just as different types of dogs are all canines but differ from each other, Modular and Panel Built both qualify as prefab, but are still different.

Panel Building

This type of construction can be useful in building houses that don’t work neatly as modules and it can be just as structurally sound as other types of prefabricated building. Commercial prefabricated building is often done this way as it allows for wide open spaces and high ceilings. It is also much less expensive to transport a building in panels than in modules if it is large enough.

In the video you will notice that both the first and second story floors are bare when they are lifted in. This is not always the case. Sometimes manufacturers will already have placed anything that can be bolted down. Toilets, sinks, dishwashers, and anything else that can be properly secured during travel can be pre-attached to the floor and cabinets and light fixtures can be pre-attached to walls. This means less work for the builder and saved time and money for you.

Modular Building

This picture shows a module being lowered in place by a crane. With modular building, the house is constructed in separate box-like modules which are then secured together to form a whole. Since the modules have to be transported on the backs of flat-bed trucks over highways, they generally have to be no longer than the truck and no wider than 16’. This traditionally meant that every room in the house had to be less than 16’ wide, but with new technology, old barriers in modular building are breaking down and houses are becoming infinitely customizable.

Modular building usually doesn’t allow for additional structures like garages or porches to be built in the factory, but by combining panel building and modern modular building techniques, modular home factories are able deliver your home up to 90% complete.

While built in a factory like prefabs, there is no construction that happens on site. Manufactured homes are constructed on a steel frame, shipped on its own wheels, and then laid on a crawl space, or a slab of concrete. In some cases, the wheels that got the house to the build site aren’t even removed, just covered up with side skirting. The picture on the right has had skirting added to try to conceal that it is a manufactured home.

The Difference Between The Two

Building Codes

Prefabricated houses of all kinds must adhere to state and federal building codes and undergo regular inspections, just like any site-built home. This ensures that prefab homes are at least as safe as their site-built counterparts, though there is evidence that a well-built modular home is even more sturdy than a similar site-built home. Manufactured homes on the other hand only have to adhere to HUD standards (Department of Housing and Urban Development) which has much more lenient rules and regulations.

Resale Value

Unlike prefabricated homes which are considered real estate and so maintain or increase in value over time like a site-built home, manufactured homes are considered personal property.

Building Limitations

While prefabricated housing used to be limited to very basic designs, modern building techniques have allowed prefabs to become just easily customizable as site-built homes. Unfortunately, manufactured homes are still very much constrained, and have extremely limited options. Most manufactured homes dealers will have the home pre-built and then just sell from their available stock. This means that any customizations made would be done by the owner.


Prefab homes are traditionally wood framed, but the push toward modern styles and sustainable living has forced the industry to adopt steel-frame construction for some projects. This allows modular and panel built homes a flexibility in design that allows for custom architecture. Some manufactured homes still have the tin-can look of years gone by and some have been modernized to look almost like a standard home, but there is little to no room for exterior alterations or creativity.


Perhaps the largest difference between prefab homes and manufactured homes is the quality of the final product. Modular homes are built with factory precision using 25% more material on average than either site-built or manufactured homes. According to FEMA, they stand up better in extreme weather, and they require comparatively little maintenance.

Contact the experts in Prefab and Modular Construction:  USModular Home Builders



Not Your Mother’s Manufactured Home!

Modern manufactured homes have come a long way since they were first introduced in World War II.   A manufactured home is still built in a factory, but can range in size up to and over 3,000 square feet and include all the features of a custom home.

What sets a USModular Manufactured Home Apart From the Rest?

USModular Home Builders is a name you can trust in helping you build your modular or manufactured home!

We are a 2nd generation Manufactured Home Builder with over 70 combined years of combined design and construction experience.

Our manufactured homes are built in a controlled factory environment protected from rain, sleet, snow. Efficient scheduling and delivery of manufactured homes reduces delivery costs and building delays to save you money.

Our manufactured homes and modular homes are 100% assembled in the USA using only the highest grade home building materials to ensure the best quality and workmanship available.

USModular works with top engineers, designers and factories to ensure your Manufactured Home meets yours and our standards of excellence at a fair price.

Watch the Video!

And you thought the exterior was beautiful?

The modern manufactured home has interiors that rival any site-built custom home.  Finishes are available in partial or full finished drywall with a full range of exterior, interior, window flooring and appliance options. Even Cathedral ceilings, gourmet kitchens and elegant baths can be built. Two stories are available for those long, skinny lots by the beach or tree filled lots in the mountains.

A Lender You Can Trust

USModular Lending Partners offer financing for Manufactured Homes.   Contact our lending partner, GMH Mortgage to get prequalified and get started on building your dream home!



Choose the Best Options for your Manufactured Home

If you are buying a new manufactured home, you will need to decide which company will be building your new home. You want a home that is within your budget and built with solid construction and quality workmanship. Being an informed consumer and researching the homes, builders, and dealerships can help you make the best choices.

Construction quality varies by model and region. Manufactured homebuilders offer models that range drastically in price, size, and construction quality. Lower priced homes will not have the same building composition that a site built home offers. Builders would never make a profit if they offered those options at the lowest price.

The numerous models and options available in manufactured housing is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The biggest advantage is obvious, the endless options give you, the homebuyer, ultimate control over every aspect of the home. A home can be built to whatever specifications you may have and at a price site built homes simply cannot match.

A disadvantage of offering so many different home models is the fact that these options are disregarded when it comes to the overall opinion of manufactured homes. The poor reputation that manufactured homes have is undoubtedly based on the lowest priced models, which happens to be the most common. The fact is that builders offer many home models, from low cost to luxury, and many of them meet or exceed site built homes in every way. It would be similar to thinking that every car is exactly like a 1971 Pinto, named one of the worst cars in history. You simply can’t judge all of them based on only a few.

Another disadvantage of offering so many different options and upgrades is the homebuyer can become overwhelmed during the buying process. We’re here to help though! The following information will help you figure out the best options and upgrades to consider for your new manufactured home.

Models and Price Ranges

From low cost to luxury, manufacturered homes are available in every price range. The price range will determine the overall quality of the model.

Lower priced homes will have basic grade materials and HUD acceptable construction. Thin interior walls and lower ceiling height is standard in these homes, as is the lower grade carpeting and wall panels.

Mid-to-high priced homes will offer better material quality and higher construction composition. Upgrades like double pane windows, shingle roof, larger studs, and higher ceiling heights are used in higher priced homes.

Options and Features

Aesthetic options include carpeting, vinyl, wall panels, counter tops, cabinets, faucets, siding and the like. There’s a style for everyone! However, a homebuyer should not put much emphasis on the aesthetics of a new home because styles change every few years.

Non-aesthetic options are the most important. Options such as roof pitch, insulation, exterior sheathing, wall studs, floor decking, doors and windows, and other aspects that make up the home construction. Here’s what you will need to consider

1.  Roof Pitch

Roof pitch is determined by the raise of the roof for every foot of the run. A 4/12 pitch means the roof raises 4 inches every foot from end to center.

Site built homes have roofs from 4/12 and go all the way up to 12/12. Most professionals correlate higher pitches with better construction, meaning the roofs can withstand more weight.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, you want a higher roof pitch. Those in the mild winter areas, probably don’t have a need for high pitched roofs.

2.  Insulation

Insulation is rated by the R number, or R-value. A higher R-value means the insulation holds heat better or has a better thermal resistance.

There are four types of insulation used in a manufactured home: roof, ceiling, walls and flooring.

HUD code requires every home to have a minimum R-value for each type, or location, of the insulation. Roofs must have a minimum R-value of 14. Ceilings, walls, and floors must use a minimum of a 7 R-value insulation.

Upgrading the home’s insulation is a smart decision, especially if you live in cold climate areas. You can easily make up the cost of upgrading with lower heating costs.

3.  Framing

The framing of a home is very important. Framing gives the home strength and shape.

Most professionals recommend a minimum of 2×6 inch framing on a 16 inch center (2×6″ 16″ OC). This allows ample insulation and provides strength.

The smaller 2×4 inch framing is mostly used in the lowest priced models and it is often recommended that a buyer upgrade to the 2×6 inch.

Contact the manufactured home experts in California to discover your best options for choosing a manufactured home.  USModular, Inc. is a licensed dealer and general contractor.  We will save you time and money as we are a one-stop shop for your new home!

Contact Us!  info@usmodularinc.com


Trends in San Diego – Manufactured Homes

Trends in San Diego

Formerly referred to as mobile homes, modern manufactured homes in San Diego have many more options than in past years when the original mobile homes which were constructed in a factory and brought to locations for the GIs returning home from World War II. Manufactured homes of today are still built in a factory, but these are now high tech completely climate controlled environments, and today’s Manufactured Homes are built as well as conventional stick-built homes. They can range in size from as little as 640 to 2640 square feet and more. They are available in non, partial, or full finished drywall with a full range of exterior, interior, window flooring and appliance options. Even Cathedral ceilings, gourmet kitchens and elegant baths can be built. Two stories are available for those long, skinny lots by the beach or tree filled lots in the mountains.

Manufactured homes conform to the U.S. government’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, otherwise known as HUD code. The HUD code requires manufactured homes to be built on a steel chassis, which is non-removable. They are transported to the building site on their own wheels, in one or two sections depending on the width of the home, and joined by construction professionals. They can be placed on a permanent foundation if desired. Manufactured homes are typically built for Mobile Home Parks – but can be also placed on private property.