Manufactured housing (also known as prefabricated housing) is a type of housing unit that is largely assembled in factories and then transported to sites of use.
In the United States, the term manufactured housing specifically refers to a house built entirely in a protected environment under a federal code set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The term mobile home describes factory-built homes produced prior to the 1976 HUD Code enactment.
The original focus of this form of housing was its mobility. Units were initially marketed primarily to people whose lifestyle required mobility. However, beginning in the 1950s, these homes began to be marketed primarily as an inexpensive form of housing designed to be set up and left in a location for long periods of time, or even permanently installed with a masonry foundation. Previously, units had been eight feet or less in width, but in 1956, the 10-foot (3.0 m) wide home was introduced. This helped solidify the line between mobile and house/travel trailers, since the smaller units could be moved simply with an automobile, but the larger, wider units required the services of a professional trucking company. In the 1960s and ’70s, the homes became even longer and wider, making the mobility of the units more difficult. Today, when a factory-built home is moved to a location, it is usually kept there permanently.
Both types of homes – manufactured and modular – are commonly referred to as factory built housing, but they are not identical. Modular homes are transported on flatbed trucks rather than beingtowed, and lack axles and an automotive-type frame. However, some modular houses are towed behind a semi-truck or toter on a frame similar to that of a trailer. The house is usually in two pieces and is hauled by two separate trucks. Each frame has five or more axles, depending on the size of the house. Once the house has reached its location, the axles and the tongue of the frame are then removed, and the house is set on a concrete foundation by a large crane. Most modern modular homes, once fully assembled, are indistinguishable from site-built homes. Their roofs are usually transported as separate units, eradicating the telltale roof line of the factory built home.