Difference Between A 




NOTE: All the information in this post is relative to California and the HUD Manufactured Home mandate. They do vary from State to State so please feel free to share your knowledge on this platform as it will help many of us better understand the many nuances that vary from State to State, County to County and City to City.











This is a "MODULAR HOME"




No, your eyes are not deceiving you. What you see in these two photos is exactly what you could see on a private lot or parcel in Anywhere, USA. Contrary to popular belief both a HUD Manufactured and Modular Home could very well go down the same assembly line in any factory and often times do.


  • Both are available in one and two story floor plans although MODULAR structures can be multiple stories 
  • Both are available in myriad multiple sections and come in a variety of shape and sizes. 
  • Both have virtually the same choices of architectural detail i.e. curvilinear, pop outs, roof line options, T, L and even U shapes can be designed to meet just about any design challenge found in SITE BUILT" homes.
  • Both can have garages albeit HUD MANUFACTURED HOMES do require an alteration permit if the garage is to be attached to the home. Or you can give it the appearance of being attached by unitizing it with flashing, siding and trim details and avoid the alteration permit.
  • Both are available with the same array of flooring, wall & window covering, counter top, appliance and fixture choices throughout.
  • Both can be prepped for tile, shake, composite, or any of the same roofing choices that site built homes use.
  • Both can be sided with anything the designer chooses including stucco albeit the sections are shipped stucco ready and the stucco is applied on site.
  • Both are available with drywall interiors. 



  • You can also design and build a hybrid super structure over a HUD MANUFACTURED HOME and conjoin two floors with an enclosed stairwell









  • and then unitize the two so they look like one dwelling













So now that you know what can be done with either a HUD MANUFACTURED or a MODULAR HOME. Here's the legal definition of both a HUD MANUFACTURED HOME and a MULTIFAMILY MANUFACTURED HOME: 


The following information is right out of the  

California Department of Housing and

Community Development Study Guide for Obtaining a Dealer or Salesperson License playbook



What is a Manufactured Home? 

“Manufactured Homes” are single-family dwellings manufactured in a factory to preemptive federal construction standards. Available designs range from low priced single section homes known as “singlewides,” to upscale homes manufactured in several sections, and even multi-story homes. The photo above is a model designed for placement on a foundation with the garage constructed after the installation of the three-section home.


  • HUD Manufactured Homes are transported on a steel chassis referred to as "The Mainframe" which are never removed.
  • HUD Manufactured Homes are transported on their own wheels and axles (which are now removed in our area)


  • HUD Manufactured Homes are set up on a series of steel pier and jack assemblies or concrete blocks with wood, plastic or poured in place concrete footing.



  • Today's California Housing and Community Development Departments (HCD), now requires that an "ENGINEERED TIE DOWN SYSTEM" (ETS) be installed on any new or reset MOBILE or MANUFACTURED HOME.


  • Finally a HUD MANUFACTURED HOME will have metal HUD TAGS aka INSIGNIA'S, DECALS, LABELS posted on the rear left of each section. The home will also have a "COMPLIANCE Certificate" posted on the inside of the home in various places depending on the manufacturer 




What is a Multifamily

Manufactured Home? 

Just to dispel the notion that HUD MANUFACTURED HOMES are only available in one story single family homes there are also “multi-unit manufactured homes”.  


"A 'multifamily manufactured home' is a structure manufactured in one or more transportable sections to form two or more dwelling units into a single structure when installed. Multifamily manufactured homes may be used as a duplex, a dormitory, a hotel, efficiency units, or apartments, installed on a support system or foundation system. Depending on the situation, it may be required to comply with state and/or federal accessibility requirements." 


Modular Homes  and multi-story structures
  • Modular homes are residences constructed entirely in factories and transported to their sites on flatbed trucks.
  • They are built under controlled conditions, and must meet strict quality-control requirements before they are delivered as do HUD Manufactured Homes. 
  • They arrive in a variety of sections and are generally installed on a poured in place continual footing and stem wall foundation including interior footings.
  • They are generally installed by crane or in some cases with a series of tracks and rollers if cranes are inaccessible or impractical in a given area.
But here are some of the major differences:


  • They must conform to the same local, state and regional building codes as homes built on-site.
  • They are treated the same by banks as homes built on-site and are easily refinance-able. 
  • They follow the same market trends as site-built houses. 
  • They are easily customized albeit today's HUD MANUFACTURED HOMES are as well.
  • They can be designed in multi-story (as much as several stories aka mid-rises), multi-family, residential or commercial apartments, condos, offices, mid-rise motels, etc.
A study by FEMA found that modular homes withstood the wind and water from Hurricane Andrew better than most other homes in the area. They take less time to construct than site-built homes, are more energy-efficient, and generally cost less.
I have been tracking a lot of posts written and contributed by many real estate professionals on various blogging platforms from Active Rain to Linkedin, Bigger Pockets, Trulia, etc as well as several publications and even in some audio visual commentary be it news related, informative documentary or advertorial in nature. 
I don't claim to have all the answers, information or knowledge. However, given the 3 decades I've been in this industry I just thought I should put as much as I can out there for all to see in an effort to clear up many of the misnomers , misunderstandings and misconceptions that so many real estate, construction and lay persons alike may have developed during the course of their research.

"Modular", "Manufactured" "Factory Built"

 construction projects are fast becoming a very 

economical, fast and efficient way to develop multi-

story Hotel and Resort Properties.


Call On Us Anytime To BE Your Go To Guys For


Information & Knowledge About



Why To Choose Us?

John DL Arenden, Broker 

TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments

TAG (The Arendsen Group) Real Estate Sales & Investments is a full service, one-stop, turnkey, family owned and operated real estate brokerage, General Contractor, Manufactured Home Contractor, Developer, Investor, Property Manager, Interior Design, Engineering, architectural, Landscape design, Expert Witness, Consulting, Curative Title and Troubleshooting company with over 100 years of combined experience in the San Diego real estate sales, construction, design & development arena.





SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG VIA EMAIL: Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Comment balloon 4 commentsJohn DL Arendsen • October 17 2016 10:32AM


I love these posts you present that provide explainations and descriptions between various forms of modular and manufactured homes, John.  I doubt most agents are as knowledgeable as you, on this topic.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 2 years ago

Great explanation and breakdown, John.  Thanks for the clarification!

Posted by Fred Griffin presently on Leave of Absence, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 2 years ago

It's what I do Myrl Jeffcoat Well, actually what I've done for the past 3 decades. I've recently spun off into VRBO's. I woke up one day not too long ago and realied I was 71 yrs. old and it was time to statt investing in some passive income. LOL!

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 2 years ago

Thanks Fred Griffin Hope it helps those agents that do deal with them. I see so many RE Professionals get so lost in all the minutia so often and end up losing a deal over it.

I can't begin to even count the number of buyers and sellers who have come to me out of shear frustration if not anger because of bad experiences they've had with agent/brokers who didn't have a clue about what they were doing.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 2 years ago