When it comes to alternatives to traditional stick-built houses, there are a variety of options available. Two of the most common are manufactured homes and modular homes. So how do they compare? In a manufactured home vs modular matchup, what can you expect to see? In Part 1, we looked at the financial differences (price, value over time, and financing). Today, we’ll be comparing their physical differences.

Manufactured Home vs Modular - Part 2 - Physical Attributes - Featured Image

Manufactured home vs modular home appearance

Another big draw of modular homes is that they are very similar (if not identical) to stick-built homes in appearance. If you were not present during construction, you would be hard-pressed to tell the two apart and it should be almost impossible without a thorough inspection.

Manufactured homes are breaking from their mold as a boxy and genetically designed type of home. Manufacturers have taken advantage of improved manufacturing processes to produce better and more customizable designs. They are not as close in appearance to stick-built homes as modular homes but are getting closer every year.

An attractive and quality skirting that completely hides the chassis and foundation already make them appear much more like a stick-built home. Manufactured homes are typically longer in shape with very rectangular or “boxy” designs.


Once again, modular homes are very close to stick-built homes in this regard. They are often the same size as stick-built homes and on average larger than manufactured homes. You can find modular homes with multiple stories and complex layouts that consist of many rooms.

Manufactured homes rarely come in the same size as stick-built homes. They usually have less complex designs and are built with interiors that are compact. Unfortunately, it’s also not as easy (or recommended even) to try and upgrade the size of your manufactured home as it will most likely lose you your HUD adherence.

cutting boards with a saw

Manufactured homes come in three size categories:

  • Single-wides: 18 feet or less in width and 90 feet or less in length. Average size of 600 to 1300 square feet. Very inexpensive but doesn’t qualify for a mortgage.
  • Double-wides: 20 feet or more in width and 90 feet or less in length. Average size of 2000-2500 square feet. The most popular choice and a substitute for a family home.
  • Triple/multi-wides: up to 50 feet in width. Size can be up to 4500 square feet. This category is rare and can become expensive.


Modular homes are not mobile in any way shape or form. They are permanently added to the permanent foundation that is built for them. They do not have the same chassis, axles, and wheels that manufactured homes have that are supposed to make them mobile. This is also part of the reason why they are considered closer to real estate property.

Manufactured homes come with said chassis, axles, and wheels that are technically meant to give them this type of mobility. However, in reality, they are rarely moved once they have been placed at the location. This is partly due to the high risk attached to moving a structure of this size. After two moves, the home can no longer qualify for any type of financing. It’s also very expensive and can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars depending on the distance.

If you convert your manufactured home to real estate, the feature that makes them mobile are permanently removed or made inoperable.


dandelion being scattered in the wind

High-quality and well-built modular homes should have the same lifespan as a stick-built home, which you can consider indefinite (or at least for the duration of your lifespan). Because they have to adhere to state, regional, and local building codes they are built to the same standards as stick-built homes. If the modular home was constructed and finished correctly, you shouldn’t have any problem in this regard.

There is some contention on this topic, especially when it comes to newer manufactured homes. Older manufactured homes were only given a life expectancy of 20 years or so. However, many of these homes are still standing today and in livable condition. Over the last 40 years since the inception of the HUD code, manufactured homes have seen a dramatic rise in quality.

Typically, modern manufactured homes are attributed a life expectancy of around 30-55 years. In truth, it depends on how the home was cared for and maintained by the owners as well as how well it was able to avoid natural disasters. You can expect a well-cared for and maintained manufactured home to stand much longer.

To be continued…

Come back tomorrow to see how our manufactured home vs modular home matchup ends. We’ll give you the final differences in inherent qualities, lifestyle, and a summary of the pros and cons of each. If you missed last week’s article, be sure to go back and read part one!

About Dan Paton

Dan Paton has been working full-time in this field for over a decade. Both him and his partner, Dan Leighton, formed EZ Homes back in 2006 and have seen explosive growth ever since. Dan works heavily in the administrative role within the organization. He is a jack of all trades type of guy. Dan and his wife have 4 children.