Manufactured, Mobile Home, or Stick-Built?

A lot of folks are confused about the difference between manufactured homes, mobile homes and stick-built homes.  Most of the differences have to do with the way these units are built: was it built on-site or prefabricated in a manufacturing plant and trucked to the building site?  Is it mounted on posts and piers, or is it affixed to a foundation?  Is it considered a house or a vehicle?  But some of the other differences can affect one’s ability to get a loan on the property, and others can prevent it altogether.

Here’s the simple explanation:


A stick-built home will appreciate over time.  It is built on-site, on a solid foundation (concrete slab or perimeter), and is considered a house.



Mobile HomeA mobile home is more of a “disposable” home (don’t be discouraged by that term, though, I’m talking decades here!), and is considered a vehicle, therefore it must be registered, and will depreciate as it ages.  They are constructed in their entirety off-site, trucked to their new location, and stabilized when they arrive.  Double-wide and larger mobile homes are affixed together at the new site, but other than that all sizes of these homes are completely constructed when they arrive, down to the flooring, siding, and rain gutters.  Generally they are mounted on posts and piers, although some are supported by other types of footing, brace and plate systems, and most have flat roofs.  Many counties throughout California do not allow mobile homes to be placed on just any property, however – these counties require mobile homes be contained in parks.  Calaveras County is fortunately not one of these, although there are a few mobile home parks located throughout the county, some for those residents who are 55 years old or older only, many of these type homes have been erected on acreages on their own here.  The chief plus on the side of mobile homes is that they tend to cost much less than their counterparts.



Manufactured HomeManufactured, or modular, homes are constructed off-site in sections and pieces, trucked to the construction site, and put together there.  They are still considered mobile homes as far as most lenders are concerned, but are permanent once constructed, unlike mobile homes which could conceivably be trucked to another location after being secured to an initial plot of land.  Manufactured homes are usually mounted to a regular foundation, such as a slab or concrete perimeter with a crawlspace or even a full basement.  These homes usually make premium use of the space provided by their square footage, with very user-friendly layouts and ample storage.  And their shelf life is considerably longer than traditional mobile homes because they tend to be constructed of higher quality materials.  Unfortunately, although they don’t depreciate at a head-spinning rate, they also don’t hold their value as well as a stick-built home, and they are hard to find loans for at this point in time.  Also, if there have been changes or additions made to the layout of the building after construction is finaled, be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for a lender willing to work with that particular property.