Modular Home vs Manufactured Home: What is the Difference and Which is Better?

Modular Home vs Manufactured Home: What is the Difference and Which is Better?

The traditional notion of “home” has undergone a revolutionary shift in recent years. As housing becomes more scarce (and thus, more expensive), individuals and families alike are choosing a smarter way of living. 

This has spawned styles like tiny houses, urban lofts, modular homes, manufactured homes, trailer living, and more. But today we’re going to peel back the modular home vs manufactured home debate layer by layer.

These two living solutions are often compared to one another. In some cases, the terms are mistakenly used interchangeably. As you’ll discover below, though, they are quite different - and one stands as a far superior living solution.

Follow along as we guide you through the differences between a modular home and a manufactured home and weigh the pros and cons of each style. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a clear understanding of which is right for you between the modular vs manufactured home. 

What is the Difference Between a Modular Home and a Manufactured Home?

First things first - what is the difference between a modular home and a manufactured home? In order to compare and contrast these against each other we must define them and get on the same page.

What is a Modular Home?

So, what is a modular home? This is essentially a house built in pieces or 'modules'. These modules are manufactured in a factory setting under controlled conditions, ensuring precision, uniform quality, and adherence to specific standards. 

Once the modules are complete, they are transported to the desired location and assembled on a permanent foundation, similar to traditional homes. Key features of modular homes include:

  • Consistency in Quality: Being produced in a controlled environment means less exposure to weather-related damage, leading to a higher quality finished product.
  • Customization: Modular homes offer a plethora of design options. From the layout to the finishing touches, you can customize it to your liking.
  • Efficiency: There's a reduced environmental impact and quicker completion timelines with the bulk of construction happening off-site.

What is a Manufactured Home?

Now, let’s introduce the other half of the manufactured vs modular home debate. A manufactured home, previously known as a mobile home, is a type of housing entirely constructed in a factory. 

Unlike modular homes, these do not require a permanent foundation. They are transported to the site on their chassis post-production and can be placed either on a temporary foundation or left on their wheels. Here are some defining characteristics of this type of living solution:

  • Mobility: Given their origin as “mobile homes”, they can be moved from one location to another, offering a sense of flexibility. You can place yours in Eastern Canada and move across the country years down the road with your house if you’d like.
  • Affordability: Manufactured homes typically come at a lower initial cost compared to their modular counterparts. As you’ll soon discover when we compare and contrast modular homes vs manufactured homes, though, you get what you pay for.
  • Regulation: In Canada, the construction and safety standards for manufactured homes are overseen by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). This contrasts with modular homes which are subject to provincial and local building codes.

You may already be starting to lean towards one style or the other. But let’s progress this conversation and compare the modular home vs manufactured home side by side below to leave you with complete clarity as to which style best suits you.

Modular Home vs Manufactured Home: Which is the Right Living Solution For You?

Now that you know the difference between a modular home and a manufactured home, let’s unpack the nuances between each style and give you our take on the matter. 

We’ll look at the things that matter most to you in choosing a sustainable modern living solution: investment, customization, financing, durability, turnaround time, and more. 

When examining the manufactured vs modular home debate through this lens, it becomes abundantly clear that the latter is a superior choice. 

Investment and Value Over Time

When investing in a home, one's focus should not just be on the initial cost but on the value proposition over time. So which is the more sound investment between a manufactured home vs modular home?

Modular homes are often perceived as a solid investment. Since they're built on a permanent foundation, their value can appreciate similarly to traditional homes. 

The stringent building standards and quality control measures they undergo often lead to increased durability, further enhancing their long-term value. While the modular home cost may be higher, this style provides better bang for your buck in the long run.

On the other hand, manufactured homes generally offer a lower upfront cost, but will depreciate over time, like vehicles. This might not be the ideal choice for those looking for an asset that grows in value.

Customization and Design Flexibility

Even though modular and manufactured homes are built in factories, there is still room to make your living space a reflection of you. That being said, one style offers way more flexibility in how you customize and design the home - and that’s modular living.

The beauty of modular homes lies in their adaptability. From the number of rooms to the finishes and fixtures, sizes, and more - the sky's the limit. You can work closely with designers to ensure every nook and cranny fits your vision, making it truly your own.

While there are various design options available for most manufactured homes, they can't rival the extensive customization possibilities offered by modular homes. The advantage here is clear and undeniable. 

Financing and Insurance

Although both styles of living are more affordable than traditional houses, shelling out $50-100k can be overwhelming. That’s where financing comes in. And, you still have to insure these homes. These added costs are important to consider when choosing a housing solution.

Securing modular home financing is no different than traditional home loans as they’re on a permanent foundation. You’ll have a mortgage just like you would in a standard house.

But in some cases, you can actually streamline the financing process directly through the modular home provider you partner with. This can lift a huge weight off your shoulders and eliminate a source of stress. 

When  it comes to insurance premiums, they tend to be comparable to site-built homes, providing homeowners with both stability and peace of mind.

Financing a manufactured home can be a bit more challenging. This is because they aren’t always considered “homes” in the eyes of lenders, and you may have to take out a personal loan since there is no permanent foundation. 

This is somewhat similar to living in a trailer as your permanent residence as it pertains to financing. But, lenders also aren’t as eager to issue loans for manufactured homes as they depreciate rapidly.

Insurance, too, can sometimes come at a higher premium given the mobility factor and perceived risks associated. All that is to say that financing and insurance are a lot more seamless and stress-free when you opt for a modular house.

Durability and Lifespan

The longevity of your home should be at the forefront of your decision-making process. This can be a bit of a wash, and really just depends on who builds your home. Both can offer protection from harsh elements and stand the test of time when you partner with a trusted provider that emphasizes quality.

Nevertheless, modular homes may have an edge here on average. They’re constructed with high-grade materials and adhere to local building codes to ensure they last. The controlled factory environment eliminates many of the common issues site-built homes face, like weather-induced damage.

Though manufactured homes are built to federal standards, their lifespan can be shorter than modular homes, especially if frequently relocated. 

Turnaround Time

When you’re trying to get into a new home - whether it’s a manufactured vs modular home - you want to get the keys fast so you can settle in and get accustomed to your new living space. It shouldn’t take an eternity. And fortunately, it doesn’t have to.

The timeline for how long to get a modular home varies depending on who you partner with. But, the turnaround time is one of the main selling points of modular homes. 

Since a significant portion of the construction happens simultaneously (different modules are built at the same time), homeowners can often move in faster than they would with a traditionally built home. You can work to get your site prepared while the house is being constructed.

And, when you partner with us here at Boxd Living, you gain access to industry-leading turnaround times of less than 60 days - 30 days to build, 30 to deliver and install it. 

While the factory construction of manufactured homes is swift, the lack of customization options means you're generally selecting from pre-designed models, which may or may not align with your ideal home vision. So you get your home fast - but is it really your dream home? Probably not.

So, Which is Better: Modular Home vs Manufactured Home?

Similar to our conversation on the tiny home vs trailer debate, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to which is better between a modular home vs manufactured home. Ultimately, this is something you’ll need to answer for yourself after comparing and contrasting the two styles as we did above.

That being said, you likely are starting to see that the modular home vs manufactured home debate has a clear winner - and that’s the former. Modular homes are a more sound investment and offer far more customization for you to make the space your own. 

Plus, they’re easier to finance and insure - and on average, they last longer. And when you partner with us at Boxd Living, you get your new home fast.

That’s not the only reason to browse our modular homes for sale. You also get the best value with us as we’re $10k less than our closest competitor! 

All this, coupled with the stunning home styles you have at your disposal, warrant a conversation. We encourage you to reach out and learn more about what we can do together to make your dream living scenario a reality.

Closing Thoughts on the Manufactured vs Modular Home Debate

In the comparison between manufactured vs modular homes, the scales lean favorably towards modular homes. Not only do they offer unparalleled customization and design flexibility, but they also ensure durability, a promising investment trajectory, and a swift turnaround time. 

These advantages, coupled with more favorable financing options, make them a superior choice for those seeking a harmonious blend of quality and convenience. 

We hope this conversation on modular home vs manufactured home has provided you with clarity as to which is right for you, whether you take our advice or form your own opinion.

You can learn more about the living solutions we offer in our blog. We’ve written about tiny home size considerations, where to put a tiny home, the cost to build a tiny home, and more. You can also browse our tiny homes for sale in Canada or our backyard office designs if you want a remote workspace on your property.

Otherwise, it’s time to take the first step in making your modular home a reality. It all starts with filling out our home inquiry form to get a quote. Don’t deprive yourself of the affordable, sustainable, customized living space you deserve any longer!

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