A crane lifting a modular home panel

In today’s ever-climbing housing market, finding a home at a reasonable price is rare. This sudden explosion in housing costs has also led to rising value in modular homes. 

This article will outline the difference between modular homes and manufactured homes. We will also talk about why it’s essential to know if the home you are looking at is modular and some tips for spotting modular homes during your housing search. 

So how exactly can you tell if the home you are thinking about buying is modular? 

How Can You Tell If a Home Is Modular?

You can tell if a home is modular if it was built in separate pieces in a factory and transported to its current location to be assembled. A modular home should also come with a label stating which codes the home was built to instead of a HUD code like a manufactured home. 

The Difference Between Modular and Manufactured Homes

Often modular and manufactured homes are mistaken for each other due to their construction. However, there are several critical differences between modular and manufactured homes. So let’s take a quick look at what those differences are. 

What Makes a Home Modular?

First, it’s essential to understand what makes a home modular, as these homes are prevalent and relatively difficult to distinguish from a traditional stick-built home

The main features that make a home modular are:

  • Being built in sections at a factory. 
  • It is fully customizable, and there are many styles to choose from.
  • It is transported on the back of large trucks.
  • Each modular home is built to state codes and regulations and has a UBC sticker
  • Once a modular home has arrived, it is assembled by a certified contractor.
  • It does not decrease in value so long as it’s been put together correctly and well maintained. 
  • It includes a label somewhere on the home stating which codes it was built to. 
A modular home is assembled in a factory

A great way to mark the difference between modular and manufactured homes is to remember that it’s probably modular if the home’s ever been transported on something with wheels. On the other hand, if the home has ever had wheels or been towed on wheels, it’s most likely a manufactured home.

What Makes a Home Manufactured?

Manufactured homes, also called mobile homes, are a great cheap home option. However, they tend to depreciate more than the average home type.

A row of manufactured homes on a lakefront

Though the two home types (manufactured and modular) are often confused, they are vastly different types of homes. So let’s talk a little about what exactly makes a house a manufactured one. 

The main features that designate a home as manufactured are:

  • It comes with a HUD tag if built after June 15, 1976. 
  • It tends to decrease in value over time.
  • They are generally built onto an immovable steel trailer frame.
  • Some manufactured homes come with a trailer hitch which can be removed. 
  • They tend to be longer rather than wider since they need to be able to fit on the road. 
  • Most manufactured homes look similar since there are few designs.

Though these homes are created to be more mobile, many people opt to set them into a foundation. Unfortunately, this orientation makes it trickier to tell if the house was ever on wheels.

In addition, manufactured homes tend to lose value rather than gain it due to how cheaply they are made and the fact that they are not specifically made for each state’s code and home regulations. 

The Best Way To Spot a Modular Home

Now you know the difference between a modular home and a manufactured home. However, spotting a modular home isn’t always that simple since they are excellent at blending in.

A modular home's backyard with a pool in the foreground

In addition, modular homes can be built any way you wish, making them practically impossible to distinguish from a traditional stick-built home. 

Ways to tell if a home is modular: 

  • Have a home inspector take a look – hiring a home inspector is a great way to understand the origins of a potential home and will leave you feeling confident of a house’s make. 
  • Get ahold of the home’s blueprints – blueprints are a great way to see the home’s layout and will clue you in if your home was ever put together in pieces. 
  • Ask the real estate agent – often, the listed real estate agent will be able to verify if the home you want to purchase is modular or not since the seller is generally required to divulge this information. 
  • Look at the home’s overall shape – if a home is rounded or has a unique shape, chances are it’s not a modular home, as these more creative shapes are difficult to achieve in a modular home factory. 
  • Look at how high the home’s ceilings are – high open ceilings are a significant sign of whether a home is modular. High ceilings are not conducive to transporting a modular home, so they are often built with low ceilings to accommodate the move. 
  • Assess the home’s location – home located in a hard-to-reach rural location is more likely to be modular since it can be so difficult and expensive to get a construction crew out into the area. 

Ultimately with some minor investigating, you should be able to unearth whether the home you are looking at is modular or not. 

Now you might be wondering if it really matters whether a home is modular or not and how the distinction might affect its resale value down the road.

So what exactly makes knowing your home’s origins so important?

Why Is It Important To Know If a Home Is Modular?

It’s important to know if a home is modular because this can affect what it can sell for, and potential buyers will want to see this information before purchasing. In addition, both modular and manufactured homes are often mixed up, and manufactured homes are more likely to depreciate. 

Modular homes are a great way to get a house quickly onto a lot you have purchased, but you should be aware that some home buyers are less likely to buy a modular home. This shouldn’t be a problem, but you may have a smaller pool of interested buyers if the market slows. 


The easiest way to tell if a home is modular is to ask the real estate agent, have the home inspected, or check the blueprints. 

The best way to tell if the home you are looking at is modular is by:

  • The overall shape
  • Whether the house has a UBC sticker
  • How high the ceilings are
  • Where the home is located

Modular homes are still great home options and are often indistinguishable from stick-built houses. However, it’s always good to know exactly where your home comes from. 


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