MANUFACTURED HOMES VERSUS SITE-BUILT: THE DEBATE
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please” – Mark Twain
Manufactured homes are probably the most studied and analyzed form of housing in the country. It sometimes appears that the self-serving site-built housing industry has an obsession attempting to find something to discredit manufactured housing. Most of the negatives espoused were true of the “mobile homes” over 40 years ago! But not now.
The truth, today’s manufactured home is at least equal, and often superior, in every respect to a comparable site-built home, and of course, will have a cost of about 50% less. The following are a sampling of random quick facts, studies, reports, and opinions by people and organizations with “no ax to grind” manufactured home vs. site-built home debate.
According to a study by the Foremost Insurance Company, 88% of manufactured homeowners report satisfaction with their housing choice. Likewise, a more recent Owens Corning study, conducted by the National Family Opinion, found that 93% of manufactured homeowners are satisfied with their housing choice. No site-built customer satisfaction numbers are available, doubtful they would exceed manufactured home numbers.
When properly sited and maintained, manufactured homes will appreciate (or depreciate) like any other form of housing in the surrounding area and will not have a negative impact on the values of those homes, contrary to what is sometimes espoused by “nimbys” and land use housing officials. Recent data by the Urban Institute, released by the Federal Housing Agency, concluded that the price index for manufactured homes featured an annual growth rate of 3.4 % versus 3.8% for site-built homes.
Enhanced energy efficiency in manufactured homes, achieved with upgraded levels of insulation, more efficient heating and cooling systems and the efficiency of the factory building process, provides another source of savings for homeowners — especially in this era of rising energy costs. Energy Star-labeled manufactured homes can result in as much as 30% additional savings.
A national fire study by the Foremost Insurance Company showed that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire than manufactured homes. The study showed that the number of home fires is 17 per 1000 for site-built homes, while only 8 per 1000 for manufactured homes.
A report by Dr.John Hall, Jr., National Fire Protection Association, compared manufactured homes built after the 1976 HUD Code and other dwellings and found that manufactured homes have a lower incidence of fires and lower injury rates than other single-family homes. Moreover, according to the report, the fire experience rate was 38 to 44 percent lower than the rate for other dwellings.
Wind And Storm Safety
A study by Dr, K.R. Grosskopf of the University of Florida found that not one manufactured home built and installed after 1994 HUD Code changes, was destroyed or seriously damaged by four hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004. The same phenomenon occurred in the Gulf Coast region during Hurricane Katrina and subsequent wind events, with newer manufactured homes performing beyond expectations.
Manufactured homeowners are the only form of single-family homeowners that receive a Homeowners Manual by Federal regulations. Manufactured homes are also warranted against defects in material, workmanship and structural defects for at least one year following home occupancy. Little known fact: Manufactured homes are the only form of single-family housing built and installed to a federally mandated national building code, the HUD Code, in the United States.