Factory-Built Homes are Worth a Look
Sometimes image is everything. Not long ago, the mobile home evoked images of
identical trailers stacked in rows. What a difference a few years makes.
Today's manufactured homes are challenging the trailer park stigma. Thanks
in part to quality control standards passed in the 1970s, the old trailer
park has gradually evolved into the factory-built, luxury community of the
year 2000, replete with attached garages, vaulted ceilings, golf courses, and
Manufactured-home living is no longer a one-size-fits-all proposition.
Developers of these homes are taking advantage of lower building costs and
recent buying trends to reach a more affluent consumer. The new models range
anywhere from nicely appointed cottages to jumbo, ranch-style homes in the
2,500 square foot range. Developers must be doing something right.
Shipments of manufactured homes exceeded 375,000 in 1998, up from about
254,000 in 1993. That's about one quarter of all new-construction homes sold.
Unlike a site-built home, a manufactured home is built in a factory and
transported by truck to the owner's property for installation. There are
three main advantages to keep in mind. First, they're generally cheaper, as
much as 40 percent lower than site-built homes. Second, a manufactured home
can be ready to move into sooner than a site-built home. Finally, from a
quality standpoint, a manufactured home has the added advantage of being
built under controlled, factory conditions.
What's the catch? There are distinct drawbacks associated with manufactured
homes, as any developer can attest. Some communities have restrictive zoning
ordinances. Some jurisdictions actually prohibit manufactured housing while
others restrict size and appearance. That can be a problem if you're
searching around on your own for a home site, instead of moving into a
developer's planned community.
Furthermore, just as site-built homes aren't perfect because they're "new," a
manufactured home isn't perfect just because it was built in a factory.
You'll need to check the manufacturer's warranty carefully for what it does
and does not cover. In addition, you must make sure your installation goes
"without a hitch." Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development
regulates the design and manufacture of these homes, installation is a
different matter. Careless transportation or improper installation can damage
a manufactured home, or cause systems to work improperly.
By Cliff McCreedy