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Are Prefab Homes and Mobile Homes the Same Thing?

Buying a new home is a huge investment that needs proper planning, budgeting, and decision-making. As a new homebuyer, you need to understand the different types of housing options available to find one that best suits your lifestyle and preferences. Some of the major alternatives to stick-built homes are prefab and mobile homes. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, prefab and mobile homes don’t mean the same thing. In this article, we will be discussing the difference between prefab homes and mobile homes and what option is best for you.

What is the difference between prefab and mobile homes?

  • Mode of construction

Prefab and mobile homes are both types of prefabricated homes as they are partially or fully constructed in a factory before they are transported to the site or destination. However, a prefab home is designed to have the same standards as a site-built home. Although it is partially constructed in a factory, the panels are later transported to the site and assembled on a solid foundation like a site-built home. A mobile home is fully constructed in a factory and often on a chassis and wheels to allow easier transportation from one location to the other.

Prefab home vs Mobile home, how are they different?

  • Quality

Prefab homes, also known as modular homes, are considered of higher quality than mobile homes because they are built with the same local, state, and regional building codes as site-built homes. Mobile homes are only required to meet federal standards for approval. Since prefab homes are constructed in a controlled environment, it allows for greater precision and quality control. After assembly, the home is inspected to ensure the home meets all the applicable building codes and standards. Mobile homes may lose their quality over time as they are designed to move from one place to another.

  • Customization

Prefab homes are customized to a greater extent compared to mobile homes. Since they are built-in sections or modules, it makes it easier to customize the home to meet the specific needs of the homeowner. Most manufacturers have available plans that can give you an idea of what you are looking for. Mobile homes, on the other hand, offer fewer customization options because you choose from designs that are already complete. Customizing a mobile home can be challenging since you have to reroute electrical lines, plumbing, and other fixtures that were previously installed by the manufacturer.

  • Cost

Prefab homes are more expensive than mobile homes because there are several factors involved before and after construction. Before you buy a prefab home, you need to purchase land and have all the necessary permits which can add to the overall cost or budget. The price can go slightly higher depending on the level of customization you need for your prefab home. For a mobile home, you only need to pay for the initial purchase and any other necessary permits required by the regulatory authorities. This makes mobile homes relatively affordable compared to prefab or modular homes.

  • Financing

Prefab homes are designed to meet the same standards as site-built homes and therefore, can be financed with a traditional mortgage. Mobile homes are not considered real property and can only be financed with personal loans or chattel mortgages. The interest rates on mortgages for prefab homes will be lower than chattel or personal loans taken to finance mobile homes. Since prefab or modular homes are considered real property, they have more financing options available and have lower down payment requirements compared to mobile homes.

Which housing option is best for you?

A mobile home is ideal for people who live a nomadic lifestyle and occasionally move from one place to another. It is one of the reasons why a mobile home is built on a chassis and wheels to facilitate easier transportation. However, if you are looking for a relatively cheaper alternative to a site-built home, then a prefab or modular home will be the best option for you. It is assembled on a solid foundation and fully inspected after installation to ensure it meets the building standards of a regular home. A prefab home also offers a higher return on investment than mobile homes making them ideal for the long-term.

Prefab homes are not the same as mobile homes because they differ in terms of their mode of construction, quality, cost, ease of customization, and financing. The decision to choose between the two comes down to individual preferences and lifestyle. A mobile home is ideal for people who live a nomadic lifestyle while prefab or modular homes have the same standards as site-built homes but are relatively affordable and take a shorter time to construct.