Mobile Homes vs Site Built Homes

Perhaps you’re new to the world of home construction, or maybe you’ve recently started looking at other housing options. Either way, if you’re like many folks, some of the terminology may be confusing. So, today we’re going to discuss the differences between “mobile homes” and “site built homes” as well as the pros and cons of each. 


Many of the modern housing terms we use today date back to the years immediately following World War II. The United States was experiencing an economic boom, and families were quickly growing. New housing was needed, and it was needed fast. 

Enter the mobile home. This small, rectangular-shaped home could be quickly driven to where it was needed and moved off wheels and onto a foundation or directly onto the ground. Many Americans started living in mobile homes permanently, while others simply adopted them as temporary shelters while their traditional house was being constructed. 

By the late 1970s, mobile homes were mixed in with other types of housing and communities, necessitating the need for clearer terminology and residential zoning codes. This resulted in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development introducing the term “manufactured home” and amping up use of the term “site built home” for traditionally-constructed houses. And under new regulations, the new mobile homes being set up as long-term residences without actual transportation use were referred to as “manufactured homes”. 

Mobile Homes

Today’s mobile homes or “manufactured homes” are not the flimsy structures of days past. Thanks to stricter codes established in 1976, manufactured homes today are typically built indoors in large-scale facilities with intense standards and quality control. Generally speaking however, all of these homes must both have and meet national safety standards in the following areas:

  • Electrical wiring
  • Body/framing requirements
  • Plumbing
  • Fire safety
  • Thermal protection
  • Anchoring

Most manufactured home companies also offer a range of customization options that vary with each model. These homes generally come at a significantly lower cost than other homes, even when paired with the cost of land. That said, many mobile home owners are able to rent the land they have their home set up on in order to save even more. 

Mobile homes today typically take no more than a few months to construct and then transport to the property. For buyers looking to get a new roof over their heads fast, this is great! 

Site Built Homes

Most homes that you today are traditional site built homes, constructed directly on the land with wood, concrete, and other traditional building materials. However, unlike mobile homes that must meet national standards, regulations can vary greatly for site built homes between states. Generally speaking, however, the requirements are in the following areas:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical/Energy
  • Fire safety
  • Life/resident safety
  • Accessibility
  • Building/structural
  • Mechanical

Site built homes can take several months to even years to construct, though they often end up having a greater property value. 

The Bottom Line

Home buyers looking to choose between mobile homes and site built homes will have to look at their own personal preferences to decided which is the right choice. If speed and efficiency is the goal, for example, a mobile home will have a leg up. Likewise, if long-term investment in value and greater customization options is preferable, a site built home it is. The good news is that both types of homes are subjected to stricter construction standards than ever, so both will be made to last.