The History of the Manufactured Home

The manufactured home has a rich history of change, yet it has endured to create an affordable housing option throughout the years. Explore the path these functional homes have taken to become what they are today!

Manufactured homes are one of the most evolved, versatile, and enduring home options. While it’s hard to pinpoint the first manufactured home –these homes have been enjoyed for over 100 years. The first prototypes are estimated to have come about in the early 1900s with build your own home kits. Then shortly after, pull behind trailers that hooked up to cars for leisure and travel were the popular pick. Now these incredible homes can be found with attached garages, on permanent foundations with front porches, and up to triple sections in size.

  • 1908: A famous store catalog offers the first prefabricated homes. These homes are sold in ‘kits’ to order, and then the parts are shipped to be built on the buyer’s lot by themselves or hired professionals.
  • 1910 – late 1930s: Manufactured homes are now defined primarily by how they are built. (They are put together in sections in an indoor facility and then transported to a location.) However, another quality of these homes is their mobility, and before 1976 and the HUD code, they weren’t clearly defined by how they were built. For this reason, travel trailers, also known as fifth wheels, were considered as “mobile homes”. During this time, they are mostly used for travel or housing workers.
  • 1950s-60s: Post World War II, “mobile homes” explode in popularity. They allow people to be homeowners for less. Mobile homes make it possible for people to live in close proximity while still having their own space, an important benefit during this time in history.
  • 1976: The HUD Code is created to establish building standards and define what is now called “manufactured” housing.

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  • 1980s: The industry adapts to new terminology of manufactured homes, and a new wave of homes are built to the HUD Code’s regulation.
  • 1997: ENERGY STAR®* offers regional certification to manufactured homes for energy efficiency and sustainability.
  • 2000: The Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 amends the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. Essentially. this aims to improve construction, installation standards and safety for manufactured homes.
  • 2000s-2010: Manufactured homes continue to become more modern and innovative, while maintaining their affordable prices.
  • 2014 – 2019: Manufactured homes rise in value. Based off Census data at this time, manufactured housing on land increases in value on average 40%, while site built homes increase only 33% during the same period.
  • 2021: Manufactured homes continue to make homeownership attainable for Americans. The average cost of a manufactured home is $57 per average price sq. ft. vs. $119 for a site built home.

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We hope you have enjoyed this history and that it helps you learn about and celebrate this housing option. Keep reading with us and bust some myths about manufactured homes.

*ENERGY STAR® and the ENERGY STAR® mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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