Main Content



Cut through the confusion: HUD home, or UBC?

Modular, manufactured, mobile home, HUD, UBC….these terms seem to get a bit confusing for buyers. We all know what a mobile home is since they have been around as long as most of us have been alive. An idea caught from the Gypsy wagons of old, mobile homes have been a home option in America since the 1870’s when they were used as movable beach properties.

By the 1920’s these traveling homes were used for camping and vacationing, pulled now by the power of automobile. But after World War II, the large amount of veterans returning from war provided a need for fast, cheap housing. These moveable homes gave quick housing to their families and an ability to move from town to town in search of jobs.

The size of these homes kept growing and by the late 1940’s mobile homes reached lengths of 30 feet and bathrooms were introduced. As the mobile home continued to grow in length and width with the addition of “double wides”, they became less mobile, now more of a quick, cheap form of owning a more stationary home.

The United States Government felt a need to have all homes built to a solid, national standard and in 1976 Congress passed the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety act. In 1980, Congress approved changing the term “mobile home” to “manufactured home”. This term has helped the confusion between HUD and UBC, mobile, manufactured, and modular. We know they are all “manufactured” in a factory, so…what is the difference?

A “manufactured” or commonly called mobile home, though now set on more permanent locations, is any home made in a factory, single or multiple sections, built on a permanent steel frame undercarriage or chassis, with a removable transportation system such as wheels and a hitch. These homes can not leave the factory without a red and silver HUD sticker on every section showing they were built to the standards of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed by Congress in 1976. This sticker may not always be visible, hidden by paint, siding, or even removed but ideally should be left in place as they are not replaceable and can effect future buying,selling, financing and insurance. One thing which always remains on a manufactured home is the steel frame.

Also created in a factory, but built to a completely different standard is the “modular” or UBC home. A modular home is built in a factory using conventional floor joists and are not moved on their own frame.

Modular homes are transported by either a trailer in one or multiple sections where they are then lifted onto a permanent foundation. These homes are not subject to HUD code, they are instead built to the same State and Local Uniform Building Code (UBC) as site built homes. In Colorado, any modular home shipped to or built in the state must be approved by the Colorado Division of Housing. Once approved they get a Factory Built label which is placed under the kitchen sink. On most older homes the label will show the house was built to UBC standards. More recent homes could show they were built to IRC standards. IRC! One more confusing term! Shhhh…don’t worry. IRC (International Residential Code) is nothing more than a new generation UBC. For more information on IRC visit the Energy Star site.

By the 1990’s, just looking at the two homes, it became more difficult to know the difference as both strove to be more appealing to hungry home buyers. Being informed helps buyers ask the right questions when buying their new home. Ask! The differences are important when it comes to financing, location, and taxation.

Before buying a home to place on purchased property, make sure you know the local requirements and don’t depend on only what your salesperson tells you. If buying a home already set in place, knowing if it is a UBC or HUD is important not only for the loan process but also for future maintenance and growth planning.