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The ins and outs of prefab
Want to learn more about prefab homes?
August 14, 2003: 2:27 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - For those interested in finding out more about prefab housing, an industry group provides the following:

What exactly is prefab?

Prefab is a terms that's used pretty loosely. In general, prefabrication describes everything from houses built entirely in a factory to panelized house put together on the housing site.

It's worth noting that some of the prefab homes in our gallery are only prototypes for homes that could be reproduced using prefabrication techniques. Most of these prefab houses are not widely available in the United States.

What's the difference between a manufactured house and mobile home?

A manufactured home is constructed entirely in a controlled factory environment, built to the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (known as the HUD code). "Mobile home" is the term used for factory-built homes produced prior to the introduction of the HUD Code.

How are manufactured homes sold here?

Most are sold through retail sales centers, many of which are independently owned and operated. Others are owned and operated by a manufacturer. In some states, you may also buy from a manufactured home community owner or developer.

Can I put such a house anywhere?

Many cities and towns, still relying on outdated perceptions and stereotypes of "mobile homes," have zoning regulations limiting where you can place a manufactured home. Urban and suburban governments are recognizing that today's manufactured homes are virtually indistinguishable from site-built homes and are allowing them to be placed in their communities. Be sure to check the zoning regulations in the area where you want to live.

The same rules that apply to manufactured homes may not a apply to modular or panelized homes.

Will a manufactured house appreciate in value?

When properly installed and maintained, today's manufactured homes will appreciate the same as surrounding site-built homes.

Is financing the same?

If you are buying the home and land together, or plan to place the home on land you already own, some financial institutions offer traditional real estate mortgages with similar interest rates. If you buy the house separately from the land on which it will be located, the home will probably be financed as a personal property manufactured home loan, usually with a somewhat higher interest rate.

Are manufactured homes more vulnerable to tornado or hurricane damage?

While many like to joke that "mobile homes attract tornadoes," there is no meteorological or scientific basis to thinking that theory. In fact, the explanation for the reports of damage to manufactured homes from tornadoes is quite simple: manufactured housing is largely found in rural and suburban areas where tornadoes are most likely to occur.

In areas prone to hurricane-force winds, the standards for manufactured homes are equivalent to or more stringent than the current regional and national building codes for site-built homes in these high wind zones.

Source: The Manufactured Housing Institute's frequently asked questions with edits and additions from CNN/Money.  Top of page

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