Doing a home makeover – Part 1

There has been a quiet trend in housing that deserves study. When times get tough, more people try to find ways to save money. So it is no surprise that the sale of new and pre-owned mobile homes and manufactured housing has been rising. Some of those who are buying bargain homes that were built in a factory are doing partial or total home make-overs. They often end up with gorgeous homes that cost a fraction of the cost that regular conventional housing does.

We will only get started on this topic in this column today, but want to share some key thoughts to keep in mind if you are thinking about updating your home, or buying a bargain house and doing a make-over.

In some parts of the country, you may find older mobile homes built in the 1960s for sale that may cost as little as $500 or less. Google the words “mobile home makeover pictures.” You will see photos of some homes that started out rough and ugly, that were turned into “dream homes.” But there are some cautions you or your friends should consider before getting started.

The difference between a mobile home and a manufactured home is important to know in this and other discussions. Too many get the two terms mixed up, and legally they are NOT the same thing! You’ll see the importance in the facts that follow.


(Photo courtesy of Professor HMS, on Flickr Creative Commons)

A manufactured home is a factory built home that was built to the federal manufactured home building standards known as the “the HUD Code” that went into effect on June 15, 1976. By law, any home built in a factory on a moveable frame that was built to this code is legally a manufactured home.

Before June 15, 1976, a home on a movable frame is  a mobile home. So it has been over 35 years since any mobile homes have been built!

What if you don’t know what year a home was built? Can you still tell if it is a mobile or manufactured home? Yes.

If you notice near the right hand side of this photo , there is a red label. That label is the HUD Code building label or seal. That is easy to spot on the outside of the home. That red HUD label means this home is a manufactured home. So the photo above is NOT of a mobile home!

hud-code-label-posted-on-mh-living-news-comHUD Code Manufactured Home Label
(photo credit
 So a home in a frame that is built before June 15, 1976 can legally be called a ‘mobile home.’ But a home built since that date to the HUD Code is a manufactured home.

There are reasons its important to know the difference. Prior to the federal HUD building code for manufactured homes, there were no uniform standards on mobile homes for features such as:

  • Circuit breakers vs. fuses;
  • Copper vs. aluminum wiring;
  • Insulation levels;
  • The strength and type of framing being used;
  • And much more.

A manufactured home will be copper wiring, will have circuit breakers and not fuses, and will have established levels of insulation for energy efficiency. Some ‘pre-HUD Code mobile homes will have those features too, but not all will.


(photo credit modmom-blogspot)

So before you begin a makeover project, you will want to get a good idea if you are dealing with a manufactured home or a mobile home. If it is a mobile home, how was it built? You will want to consider the possible need for and cost of new wiring and insulation – among other expenses – before you jump into a mobile home remodeling job.

An architect took a $500 mobile home – that looked rough! – and did an ‘extreme makeover.’ The home now looks absolutely stunning, a beautifully modem, updated home!

Others are doing the same in different parts of the country.

The proper TLC on any home is a great idea. When you have a home that is more affordable to begin with, a smart makeover project can give you the maximum beauty and value for your dollars.##

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