“The Associated Press Stylebook provides an A-Z guide to issues such as capitalization, abbreviation, punctuation, spelling, numerals and many other questions,” says Perdue University about the AP Stylebook. Wikipedia says: “The AP Stylebook, also known by its full name The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, is an American English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for or connected with the Associated Press.” The AP Stylebook is considered a go-to guidance for reporters and journalists on terminology, legal, and other issues as it relates to accuracy in reporting. So, what does that AP Stylebook have to do with mobile and manufactured homes? More than someone might think.
From approaching a decade, MHLivingNews has stressed that the terms mobile home and manufactured home are not interchangeable. The AP Stylebook has de facto agreed. In the coming months, AP tells MHLivingNews that they plan to provide specific guidance to their reporters and journalists so that they will do a better job in writing news reports that accurately describe the difference. This could well have a positive impact on the image of mobile and manufactured homes as this information is published and digested by journalists and ultimately, the public.
On 1.19.2022 at 9:25 AM an official with the AP Stylebook sent a message that copied a colleague and was addressed to MHLivingNews publisher L. A. “Tony” Kovach. “Tony, Might you send me a summary of the easy visual clues, as well as the top-lines version and in-depth version. Thanks.” Those clues are a reference to a proposed advisory via the AP Stylebook that would be a guide to reporters and journalists on how to properly describe and define the distinctions between a mobile home and a manufactured home. That request was honored on 2.7.2022 when Kovach sent the requested document with visuals to the AP Stylebook team. Part of their response was as follows. “Tony, Thank you very much. We greatly appreciate all the time and attention that this has involved. And we want to devote a lot of time and attention, too.”
They also said that “We [AP Stylebook] DO want to provide guidance on this topic. We agree it’s important. It’s just not possible in the next couple of months.
We can make it a top priority to begin working on in a month or two, with possible publication online over the summer [of 2022].” Additional insights were shared as to timing, which may be as soon as May 2022. The message drew to a close by saying: “Thank you again. You’ve been extremely helpful.”
Recall that the AP Stylebook previously told MHProNews that no Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) or affiliate had reached out to them about this terminology issue.
That point was confirmed again on 2.8.2022.
MHLivingNews asked AP Stylebook the following.
- If we published this information prior to their planned timeframe, i.e.: perhaps by May or the summer of 2022, would that deter them from using the provided information?
- Also, would they give our platforms the opportunity to review what they plan to provide as guidance to reporters and journalists before they publish it?
Here was their response at 9:23 AM on 2.8.2022.“Tony, All of that makes sense, and yes to all of it. I mean, yes, it’s fine if you publish on your platforms but NO, it wouldn’t deter us from using a version later this year. Understood on all your points and I’d be happy to run it by you when we have something ready, later this year. Thanks…”
With that in mind, here is the information that our platforms (MHLivingNews.com and MHProNews.com) to the AP Stylebook.
Which is it? Visual Clues and Definitions on What is a Mobile Home, What is a Manufactured Home, and Why Does it Matter?
“A manufactured home is not a motor home or a trailer, and although it is often called a “mobile home” it is not that either.” So said the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in research that included an insightful definition that is as important now as when it was first published. Beyond a clever and accurate statement, the NFPA also documented the dramatic improvement in fire safety between the mobile homes of over 45+ years ago compared to the modern HUD Code Manufactured Homes of today.
Contemporary manufactured homes are several times safer than a mobile home, said NFPA research. Manufactured homes are about the same level of safety as the typical conventional ‘site built’ housing, per the NFPA. That’s compelling because the Census Bureau indicates that modern manufactured homes are only about half the construction cost per square foot of a ‘stick built’ house constructed on site.
If picking between a mobile home and a manufactured home, NFPA said: “CHOOSE a home built after [June 15] 1976 that has the HUD label certifying that it meets certain minimum safety standards.” The NFPA noted that manufactured homes come with smoke detectors and several other safety features often not found in older mobile homes.
Words and definitions matter in several ways that include legal, valuations, available financing, consumer safeguards and more.
While it is common to think the terms “mobile home” and “manufactured homes” are interchangeable, legally they are not describing the same. “The terminology [about housing] matters, because the terminology defines the construction standard.” So said Steve Duke, J.D., with Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association (LMHA) to Mobile and Manufactured Home Living News (MHLivingNews.com).
That said, the AP Stylebook and others are wise to seek a simple way of identifying the difference between a mobile and manufactured home. This article will provide information based on the facts about those differences.
This will rely first on visual clues from the exterior of the home, which media, public officials, and the home shopping public can quickly learn and use. Let’s note this simple but surprising to many fact. In the United States, there have been no mobile homes built since June 15, 1976. Homes produced prior to that 6.15.1976 date are legally “mobile homes,” even if they were built to the same construction standards as a manufactured home.
Evidence and two visual clues are useful on over 80 percent of all mobile and manufactured homes in determining ‘which type of prefab housing built on a frame is it.’
- It should be noted that manufactured homes make up some 80 percent of all such factory-built houses.
- While a consumer might remove a red HUD label, that is not common. It is in the homeowners best interest to keep that red HUD label on their home, because it is the best evidence that a home is a manufactured home instead of a mobile home.
While not all mobile homes had jalousie or crank out style windows, they were common. So, when an older structure has such crank out or jalousie windows, it is a safe bet that the home is a mobile home. These types of windows were prohibited for HUD Code manufactured homes due to safety exit concerns. All manufactured homes have mandated safety exit windows.
Interior Evidence that a Factory-Built Home on a frame is a Manufactured Home.
Interior evidence of a manufactured home (vs. a mobile home) is the following official HUD mandated documentation. This is deemed by HUD to be the HUD Code manufactured home “Data Plate.” This is a single page-sized piece of paper commonly attached to a master bedroom closet wall or found placed inside a kitchen or utility room cabinet.
Reliability of these Clues on What Type of Prefab Home is It? A Mobile Home or a Manufactured Home?
While it is technically possible that someone could steal a HUD label (the red HUD tag placed on the tail end of a home or section of a home), a HUD data plate (image above), or otherwise ‘fake’ a mobile home, the odds of that occurring would be low. But to account for that possibility in a report, a simple statement could be made.
- The red HUD exterior tag indicated that the factory-built home in question is a manufactured home.
- The presence of the HUD date plate inside the home apparently confirmed that the home is a manufactured home.
- The presence of crank out “jalousie” windows and the absence of a red HUD mandated exterior tag on manufactured homes indicate that the prefab house in question is a mobile home.
Note the HUD data plate description includes the serial number, producer of the home, the address of the plant that built the home, original appliances, serial numbers, the home’s energy and wind-zone information too.
Beyond factual accuracy, which the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Professional Conduct calls for from reporters and journalists, there are other reasons the terminology and these details matters.
Financing is easier for a HUD Code Manufactured home than for a mobile home.
Federal laws exist that if properly understood and applied would result in more affordable lending and a higher percentage of affordable home ownership. Understanding the facts about laws like the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA) and its so-called “enhanced preemption” issue could unlock solutions to millions of affordable home seekers.
Manufactured homes qualify for a range of federal and state lending.
It’s tragic that the owners of manufactured housing (a.k.a. manufactured homes, HUD Code homes) are made to feel like second class citizens. Canada, England, and Australia have their own versions of manufactured homes. Factory building is becoming more common in parts of Europe and Japan, among other regions and nations. But these terms are only applicable in the U.S.
Some visuals that illustrate the differences between trailer houses, mobile homes, and manufactured homes are as follows.
Notes: the presence of vinyl siding or a shingled roof ARE NOT necessarily an indication of a prefab or factory-built housing unit being a mobile or manufactured homes. A manufactured home, and some mobile homes, could be single section or multi-sectional. The terminology single wide or double wide applies to mobile homes. But for manufactured homes, the proper terminology would be single sectional or multi-sectional.
More formal definitions of mobile homes, manufactured homes, and modular homes are as follows.
Both of the homes shown below are single sectional, but the top one is a mobile home, the second is the interior photo of a modern manufactured home.
Additional information to resources on manufactured home data and third-party research are found at the links below.
Provided to the AP Stylebook team by L.A. “Tony” Kovach on behalf of MHProNews.com and MHLivingNews.com. ##
Additional Information, Plus Focused MHLivingNews Commentary
MHLivingNews takes a realistic view of the problems and positives that exist in the manufactured home living arena. For instance, there are ‘white hat’ as well as ‘black hat’ or predatory brands that operate in the industry. But that is true in other professions too.
The largest known online compilation of research information by third parties is found in the report linked below.
To learn more, see the linked reports. MHLivingNews looks forward to the final product that the AP Stylebook provides as guidance to mainstream reporters and journalists on properly identifying the differences between a manufactured home and a mobile home in news reports. During an affordable housing crisis, so long as new buyers avoid doing business with the wrong firm, and existing affordable homeowners begin to grasp their legal rights and seek their enforcement, the job of authentic journalism will be rewardingly fulfilled. ##
We lay out the facts and insights that others can’t or won’t provide. That’s what makes our sister site and this location the runaway leaders for authentic information about affordable housing in general, the politics behind the problems, and manufactured homes specifically. That’s a wrap on this installment of “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
Recent and Related Reports:
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.