What Is a Manufactured Home?

Definition & Examples of Mobile Home Data Plates

Manufactured home
••• © Big Stock Photo

Manufactured homes are homes built in a factory according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards that were passed in 1976. They are built on a steel chassis and transported to the homeowner's building site, rather than being built on a foundation on location.

Each home must conform to the U.S. government's Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD code), rather than to building codes enforced at the home's destination. To confirm this, it will come with a certificate, called a "data plate," with all of its construction information. Learn more about manufactured homes and how to confirm they were properly built.

What Is a Manufactured Home?

Manufactured homes are simply homes that were built in a factory rather than at the home's final location. Older manufactured homes were called mobile homes because they were built on wheels and could be transported. However, this term has fallen out of use since the HUD implemented its modern standards for manufactured home construction on June 15, 1976.

The HUD regulations cover design, construction, materials, building strength, energy efficiency, appliances, systems, and more. These standards have been updated several times, most recently in the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.

Once a home is constructed according to these standards, it can be purchased and transported to its final site for assembly and installation.

What Is a Manufactured Home Data Plate?

Each home or segment of a home is labeled on the outside with a red "HUD label," which is the manufacturer's guarantee the home was built to conform to the HUD code. There will also be a "data plate," which is actually a detailed paper certificate with full manufacturing information, inside the home. It's usually located on the main electrical panel, inside a kitchen cabinet, or in a bedroom closet.

The manufactured home's data plate will show details including where it was constructed, its serial number and manufacturing date, a list of factory-installed equipment, and a map of the U.S. with information about the type of climate and load for which it was designed.

  • Alternate name: Mobile home data plate

How a Manufactured Home Data Plate Works

The data plate, along with the HUD label, is required to certify that a manufactured home was built according to HUD standards. If a manufactured home was built after June 1, 1976, it must have this information. Mobile homes built before that date cannot have these certificates, even if they have been updated.

If you are planning to purchase a manufactured home, always ensure it has a HUD plate on the outside of the building, and a data plate inside.

If the Data Plate Is Missing

Sometimes people might remove the date plate in your manufactured home. If the data plate is missing, you might be able to order a replacement from the Institute of Building Technology and Safety. The IBTS is a nonprofit established to provide unbiased building code compliance and assistance to government agencies and on behalf of the federal government.

This service can provide you with a label verification letter or a Performance Verification Certificate, depending on your needs. It cannot find data plate information for manufactured homes built prior to 1976, and there is a fee for this service.

Frequently Asked Questions About Manufactured Homes

If you've never lived in a manufactured home, you may have a lot of questions about owning one. Here are a few of the most common ones.

May I Put My Manufactured Home on Any Lot or Tract of Land?

No. Some communities and developments do not allow manufactured housing. Research local zoning ordinances, deed restrictions, restrictive covenants, and other similar documents before purchasing land for a manufactured home. You can find this information at your city zoning office.

May I Move My Manufactured Home to Another Location? 

Yes, but make sure you use a transport company that is familiar with the laws for moving such structures. You should also consider the type of zone or climate for which the manufactured home was originally constructed. Climate differences and the cost of moving your manufactured home might make it more practical to sell it and purchase another at your new location.

Never move a manufactured home to a zone with more restrictive wind, thermal, or roof load requirements than the zone for which it was built. Check the data plate for zoning information.

Who Will Finance My Manufactured Home? 

Many manufactured homes are financed with a retail installment contract, available through the retailer that sells you the home. Some lenders will grant a conventional mortgage for manufactured homes, but they will likely require that the home be placed on a permanent foundation. Manufactured homes are eligible for FHA and VA home loans. 

Is My New Manufactured Home Covered by a Warranty? 

Most manufacturers offer a warranty that covers the home and its systems during a stated warranty period. Some appliances may be covered by their own warranties. Before you purchase a manufactured home, find out which items are covered by warranty, who offers the warranty, and how warranty repairs are performed.

What If I Encounter Problems With My Manufactured Home? 

HUD recommends that you first contact the retailer who sold you the home. This is why you might want to make sure you purchase your manufactured home from a reliable and well-respected retailer. If problems cannot be resolved, contact the manufacturer. If you still have complaints or concerns, contact HUD or a related state agency.

Key Takeaways

  • Manufactured homes are built in a factory and then moved to their final site for assembly and installation.
  • Since 1976, these homes have been constructed according to strict federal government standards.
  • Each manufactured home built since 1976 will have a data plate with all details about its manufacturing and certification inside.

Article Sources

  1. Mobile Home Living. "Manufactured Home Facts Everyone Should Know." Accessed June 30, 2020.

  2. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. "Manufactured Housing and Standards." Accessed June 30, 2020.

  3. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Hud Labels (Tags)." Accessed June 30, 2020.

  4. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Manufactured Housing and Standards—Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed June 30, 2020.

  5. Mobile Home Living. "Manufactured Home HUD Tags, Labels, Serial Numbers, and Data Plates." Accessed June 30, 2020.

  6. FDIC. "Manufactured Home Mortgage." Accessed June 30, 2020.

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Purchase Loan." Accessed June 30, 2020.