Factory-built homes encompass a wide range of housing types—from manufactured homes that are built entirely in production facilities, to modular housing that is transported in pieces and assembled on-site. The design and safety of manufactured homes has improved over the years, as factory-built homes have become more durable and aesthetically pleasing than their mobile predecessors and are able to fit more harmoniously with the character of existing neighborhoods.

While today’s factory-built homes are easily mistakable for site-built homes, their standardized design and components allow for a lower cost of production, making them a more affordable homeownership option. The cost savings can be substantial. For example, in 2008, the average sales price of a new, average-sized factory-built home was $64,900, while a new single-family site-built home of average size (excluding land) cost $217,744.

While some municipal zoning ordinances permit factory-built homes, there are a number of changes that can make the use of factory-built homes more feasible. Allowing factory-built homes in all residential districts, rather than just mobile home parks or special districts, is an important step to creating a more inclusive zoning code. Zoning districts that allow factory-built homes are often few in number and confine manufactured housing to less desirable locations, leading to a concentration of low-income residents in these areas.

The promotion of factory-build homes will likely require community education and outreach, and a careful emphasis on design may be important in overcoming negative perceptions of manufactured housing.

Case Studies

Noji Gardens (Seattle)

Noji Gardens is a development of 75 affordable homes four miles from downtown Seattle. It was built by HomeSight, a community development corporation. The development includes 51, two-story manufactured homes and 24 traditional, site-built homes, and was the first of its kind to introduce the two-story single-family manufactured home. The organization was assisted by local architects to ensure that the appearance of the manufactured homes matched the community’s expectations.

Over the course of a three-year research and planning process, HomeSight engaged with neighborhood councils and ensured the same quality of materials and workmanship went into the manufactured homes as their site-built homes. The development officially opened in March of 2000 and was finished in December 2002. By 2003, all homes had been purchased, the majority of which are affordable for families earning 60 to 80 percent of area median income. Affordability was made possible largely by the 15 percent cost reduction of using factory-built homes. Additionally, HomeSight was able to convert titles to these homes from personal property to real property by securing the units to a permanent foundation. HomeSight has continued to use factory-built homes in more recent developments, such as Kokanee Creek homes in Everett, Wash.

For More Info:

Uche Okezie, HomeSight
Email: [email protected]