Manufactured housing Definitions

Mobile Homes

In Tennessee a “Mobile Home” is a structure manufactured prior to June 15, 1976, that was not required to be constructed in accordance with the National Manufactured Housing Construction in Safety Standards Act.

Manufactured Homes

Manufactured homes are built in a factory under a federal building standard administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (commonly known as the HUD Code) went into effect June 15, 1976. These standards regulate the manufactured home design and construction, strength and durability, fire resistance, energy efficiency and quality. The HUD Code also sets performance standards for the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, thermal and electrical systems. It is the only federally-regulated national building code for residential dwellings.


While Modular homes are also built in a factory, these structures use building techniques which must comply with local or state home-building codes, the same standards set forth for site-built homes. Modular homes are designated as ‘real property’ and are appraised, taxed and regulated differently than their manufactured housing counterparts.

How can you tell the difference?

Two terms you may hear when considering modular home foundations are on-frame and off-frame.  On-frame modular homes have a permanent steel-beam chassis.  Off-frame modular homes are lifted by a crane off the transportation carrier and placed on a foundation.  Both can be placed on permanent foundations.  

The only definitive way to tell the difference between a HUD code or a modular is the labeling. The State of Tennessee, Department of Commerce & Insurance, denotes ALL modular homes with a green certification label, regardless if the structure is on-frame or off-frame.  The building code denotes the structure type, and not the presence of a frame.   

Someone may tell you that there are tricks to the trade, such as if there is a chassis then it is a HUD code home. This is not necessarily true. Some modulars are built on a metal frame and some HUD code homes built in the 1980s do not have a metal frame. So be sure to check the labels, because looks can be deceiving.

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