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The History of the Manufactured Home

Humble beginnings, grand endings.

The manufactured home of today is an evolution of style and amenities that has its roots in a history of answering the American public's demand for quality housing at an exceptional value.

In the 1920s, "trailer coaches" were built to serve the American traveler who wanted the ability, when vacationing, of having a ready-made place to sleep at a campsite. During Word War II, these temporary dwellings were used to house factory workers who came from miles around to aid in the war effort.

When the war ended, veterans came home to find affordable housing in short supply. The industry answered this call by building homes that were large enough to house a veteran and his family. However, these homes could still be moved from one location to another to provide the mobility that the family desired.


In the 1960s, American consumers wanted even more out of the industry. The demand was for bigger trailers with more amenities and the new appliances that were rapidly coming on the market. And still, it had to be mobile. History buffs may remember Lucille Ball in the movie, "The Long, Long Trailer."

From this demand was born the mobile home. Mobile homes were bigger in size, nicer in appearance and met the needs of prospective young American homeowners.

In 1974, Congress passed the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act, also known as the HUD Code. This watershed legislation made mobile homes the only form of private and single-family building subject to federal regulation. Even site-built homes did not enjoy such strict regulation. These regulations, which became effective in June of 1976, preempted any existing state or local construction and safety codes applying to the product.

The effect of federal regulation was to more clearly define mobile homes as buildings, rather than vehicles. The Housing Act of 1980 adopted this change officially, mandating the use of "manufactured housing" (factory-built homes) to replace "mobile homes" in all federal law and literature for homes built since 1976.

The manufactured home you see today is truly a home and it bears little resemblance to its 'tin-box' predecessor, the trailer. Often, you may not even recognize a manufactured home - so close is it in design and structure to its site-built counterpart. Thanks to sophisticated production processes and the demands of the consumer, manufactured homes have become a model of efficiency, affordability, and innovative design options.