It is an unfortunate misunderstanding of the terms, from the home salesman on the lot, to the owner, to many Realtors. The two terms, modular and manufactured, are NOT interchangeable. They are built to entirely different building codes, and have entirely different values. 

Key identifiers:

1. There is no metal frame under a modular. There is under manufactured. Frame being metal I-beam or steel floor supports.

2. Serial/Identification numbers on a placard attached to each side, stating compliance with Manufactured Home guidelines or code, with supporting documentation of a data sheet posted inside home.

3. Perimeter support for modular, pier and tie down for manufactured. However, placing a manufactured on a perimeter foundation does not change the type of housing it is.

4. Building additions all around it does not change the fact it is still manufactured, pay attention to varying floor heights (such as “stepping up” into the manufactured portion).

5. Have a good look at plumbing fixtures, electrical switches, furnaces and windows. Plumbing fixtures can have different than standard size hole patterns for faucets. Electric has receptacle and switch differences, the boxes are shallower, the switches and receptacles are smaller than standard. Furnace specifications are lesser, they can power vent exhaust and often utilize wall furnaces. Because walls all not required to be built as thick as stick built, window frames are small in thickness, as are door  and door frames. 

BE PRO-ACTIVE! Find evidence, or have your realtor, of type of construction. Do not rely solely on listing sheets, tax assessments, or seller information. While I do not believe they would falsely try to deceive you, I do believe they honestly just do not know. That can cost you big bucks. I have many examples of upset sellers and realtors when we reveal their home, that they paid a premium for, is not a stick built home, NOR IS IT A MODULAR, it is a manufactured. It can be a substantial loss to you if you buy it as a stick built and you go to sell, refi, remodel or make modifications and it is revealed it is a manufactured.


While manufactured homes are financeable, some conditions make them un-financeable. My definition of finance is reasonable/market interest rate as stick built, 30 year term, no balloon. (I don’t consider 10-15% on a ten year note with a balloon financeable) Conditions that must apply are:

1. Size – most single wides are only financeable by original seller (Sales Lot)

2. Age – Can not be older than a certain year, depends on current underwriting guidelines.

3. Original Location – Must have been delivered from the manufacturer to this site.

4. Engineered and certified tie-down – Must be anchored by manufacturers specs of attachment to poured footers and pier system, and certified by an Engineering firm that it does in fact meet those specs.

5. Most always surrender of title. Manufactured housing is not deeded, it is titled like a car. It is personal property not real estate. It is mobile, it is delivered with axles and is intended to be mobile. When the above criteria has been met, most always the bank requires surrender of title to convert it from “vehicular” to real estate. It is securing the banks interest that a owner will not take title and sell the collaterally held asset without filing or clearance of lien at courthouse. It effectively attaches it to the property.


Methods of Identification and Verification


  • Located on the HUD Data Plate/Compliance Certificate located inside of home.

  • Located on the Name Plate/Logo attached to the exterior front or entry door side of home.

YEAR OF MANUFACTURE (Not the Model Year )

  • Located on the HUD Data Plate/Compliance Certificate located inside of home.

  • Located on date stamp found inside the water tank of a bath toilet. ( This method can be used to estimate the year home was built)


A single-wide listed as a 18’ x 80’ ( i.e. Call Size ) may actually be 16’ x 77’, with a 3’ hitch assembly and 1’ roof eaves on either side.

  • You can measure the width and length of the structure along the exterior perimeter at the floor level ( i.e. Floor Size ).

  • Do not include the hitch or roof eaves in this measurement.


The HUD Title 6 Construction Standards Regulation is a “Performance Code” effective on June 15, 1976. All manufactured homes built on or after the above date must be designed to comply with standards as evidenced by a red metal label located on the outside of each unit/floor. These standards are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Washington DC, through a network of state agencies (SAA’s) and independent 3rd party professional engineering firms (PE’s).

This code supersedes all local and state building codes. A HUD coded manufactured home structure can be offered for sale in any state. The removal of its HUD label(s), wheels, axles or frame will not qualify the structure as a modular home or real property. The removal of its HUD label(s) or frame is illegal as per the HUD Title 6 Regulations.


This metal certification label (red in color with silver lettering) is permanently attached to the rear exterior siding of each transportable section per HUD Title VI Regulations effective 6/15/76.

Missing Construction Code Label
HUD does not offer replacement labels from their offices. However, upon request from an interested party, the national monitoring contractor, Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS), will review their records and indicate that, at the time of manufacture the home was issued a HUD label number(s). The interested party has the option to use this information in any manner they wish. This applies to homes manufactured from June 15, 1976 and newer only.

The serial number for each floor section is required for request.

You may need the label for:

  • Loans

  • Sale

  • Insurance

  • Relocation

  • Appraisal

  • Utility Connections

  • Zoning Inspections

505 Huntmar Park Drive
Suite 250
Herndon, VA 20170
(703) 481-2010


Modular homes are built to the International Residential Code (also known as the IRC), for one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses. (With one exception, Wisconsin wrote their own state code for dwellings)

Commercial (non-dwelling) buildings, including modular’s, must be built to the International Building Code, (also known as the IBC); used in all fifty states.

There is no such code as the “National Uniform Code”. Never has been. The UBC stands for “Uniform Building Code”, and is not used anywhere in the US any more. Perhaps you were thinking of the code bodies that existed prior to the origination of the IBC. The three major organizations consisted of the BOCA National Building Code (published by the Building Officials and Code Administrators), and mostly adopted in the Midwest and eastern states; the UBC or Uniform Building Code, adopted mostly in the western states; and the Southern Building Code or SBCCI (for Southern Building Code Congress International) which was used primarily in the southern states. These three code bodies combined and formed the current International Code Council, which is used exclusively throughout the United States.

You state that the building code is “specification code”. This is incorrect. Both the IRC & IBC are known as “prescriptive” codes, that is they detail exactly how something is to be done. Codes which are not prescriptive are known as “performance” codes. A Performance Code will set objectives as to what is to be achieved and its up to the designer as how to achieve the end result.

A good example would be to compare the use of Braced Walls from section 602.10 of the IRC, in which the exact method of how to build the home to resist both wind and seismic forces is detailed, compared to Section 301.1.1, which references the IBC and one of three other standards which sets out the end result and allows the designer the ability to decide how to achieve that result.


Modular labels are sometimes attached under the kitchen sink. Modular type units WILL NOT have the red HUD label attached on the rear exterior siding.  Some manufacturers will also use the HUD data plate form, but it will list the STATE’S MODULAR CODE in place of the DAPIA CODE.

Most states will require the use of a state label, and are normally located at the electrical panel, under the kitchen sink or inside a bedroom closet. Many states require a separate label on each module of a home. The information on the data plate is specified by state regulations and is usually located at the same location as the state label. In addition, several states require a Third-Party Inspection agency label also be attached to the home along with the state label.


The location of the serial number is specified in section 3280.6. It is prohibited to be stamped into the hitch (removable). Specifically it reads “Numbers must not be stamped into hitch assembly or drawbar.”

The federal standards require the serial number to be stamped into the front cross-member; and is always located directly opposite the point where one of the main rail’s attach to the back side of that crossmenber. (The reason being, when you stamp a number into a flexible steel frame part it tends to bounce, causing a weak and sometimes double stamp. The floor crew will always use the location reference because it’s much more rigid and provides a better place to stamp the letters and numbers.

As there is no frame under a modular, the only place one can find a serial number is on the home’s data plate


Not quite correct. Section 3280.5 reads “Each manufactured home shall bear a data plate affixed in a permanent manner near the main electrical panel or other readily accessible and visible location.” A HUD guideline requires that if the data plate is not located at the panelbox, that a label be placed referencing its actual location.

No size is specified and it can be of any size. The information on it must be permanent in nature and sealed with a plastic sheet (if paper) to prevent erasure or destruction of information.

It very important that an agent look for the data plate (and certification labels) before signing any paperwork, because if either is missing, it can take weeks and a couple of hundred to replace. (I get calls several times a years asking for assistance in locating a replacement certification label, data plate or just where to find a serial number of an older manufactured home. Without a data plate, it become (in many cases) impossible as the foundation now blocks the front cross member.

The information actually required to be included on the data plate, is:

  • Name & address of the manufacturing plant where home was manufactured (many corporations have several plants in different states).

  • Serial number, model designation and date manufactured,

  • Specific wordings,

  • List of the certification label attached to each section,

  • List of factory-installed major appliances,
    Reference to the roof-load zone, and wind-zone maps, and

  • The name of the DAPIA (Design Approval, Primary Inspection Agency, the agency which approved the design).

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