Modular vs. Manufactured Homes: What’s the Difference?

Construction on both home types begins in factories, but they’re built to different codes.
Abby Badach Doyle
By Abby Badach Doyle 
Updated
Edited by Alice Holbrook

Some or all of the mortgage lenders featured on our site are advertising partners of NerdWallet, but this does not influence our evaluations, lender star ratings or the order in which lenders are listed on the page. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners.

So you want to build a new home — but you’ve got sticker shock. In researching cost-effective options, you may have discovered modular and manufactured homes.

These home types are typically more affordable than traditional new construction, known as “site-built” homes. The Manufactured Housing Institute reports that a manufactured home costs half as much per square foot as a site-built home. For modular builds, a 2017 study by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley estimates construction savings of at least 20%.

Depending on land costs and the model you choose, a new manufactured or modular build might even cost less than the average existing home.

Modular and manufactured homes are both types of prefabricated, or “prefab,” homes. That means they’re built indoors at a factory, then transported to the building site. But just because they both start out in a factory doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

Let’s explore the differences between these two home types.

Mortgage loans from our partners

New American Funding - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on New American Funding

New American Funding

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
500

Min. down payment 
3.5%

Check Rate

on New American Funding

NBKC - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on NBKC

NBKC

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
NBKC - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
3%

Check Rate

on NBKC

Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage

Prosperity Home Mortgage

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
580

Min. down payment 

0%

Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage

Veterans United - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Veterans United

Veterans United

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Veterans United - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
0%

Check Rate

on Veterans United

Better - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Better

Better

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Better - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
3%

Check Rate

on Better

Mortgage loans from our partners

New American Funding - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on New American Funding

New American Funding

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
New American Funding - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
500

Min. down payment 
3.5%

Check Rate

on New American Funding

NBKC - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on NBKC

NBKC

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
NBKC - PURCHASE logo

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
3%

Check Rate

on NBKC

Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage

Prosperity Home Mortgage

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Prosperity Home Mortgage - PURCHASE logo

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
580

Min. down payment 

0%

Check Rate

on Prosperity Home Mortgage