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What is a manufactured home and how does it differ from a modular home?

A manufactured home (also known as a mobile home) is a single or multi-sectional home built on a permanent frame, like a steel undercarriage/chassis, with a removable transportation system (hitch and wheels). The unit is permanently attached to a site-built foundation and is subject to the 1976 federal standards established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

A modular home is constructed in a factory using conventional home floor joists and delivered to a site on a trailer or flat bed truck. The delivered home may be in the form of panels that are assembled at the site, may be pre-cut and assembled on site, or may be pre-built and delivered in one piece. The home, panels or pre-cut panels are lifted from the trailer and attached to a foundation. A modular home may be single or multi-storied. Modular homes are not subject to HUD standards, but must be built to state and local Uniform Building Codes.

Homeowners, please consider this:                                  Protect your investment by making sure your contractor is registered and obtains all permits,inspections and approvals required by law. The lack of a permit, inspection, and approval could affect the safety of your home, yourability to obtain home financing, and your ability to obtain insurance or collect on insurance claims. A permit, inspection and approval will ensure that the work done on your home conforms with current manufactured/mobile-home safety codes.  Even if the title has been eliminated on your manufactured/mobile home, alterations still require a permit, inspection, and approval by the Department of Labor  Industries. If you are having a new manufactured home placed, be sure that your registered contractor employs a Certified Installer. You can verify an installer’s certification online at or by calling 1-800-647-0982.                                                    

Registered contractors, before you begin an alteration job, please consider this:  You must purchase alteration permits and haveall alterations approved, as required by law. You could face a fine of up to $1,000 or an audit for failing to obtain a permit before beginningan alteration job. Each day and each location on which a violation occurs constitutes a separate violation. Additional penalties can be levied for failure to correct any violations noted during an alteration inspection.

Problems? Complaints? Contact L&I’s Consumer Assistance Program: If you own a new manufactured home, we can help you work with the manufacturer or dealer to correct defects in the home. Call us today! 253-927-5935

What homeowners and contractors should know when altering a home

Why does L&I require permits and inspections? Think of L&I as Washington’s “building department” for all factory-built structures in the state. Statewide consistency allows the industry to meet one standard and work with one entity rather than 39 different counties and multiple city jurisdictions. Since 1968, L&I has been responsible for inspections of recreational vehicles, commercial coaches, modular buildings and mobile homes, manufactured housing,park trailers, vendor/medical units and temporary housing.


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