Clayton Blog

A Brief History of Modular Homes and How Modular Construction Began

What separates modular homes from manufactured homes, you may ask? Similar to a manufactured home, a modular home is built with strength and durability in a climate controlled home building facility that uses efficient processes and high quality materials.


The biggest difference between the two types of homes is that modular homes are built to local and state codes rather than HUD Code like manufactured homes. 


To better understand the difference between manufactured and modular homes, it’s helpful to take a look at a brief history of how the modular housing industry came to be!


1908 Brings Kit Homes


In the mid-19th century, Richard Sears began selling his products through the first catalog known to the public.


He used catchy phrases and customer testimonials to tell readers that Sears Roebuck and Company had the cheapest prices for high-value products. Everything from sewing machines to saddles could be found within the confines of the paper catalogs!


SearsCatalog.jpgPicture from Wikipedia Commons


At the turn of the 20th century, Sears began to see an opportunity to sell more than just finished goods. In 1908, the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalog began selling ‘kit homes.’


SearsHomeKit.jpgPicture from Wikipedia Commons


The idea was so simple and genius! They would sell the materials as a whole and provide the directions to construct the home so families could get everything in one place. It was a key precursor to modular and manufactured homes.


Introduction of the Assembly Line


With the help of Richard Sears’s ingenious advertising techniques and the introduction of the assembly line by Henry Ford in 1913, manufactured homes began to surface as a housing possibility for the general public.


Ford Manufacturing.jpgPhoto from Hemmings Daily


Assembly line innovations allowed for home builders like Gunnison Housing Corporation and Lustron Corporation to take off creating prefabricated homes in building facilities for the masses.


Post-World War II Prefab Growth


It wasn’t until after World War II in the 1950s that these prefabricated homes grew in popularity. To home building companies, constructing parts or sections of homes in a facility was  a profitable and efficient way to meet the housing demands that rose during this time, so they jumped on the opportunity!


Mobile Home Park-1.jpgPhoto by New York Housing Association


Builders quickly recognized the opportunity to build entire homes, not just prefabricated walls, in facilities. But as baby boomers began to enter the mix, families needed larger homes to accommodate  their growing size and needs.


1958 Brings Modular Housing's Birth


These growing needs are what caused the modular homes industry to boom! In 1958, the first double wide home was constructed to a local building code, and thus the modular housing industry was born!

For the following years, manufactured homes and modular homes continued to compete to become the best in efficient home building.


With the help of technological advances and specifically, Computer-Assisted Design (CAD) Programs, modular homes have only improved!


58CLA32683BM Final Rendering 2.jpgThe Oakwood model by Schult


Today, many new modular and manufactured homes are virtually indistinguishable. In fact, we have the manufactured home industry to thank for the invention of modular housing!


Check Out Clayton Modular Homes!


Topics Modular Housing