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A Complete Guide to Manufactured Home Terms: Your Mobile Home Glossary


Before embarking on your home buying journey, you will want to have as much knowledge in your pocket as possible so that you can make the smart decision for you and your family.  Understanding manufactured home terms will be especially helpful if you’re looking for a new manufactured or modular home. The prefabricated housing industry can be a little different than the site built housing industry, and you could easily encounter terms you’ve never heard before.


Since it can be difficult to find a manufactured home glossary online, we have created our own! Take a look at this ultimate guide to manufactured and modular home terms.


Prefabricated Home Building Terms

mobile home construction

Some of the most confusing or new words for home buyers are words related to the prefabricated building process. Check out these prefabricated home building terms that you may hear or read as you learn about manufactured and modular homes.


Data Plate

The data plate is a sheet of paper inside the manufactured home and can often be found in a kitchen cabinet, electrical panel or bedroom closet. The data plate contains information about the home such as the name and address of the manufacturer, the serial number and home model, the date the home was built, verification the home meets HUD standards and more.1


HUD Code

The HUD Code is the building standard that manufactured home builders must meet. It includes guidelines such as frame requirements, thermal protection, plumbing, electrical and more It was put in place in 1976 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that manages the code and oversees enforcement.2


Also referred to as the certification label, all manufactured homes built and sold must be labeled with a HUD tag that ensures the homeowner that the home was built according to HUD’s Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards.2

Mobile Home Tongue Hitch

Associated with moving a mobile home, the tongue, or hitch, of a mobile home is attached at the front of the manufactured home to the steel chassis and is used to transport to home from one destination to the next.3


Mobile Home Undercarriage

The undercarriage of a mobile home is the bottom of the home that protects the home insulation and keeps out moisture and pests. The undercarriage is often referred to by several different names such as manufactured home vapor barrier, mobile home belly, mobile home belly board, underbelly, bottom board and more. There are other parts under a manufactured home that may also be called the vapor barrier, but the undercarriage generally refers to the layer under the home that protects the insulation.


Just like on-frame, off-frame refers to a type of modular home. Off-frame modular homes are removed from the steel chassis and lifted by a crane off the transportation carrier to be placed on a foundation.


Modular homes are built to local and state building codes, unlike manufactured homes built to HUD code. On-frame modular homes have a steel chassis that remains permanently with the home.

Permanently Affixed to Land

A home is permanently affixed to land when it is permanently resting on the base, or foundation, of the home.4 If a home is permanently affixed to land, it may be eligible to be converted from personal property to real property. Different states have different rules that apply, and the process varies, but typically it involves surrendering the original title and providing documentation to the local land recorder that the home has become a real estate fixture.


Pier and Beam

A type of manufactured home foundation, the pier and beam system is the most popular manufactured home foundation system. Anchors are driven into the ground to hold your home down and then steel straps are attached. These steel straps connect to the main I-beam on the home’s steel frame.

Truss System

The manufactured home roof frame is called the truss system. This system, made of a wood frame, is the base structure of your manufactured home roof, and it is where roof insulation will be placed. Shingles cover the top of the truss system.


Home Buying Terms

home buying process

Learning the different home buying terms can be confusing, but understanding common terms you may hear during the manufactured or modular home buying process can help! Check out different terms you may hear through the home buying process and become a smart, empowered home buyer.

Mobile Home and Manufactured Home

Often used interchangeably by the public, these two types of homes are actually different. Mobile home refers to a prefabricated home built prior to 1976 when HUD Code was put into place. Manufactured homes are homes built after 1976 in compliance with the HUD Code.


Mobile Home Trade-in

Many home buyers often wonder, “what is a mobile home trade-in?” If you are a homeowner, you may be able to exchange your current manufactured home at your local home center for credit toward a new manufactured home. If you are in the market for a home and you purchase a pre-owned manufactured home, you may be buying a home that was part of a mobile home trade-in.


Double wide and triple wide homes can also be referred to as multi-section manufactured homes. Multi-section homes have larger, more varying dimensions than a single-section home and are often delivered in two or three sections that are joined together at the home site.


NADA Guide

National Appraisal Guides, Inc. is the largest source for information regarding pricing, tools and value of belongings such as boats, automobiles, motorcycles and manufactured homes. You can use their guides to estimate the current value of your manufactured home.
Single-section – Also referred to by some people as a single wide trailer, single-section manufactured homes range in size from 784 sq. ft. to 1,440 sq. ft., which is about 14’56’ to 18’X80’ in dimensions.


Manufactured Home Financing Terms

mobile home financing

Often one of the most confusing parts of the process, obtaining home financing can be complex and financing terms can be tricky to understand. However, by understanding these key terms, you can better understand your financing options to make the best choice for you and your family.



A mortgage is a loan used to buy a home or to borrow money against the value of a home you already own. As part of the agreement the lender the right to take the property if you fail to repay the money you've borrowed plus interest.

Chattel Loan

When buying a manufactured home, home buyers often hear the term chattel loan. This type of loan is a loan extended to an individual on a personal, movable piece of property. The loan is secured by the personal piece of property.

Personal Property

Property consisting of things that are temporary or movable and that are not considered real estate.

Down Payment

The amount of money you spend upfront to purchase a home is a down payment, and is typically combined with a loan to complete the total purchase cost of a home.5 This is different from a home deposit made at your local home center.


Mortgage escrow, also called an impound account, is a process where additional funds are collected with your mortgage payments. The additional funds are used toward payments such as property taxes and home insurance premiums.


Home Deposit

This is money put toward a home that you intend to purchase at your local home center to secure a home model.


Although manufactured housing has changed over the years, it is important to stay up to date with different important mobile home terms. By understanding them, you can make smart home purchases that fit your specific needs and budget. Then, you can Have it made® in the perfect manufactured or modular home that you can enjoy for years to come!



Read The History of Manufactured Homes






1. "HUD Labels (Tags)." Accessed March 05, 2018. https://www.hud.g/program_offices/housing/rmra/mhs/mhslabels.
2. "Homeowner's Fact Sheet." Accessed March 05, 2018.
3. "Terminology Tuesday - Hitch." Adventures in Mobile Homes. July 21, 2009. Accessed March 05, 2018.
4. Morris, Sharon L. "Fixtures What Kind of Property Are They?" Sept. & Oct. 2010. Accessed March 5, 2018.
5. "Down Payment: How Much You Should Save to Buy a House." Mortgage Learning Center. Accessed March 05, 2018.

Topics Manufactured Housing