PREFAB & MOBILE HOMES

Best Manufactured Homes: The Features that Matter

Prairie style manufactured home
Gary Merritt
Written by Gary Merritt

We all want the best of things when we go out to buy stuff. There is no reason why this should be different when we’re looking for a manufactured home.

After all, your house is one of the largest single investments you’ll ever make, all the more reason to go for the very best. However, how can you tell that what you’re getting is the very best? Simple, ask the industry professionals. Events to award the best manufactured homes have been around for a while now.

Because these homes have been around for more than half a century, the stalwarts in the industry now have a better idea of what constitutes a good manufactured home.

Manufactured home with front porch

At the very least, knowing which the best manufactured house is can point you towards a certain manufacturer but sometimes the highly rated manufacturers have a long waiting line or even a price that’s outside your reach.

Even so, you can still use the features that have made specific homes highly rated to guide you as you design or choose your own house even if you’re working with a different manufacturer. When you combine these features with your expectations/needs, it’s much easier to end up with a house you’ll love.

Overall Functionality

There are few things that matter in a house as much as whether or not its design and features are functional. Functionality can be hard to gauge because what’s functional means different things to different homeowners.

2 bedroom manufactured home rental

However, there are one or two features that can easily reveal whether you have a functional mobile house or one that is going to take some getting used to.

Floor Plan

The floor plan simply shows you the location of various parts, features and appliances in the house among other things. This means that you can tell how good a house is just by looking at the floor plan.

Interior decoration of manufactured home

The location of toilets, the direction of door swing, presence or absence of walls, location and amount of storage space, stairs, the location of windows and all other things you’d see in a regular floor plan can quickly tell you how functional the house will be.

A large room with a small window may not have adequate ventilation, a toilet door that’s too close to public spaces will provide limited privacy, limited storage space in a family home will be a problem sooner or later etc.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the room most prospective house buyers inspect (according to Trulia.com) and if you ask almost anyone who owns a house, this is probably the most important part of the house. This comes as no surprise because food preparation is now an important part of the family experience.

Some health experts (aboutkidshealth.ca) actually recommend involving kids in food preparation. The kitchen has, therefore, become the centre of activity in most houses and must thus be as functional as possible. A good kitchen will have enough space for walking and working in.

It will also have lots of storage space for utensils, condiments etc. There should also be enough space for appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves, ovens etc. Additionally, all these various features of the kitchen need to come together to form a space that is easy to work in, clean and even eat in.

Remodeling home kitchen

Because of the limited space in mobile houses, it takes creativity to make the available space fully functional. A highly rated house will definitely have a good kitchen.

Getting a top-rated mobile home doesn’t guarantee that it will meet your functional needs. For example, the Hillcrest IV was named the best new manufactured home design winner at the National Congress and Expo for Manufactured and Modular Housing in 2016.

However, the raised porch will be a problem if you have anyone in your household with mobility problems unless the design is altered.

Material Quality

In any construction project, material selection is very important in determining the long-term success of whatever is constructed (according to brighthubengineering.com).

This should mean a lot to mobile home owners or those planning to own a mobile home because one of the main reasons why old mobile house construction standards had to be improved was that poor material selection made them unsafe and also lowered their life span.

Wood tile flooring

When you look at some of the best mobile homes around, you will realise that the choice of materials is a big deal. Materials affect the look, feel, durability, frequency of maintenance among other things, of a mobile house. A few areas where material selection will matter a great deal include:

  1. Flooring: Toughnickel.com recommends avoiding particleboard all together and anyone who has ever seen a house with a particleboard floor after a few years knows why. Particle board is highly susceptible to water damage. This means that if used in parts of the house with a lot of moisture such as bathrooms, you may have a problem in the near future.

Some homeowners will make quite a bit of noise about hardwood flooring but when you’re on a budget, this is not an automatic option. Creative selection of the flooring materials can give you results that even some highly rated houses have failed to achieve such as getting a floor that is both affordable and durable.

For example, using hardwoods in high-traffic areas and a cheaper material like laminate in low traffic areas can help you to cut costs while still getting durable floors.

  1. Wall Panels: Wall panels affect the aesthetics of the house and there are many materials that can be chosen from ranging from wood and vinyl to ceramic tiles and cement board. Certain types of wall panels don’t last when used in rooms that have moisture including the commonly used drywall. In a highly rated house, materials for wall panels are chosen based on the characteristics of the room. It’s possible to choose different materials for different rooms and still end up with a great looking house.

Glass walls modular home

Water and Energy Efficiency

According to mobilehomeliving.org, one of the things that set Champion Homes, who manufacture some of the most highly rated mobile houses in the market, is their focus on energy efficiency. Indeed, water and energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important to many prospective homeowners.

Eco-friendly modular home

It’s not just because this is good for the planet, more people are also realising that going green can reduce the running expenses of a home.

Water

In some of the best mobile houses you will find features like low-flow toilets, showers and faucets. While these features may increase the initial cost of acquiring the house, they usually prove to be worth every penny spent.

Plumbing valves and faucets

According to Gracelinks.org, installing a low-flow toilet can save up to 4 gallons of water and sometimes even more per flush. With numbers such as these, the cost savings can be immense even in the first few months.

Energy

More than half the energy used in a typical American home goes to cooling and heating and 5% of the energy used goes towards lighting according to energy.gov. Quite a lot of the heat produced is actually wasted through windows and poor insulation and these are the kind of losses that many manufacturers are now trying to avoid.

A concrete slab as a foundation can lead to greater heat losses. Windows that are too large can have the same effect while those that are too small can result in poor ventilation. These are just a few examples of the problems that cause some houses to be poorly regarded in the mobile house community.

Modular home using solar energy

Highly rated houses will usually be designed with factors such as natural light, ventilation and heat loss taken under consideration. These houses will also come with features that can further reduce energy wastage such as energy efficient appliances, double glazed windows, low emissivity windows, solar heating and lighting systems etc.

Energy efficiency has become so important that mobile house manufacturers such as Clayton Homes are now producing Energy Star certified mobile homes.

Aesthetics

It may seem pragmatic to simply focus on a house that works for you without paying much attention to the looks. However, the look of a house plays a key role in determining how much you enjoy living there.

Elegant cedar siding

A simple looking house may be okay when you just need a place to lay your head at the end of a long day but when you have to spend a lot of time indoors relaxing or entertaining visitors, you start to notice the small things that don’t quite fit.

Sometimes, you may not even realise that the reason you don’t feel so thrilled to be in your house is simply because of the dreary looking colours. A few aspects of aesthetics you should think about when designing and fitting your house include:

Lighting

According to psychologytoday.com, a study was conducted that showed natural light boosted the productivity of workers in an office. Even in the house, a bright sunny day may make you feel much more active and ready to take on a few tasks around the home compared to a dull day.

Ambient lighting inside modular home

Light doesn’t just show us where things are, it also defines how we look at things. Putting a window on the wrong side of the room could limit entry of light or could highlight certain negative aspects of a room. In the best built mobile homes, you can expect to see lots of natural light streaming in through the windows.

You may even find some rooms with a skylight. The kind of artificial lighting you choose is also important. A room may feel different simply by switching from lighting with a slightly pale hue to one that’s much whiter.

Colour

According to Wikipedia, colour psychology is the study of how colours affect the behaviour of people. When there’s a whole field of study dedicated to something, you know that it’s important. In a house, the colours that you paint the walls, the colour of furniture/appliances/curtains you buy will all have an effect on how your house looks.

Small modern prefabricated home

The colours in many top-rated mobile houses are in fact chosen by experts who know how to match different colours inside the house for the best result. You can hire an interior designer to help you achieve your ideal look if you find it overwhelming to match the many different colours.

Space

Space is both a functional and aesthetic factor for many people and this matters particularly in mobile houses because many mobile homes will not have the sort of space afforded by site-built homes. Without enough space, your house may feel cluttered even when everything is in its place.

Highly rated mobile houses make use of innovative space saving methods such as hidden storage areas, pull-out furniture, combo appliances etc. Some of these homes will also have lofts to help make better use of vertical space. This leaves you with more floor space in the various rooms in the house.

Triple wide prefab home interior

Ceiling height is yet another aspect of space that affects the look and feel of the house. According to mobilehomeliving.org, complaints of low ceilings are not uncommon among mobile home owners. A low ceiling can make a room look less spacious and it may even feel claustrophobic.

High ceilings are favoured by those looking to make really good homes. Some manufacturers (Champion Homes) have even moved from 7ft to 8ft side walls just to ensure the roof is higher.

Material

The choice of material isn’t just functional, it also has an effect on the pleasantness of a home. Imagine what it feels like to walk on hardwood floors and compare that to walking on a material such as cork.

There is a marked difference in how the two materials look, sound and feel. Even when manufacturers have been able to replicate the look of more expensive materials, they never really feel the same. Some manufacturers now do what can be referred to as strategic splurging.

Luxury kitchen model

This means spending a little more to get the best materials in certain parts of the mobile house such as countertops and floors. Choosing the right materials at the right time enables you to have an affordable mobile home that feels luxurious.

Plastic and fibreglass sinks look and feel cheap especially in a room such as a kitchen. Stainless steel looks better in the kitchen and in other parts of the house, ceramic sinks will give the house a better look.

Exterior

A house that looks good on both the outside and inside is always desirable. The best mobile houses will never overlook exterior features of the house such as the siding, lighting fixtures, windowsills and porches (if available with your home).

Luxury prefab home night view

Safety

No mobile house can achieve any sort of high rating if it neglects safety in its design and/or construction. Safety was a serious problem in mobile houses in the past and this is one factor that the industry doesn’t compromise on.

Some of the safety features that matter include availability and location of emergency exits, corridor width and wind resistance. Lack of suitable exits and small corridors can be a problem in case of an emergency while poor wind resistance was once a problem in earlier mobile houses.

Construction of mobile homes

Nowadays, mobile homes are able to withstand wind speeds of more than 140 miles per hour in some cases. The desirable wind resistance will depend on the location of your home.

The ‘X’ Factor

Because a house can be seen as an extension of the owner’s identity, people should always look for that unique factor that defines the house in their image. Even when buying homes from highly rated manufacturers, some people will make slight modifications to give the house that extra special thing that makes it different from the rest.

Mobile cabin built in factory

For some people, this may mean adding a unique room while for others, it’s putting in an extra feature or painting the walls a different colour. This unique factor can change your home from something generic to a space that is uniquely you.

However, don’t try too hard to make the house conform to what you want it to be, especially if this means sacrificing on the above factors.

Following in the footsteps of highly rated mobile houses

The competition to be the best is gathering pace in the mobile home market and many manufacturers are in the running for the top spot. While you may not be able to get your house from these manufacturers, you can still get an excellent house by taking after these manufacturers when choosing or designing your mobile home.

Before you jump into the other factors, it’s important that your house passes the first and most important test; it has to be functional. This means that all the various aspects of your house need to come together to ensure you get a house that works for your household.

Bungalow mobile home

Once you know you have a house design that works, you can now focus on the other features such as the quality of the materials you use in the house. With energy and water efficiency becoming more important, it’s important not to overlook these factors and the role of aesthetics in your home isn’t as superficial as some people make it seem.

Above all, you can only follow in the footsteps of the best mobile houses in the industry if your house is safe to live in. Once you’ve achieved this, you can throw in one or two extra things to stamp your identity on your new home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Merritt
Gary Merritt

Gary did an engineering degree in Vancouver, BC while working in different construction companies both on-site and in the office. He is passionate about manufacturing process and dreams that one day construction of the house will be as simple as ordering a hamburger in McDonalds. His motto is: “It is possible”. Gary is an optimist and works on making changes in housing situation on global scale.

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