7 Reasons Why Mobile Homes Are so Cheap

It’s hard to find a home in today’s competitive housing market. But there is one type of home that most people can afford: mobile homes. Mobile homes (technically, manufactured homes) are less expensive than most houses, and they often come with more features for the price as well.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average price of a new mobile home is $65,400 for a single-wide and $122,500 for a double-wide (2021 data). The cost varies by about 15%, depending on location. You can buy an older mobile home for about $30,000-$40,000 that will still have many years left before it needs major repairs or replacement. 

Why are mobile homes so cheap?

In short, mobile homes are cheaper than most other home types because they are mass-produced and built with materials that don’t cost as much and are usually of lower quality, which makes them more affordable to build.

However, that is only part of the story. The style of mobile homes also plays a role in why they are so affordable, as well as other factors. Keep reading to learn more about the 7 reasons why mobile homes are so cheap.

1. Mobile Homes Are Made from Affordable Materials

First of all, mobile homes are made from materials that are easy to assemble and less expensive to buy than other types of materials. As a result, it is much more affordable for the builder to produce the homes and sell them at a lower price.

For example, mobile homes will typically have floors made from OBS boards and vinyl instead of hardwood, while walls may be made from lightweight vinyl-on-gypsum instead of ordinary drywall. They also use lightweight steel frames instead of expensive brick masonry to keep the price down. The frame is made from galvanized steel (which will keep rusting to a minimum), and it is not as heavy as a wood frame. This allows the homes to be put up on concrete slabs, which are cheaper than foundations made from poured concrete.

Some of these materials make mobile homes less durable than other types of homes. While they are still sturdy and safe, mobile homes have a shorter life expectancy than stick-built houses.

That being said, it is important to realize that mobile homes can be more expensive than some types of houses if you add high-end features. For example, a few years ago, I saw a new mobile home for sale. It was nearly $300,000 and had several luxury features such as hardwood floors and granite countertops. However, most mobile homes do not have many luxury features.

2. They Are Mass-produced

Mobile homes are mass-produced in factories, which can save a lot of time and money during construction. The walls are made from lightweight materials that are easy to cut and assemble, and the roofing is also pre-fabricated.

As a result, you will find that most mobile homes are built in just a few days as compared to stick-built homes, which take several months to build. Although there is some construction required after the home has been delivered (like hooking up power and water), this usually only requires very few hours of skilled labor. This makes them much more affordable than other types of homes.

3. They Are Easier and Cheaper to Transport

When a mobile home is manufactured, it is shipped to the desired location on its own chassis and set onto a foundation. This is why they are called mobile homes. Unlike other homes that require several trucks to deliver all the materials, the mobile home usually only requires one truck to move it from its factory to your property.

Therefore, when you buy a mobile home, you do not need to pay as much for delivery costs, and you can save some money this way. In addition, because the materials and structure are lightweight, they require less energy to transport than traditional homes.

4. There Is Less Need for Site Preparation and Cleanup

Unlike stick-built homes, you do not need to pour a full concrete foundation prior to installing a mobile home. Instead, a simple slab foundation or concrete pier foundation is sufficient for the mobile home’s weight. This saves you money on the price of materials and labor since it requires less work overall.

Pier foundation
Pier foundation

With a mobile home, your yard will also remain mostly intact after the home is delivered. The truck may leave some marks on the lawn, but that is nothing compared to how it would have looked with a stick-built home. This will save you the costs of regenerating the lawn, which can add up to thousands of dollars depending on how big your yard is.

5. They Often Come with Affordable Furnishings and Appliances

Another reason mobile homes are cheaper than other types of houses on the market is that they often come with inexpensive furniture and appliances. Because these homes are manufactured in bulk, the manufacturer is able to buy in bulk, too. This means that they are able to get better deals on appliances or other accessories and pass these savings onto you.

Developers of stick-built houses usually also offer discounted selections of furnishings. However, because your typical mobile home manufacturer produces so many units each year, they are often able to have better deals on appliances and offer them at a much lower cost.

6. The Design Is Simple

Because mobile homes are built to be mass-produced and easy to transport, they are often very simple. The typical style of a mobile home consists of a single floor, with few windows and a door. There are no staircases or anything, just an uncomplicated design. Because they are produced in bulk, the manufacturer does not need an architect to design them – they can simply follow existing designs to get their mobile homes built quickly and at a low cost.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all mobile homes are the same. Different mobile homes have different layouts and designs, but the overall design is very simple and easy to reproduce, which contributes to why they are so affordable.

Despite a simple design, you can still put your own spin on it. While you may not have the possibility to customize your home and make it as individualistic or unconventional as a house that was designed by an architect, this doesn’t mean they all look the same. You can still add your own personal touches to make it a home that is full of character.

7. They Are Smaller than Stick-built Houses

Last but not least, mobile homes are cheaper because they are smaller than stick-built homes, meaning they use fewer materials in their construction. For example, the typical size of a single-wide mobile home is 500 to 1,200 square feet, compared with 2,300 square feet for an average house.

While you can build a smaller ordinary house, that would usually not be cheaper than buying a ready-made mobile home of similar size. This is because the start-up costs are also much higher for the ordinary house – you will have to hire builders, pay for materials, and so forth.

In Summary

Mobile homes are often cheaper than other types of houses on the market for a variety of reasons. They’re made from affordable materials, mass-produced, easier and cheaper to transport, come with affordable furnishings and appliances, have a simple design without stairs and other complications. Mobile homes may be smaller in size, but this doesn’t always make them less appealing for buyers who are looking for a cheap home to call their own.

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