What Is the Difference Between a Modular Home and a Sectional Home?

Modular homes and sectional homes are the two different types of factory-produced residences available today. Modular homes must comply with the IRC (International Residential Code), while sectional homes must meet HUD requirements.

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Major Differences Between Modular Homes and Sectional Homes

You may be considering buying a house and wondering about the main differences between a modular home and a sectional home. Let’s take a deep dive into the key differences.

Modular homes are factory-constructed to meet the IRC Code throughout the U.S. In the state of Pennsylvania, the International Residential Code is used both for homes built on-site and factory-manufactured residences.

Sectional, or manufactured, homes are also called double-wide or single-wide houses. They are constructed to comply with the HUD Code. This code controls regulations for sectional home building and is monitored by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

These codes overrule any existing local building code regulations.

Additional important differences in manufacturing requirements for modular homes and sectional homes include the following:

Modular Home Requirements

Home Sections Transport

In modular home design and construction, all of the sections are delivered to the building site on steel frames. The home is rolled or lifted by crane onto its foundation, and the frames are sent back to the factory. Floor framing is usually done with 2 by 10s, but may be revised as needed.

Home Types Equalized

All sections are pre-inspected for IRC compliance before they leave the factory. After a house is set on its foundation, it will be viewed as equal to an on-site constructed home in all subsequent transactions.

Roofing Types

Typical roofs are 5/12, yet there are multiple roofing types and features to select from. Choices may be Cape Cod, T-ranch, split-entry or 2-story styles.

Home Walls and Ceilings

These homes have finished drywall that is primed and ready for painting, tiling or wallpapering. Ceilings are eight-foot standard designs.

Heating Systems

There are no code requirements for a factory-installed heating system. Heating systems are often installed in the home basements as they are in on-site constructed homes.

Optional Appliance Packages

Factory-installed appliances are not required by the code. Although they are not typically included on the standard home feature list, appliance packages may be optional for these houses.

Foundation or Crawlspace Regulations

The code specifies that these houses are to be positioned on full foundations or crawlspaces.

Modular Housing Costs

Modular houses have a higher upfront cost than sectional homes. Yet they are usually less costly than on-site built homes of equal size.

Sectional Home Requirements

Steel Under-Frame

Sectional, or manufactured, homes must have a steel frame placed beneath the house. This frame is a permanent, integral part of the house structure.

HUD Seal

Every sectional house has a HUD Seal, which is a certificate attached to the home’s exterior once it passes inspection. This seal guarantees that this house is in compliance with all federal laws that are relative to its construction. This seal will be noted in any future sales of the house.

Installed Heating System

Every manufactured house is sold with an installed heating system. Home buyers can select natural or LP gas, fuel oil or electric furnace heating and may install air conditioning later.

Roof Pitch and Ceiling Style

These sectional homes each have a standard 3/12 roof pitch. The ceilings of each house are standard vaulted (cathedral) style throughout the entire structure.

Vinyl on Gypsum Wall Boards

Gypsum-based wall paneling with front surface vinyl laminating (standard with VOG) is used for wall construction. Batten strips are placed over the seams to minimize installations expenses, and drywall can replace the vinyl board for an extra charge.

Appliance Package

These manufactured houses come with appliances included, and a standard package typically provides a refrigerator (18 cu. ft.) and a gas range. Microwaves and dishwashers are also supplied if desired.

House Foundation

Sectional houses may be positioned on a full-size basement, on a crawlspace or on piers.

Cost Comparison

These manufactured homes can be purchased at an impressively lower cost per square foot than traditional on-site constructed houses.

FAQs About Modular Homes and Sectional Houses

Frequently asked questions concerning modular homes and sectional houses include the following:

If my sectional home is placed on a permanent foundation or if it is now a real estate conversion, will it be categorized differently?

If you convert your house into standard real estate, or if you position your sectional home on a concrete foundation, it remains a manufactured structure. It will still be appraised and marketed as a sectional home.

If my manufactured house construction includes vinyl skirting, can it gain approval for FHA financing?

To qualify for FHA financing, your home’s vinyl skirting must have backing. According to FHA requirements for financing qualification, if the vinyl skirting is non-load bearing and made of lightweight material, it must have sufficient backing. This backing may be made of masonry, concrete or wood that is treated. This backing is attached permanently and reinforces the skirting.

Can both modular homes and sectional homes be produced using green materials and practices?

Yes, both types of homes can be made with the use of sustainable materials and eco-friendly construction practices. These houses can rate high for energy efficiency, and they may include thermal pane windows and energy-conserving appliances.

Elevated grades of insulation may also be used in the structure of these houses. Many of these homes are approximately 80 percent completed when they are transported to their permanent sites.

In addition, very little waste is created at the construction site, which lessens amounts of trash for disposal. This helps reduce the need for landfill dumping of trash as well.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are buying or selling a modular or sectional home, make sure that you understand their differences. Be certain that you can correctly answer the question, “What is the difference between a modular home and a sectional home?” This knowledge may be the deciding factor between making or breaking a good sale opportunity.

If you are selling your house, ensure that you advertise your home correctly. If your house is a sectional home, make sure that your HUD Seal is visible and legible.

If you are buying a home, be certain that the house that you buy measures up to the seller’s description. Do your homework before buying a house to ensure that the seller has advertised this home accurately.