The History of Manufactured Housing

Regulatory Environment, Stages of Development, and New Technology

The history of manufactured housing in its earlies form dates from 1764, when a two-story panelized frame dwelling was shipped from London to Cape Ann, Mass. By the early 1900s, the English were building custom vans, and an American devised a fifth-wheel hitch to attach a travel wagon to his roadster.

During World War II, the U.S. government purchased mobile homes for workers near plants. Bu the late 1940s, trailer lengths had increased to more than 20 feet and small bathrooms were added. In the 1960s, two-section mobile homes became popular, and a mobile homes construction code was developed by the Mobile Home Craftsmen Guild.

In the 1970s, one mobile home was built for every three site-built homes compared to the lat three years, where we have seen one manufactured home built for every 10 site-built homes. This is one of the many reasons our country has a sever lack of affordable housing.

Manufactured housing is a type of prefabricated housing that is largely assembled in factories and then transported to sites of use. It is regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since 1976. Manufactured homes are different from modular homes, which are also factory-built but comply with the building code for where they will be placed and are often treated as equivalent to site-built homes for zoning purposes.

Details on Zoning

Zoning is a tool that cities use to govern the use, size, and relation of building to their surroundings. Zoning for manufactured housing varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may restrict or eliminate their placement in certain areas.

Some of the common zoning devices that affect manufactured housing are…

– Outright bans

– Lot size requirements

– Density Limits

– Restrictions on manufactured home communities

– Aesthetic standards

– Compatibility criteria

These zoning regulations may reduce the supply of affordable housing and may be discriminatory under the Fair Housing Act. State-level zoning restrictions against manufactured homes and communities are being targeted by legislators in Arizona, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. As these states turn the corner in accepting our industry again, we will see more viable development opportunities.

Land Entitlement for Manufactured Housing

The process of entitlement for land development involves obtaining approvals from local authorities for use and development of land. It may include rezoning, subdivision, site plan review, environmental review, variance, special use permit and other approvals depending on the project and location.

The entitlement process can be complex, time consuming, and costly for developers of manufactured housing communities. It may also involve public hearings, community meetings, and negotiations with stakeholders.

Professional Services Involved in Land Development

A successful entitlement of a manufactured housing community requires a good land-use attorney, engineer, and site plan designer. These professionals can help navigate the complex zoning and permitting regulations, ensure compliance with environmental and safety standards, and optimize the layout and design of the community.

A good land-use attorney can advise on the legal aspects of the project, such as negotiating with local authorities, securing approvals and variances, and resolving any disputes or challenges. A good engineer can provide technical expertise on the infrastructure and utilities of the community, such as water, sewer, drainage, roads. And lighting. A good site plan designer can create a functional and attractive plan for the community, such as maximizing space utilization, enhancing aesthetics and accessibility, and incorporating amenities and features.

During the last year, we at Yale have tracked over 25,000 sites being developed across Texas, Arizona and the Southeast. We are excited for what the future holds for new manufactures housing communities and hope that progress being made by some of these states continues to spread to other areas of the country.