Generally when this question is asked it is in reference to comparison between Manufactured Homes vs. Site Built Homes. There are several reasons why mobile homes, manufactured homes and modular homes are cheaper than site-built homes... here are a few: (I will be referring to all three of these together as mobile homes for the purpose of this Blog.)
First of all, mobile homes are built on an assembly line. This streamlines the building process and makes it extremely fast compared to site built structures. There are several stations in each factory. Each station will complete their job (in an allotted amount of time) and then move the home to the next station. Instead of having a separate framing crew, plumber, electrician, A/C professional, cabinet maker, counter top specialist, flooring specialist, sheet-rock crew, insulation crew and concrete crew working for themselves and showing up at all different times like they would on a site built home, you have them all together at one convenient location. Also, each Manufacturer will have a limited number of floor-plans that they build. This means that they are building the same plan over and over day after day, which increases efficiency and time as well as cuts down on common building mistakes that are generally experienced with every site built home. All of these floor-plans are drawn by an engineer and are then certified by a licensed plumber, electrician, etc. This cuts down on costs dramatically! When building a site built home, these trade professionals charge by the square foot, which can get really expensive. A typical electrician will charge 3 to 4 dollars per square foot to install the electric and a plumber will charge close to the same per square foot as an electrician does... I think you get my point! By the time you have paid each professional for their job, you have a ton of money already spent. Now it is true that mobile homes are not as "custom" as a site built home and the price is definitely reflected in it. When buying a new mobile home, you are limited to what choices you have. Generally speaking, you will pick out your optional colors and the listed options that you are given, (upgrades) and then you are done. 3 to 5 weeks later you will have a home installed on your property ready for utility hookups. When building a site built home you have to pick out every single thing in the home, which can be very overwhelming and time consuming as well. Not to mention, it takes 5 months to over 1 year to get a custom home built and it will cost twice as much! Mobile home manufacturers buy all of the parts and lumber that is used to build their homes in bulk. Buying in bulk gives the manufacturers huge discounts on material prices, which are then passed on to the consumer. Last but no least is the building time. The process of building mobile homes has been perfected so well that the factories are able to build anywhere from 4 to 7 homes per day. When you can build and sell that many homes in that short amount of time, it gives you the leverage to sell for a cheaper price. The factories make profits by building a lot of homes at low prices rather than only building a few homes a year and trying to make a killing on every house. All of the above mentioned savings are passed on to the dealer when they purchase the home. As long as the dealer sticks with the same philosophy as the manufacturer and tries to sell a lot of homes for a small profit then the consumer will get a good deal. If the dealer tries to make every sale a "bell ringer" then the consumer ends up paying way too much. This is the main reason why customers should always shop around and not just buy the first thing that they fall in love with.