Learning Center

May 22, 2019

Manufactured Buildings vs. Modular Buildings

Modular buildings feature steel frames and are highly customizable, while those manufactured are smaller and portable, with limited use.


With costly delays and inefficiencies always looming as potential risks during a building project, it’s no wonder why developers are increasingly exploring off-site construction.

Off-site construction, while teeming with potential for reducing costs and schedules, is a fairly broad term, and it is important to understand its different varieties before moving forward with your project. Two oft-confused types are manufactured buildings and modular buildings.

Manufactured buildings vs. modular buildings? What are the primary differences and advantages of both manufactured building methods and modular building methods?

Sometimes used synonymously, there's a broad distinction between "manufactured" and "modular" construction. Though both employ some form of off-site construction, they are very different in their approach and overall finished product in three important areas:

  • Installation 
  • Size
  • Use 

So let’s dive into the distinctions: manufactured buildings vs. modular buildings.


Manufactured buildings are often built with the intention of being relocated. Most are therefore assembled directly onto wheeled chassis, enabling the building, or portions of it, to be towed. The wheels are removed and reattached, as required, for each move.

Modular buildings, on the other hand, are intended to be permanent structures, and are built on steel frames. These units are transported via trucks, trains, or other vehicles, and hoisted into place before being assembled, or “married” together, and affixed to a foundation. Installing a modular building is more complex than setting up a manufactured building, but this also contributes greatly to its overall strength. 


Manufactured buildings are rarely comprised of more than three modular units or taller than a single story, to maintain their portability. These buildings would otherwise be too complex to move in a practical or economical way. 

Modular buildings have much fewer size restrictions due to their permanence and engineering. With the capability of incorporating hundreds of modular units and towering more than 30 stories—especially when built with structural steel—these structures are really only limited by the developer's imagination.


Manufactured buildings, due to their smaller size and portability, have a narrower set of potential uses as compared to their modular counterparts. The most common is inexpensive housing, sometimes called "mobile homes." Others include those more temporary in nature, such as office space on construction sites and disaster relief stations. 

Modular buildings are much more versatile, naturally lending themselves to functions requiring many identical or repeatable units, such as hotels, apartment buildings and schools, and more, as long as an expert team designs the appropriate modules.

Deluxe Modular specializes in creating steel-framed modular buildings in less time for less cost than traditional on-site construction. Contact Us to learn more. 

Topics: Modular Construction

Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Modular Construction

This guide is intended to help you sort through the confusion, give you an in-depth understanding of the modular construction process, its benefits and challenges, and help you determine if modular construction is right for you.

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