Mobile Homes Timeline: Manufactured Housing Through the Years

The factory-built home has come a long way from its humble trailer origins to its growing popularity today.

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  1. Give Me Shelter


    Wheel Estate author Allan Wallis calls the mobile home "the single most significant and unique housing innovation in 20th century America…. No other innovation has been more widely adopted nor simultaneously more broadly vilified."

  2. More Mobile.....


    To learn more about the history and evolution of the mobile home, don't miss Mobile Homes: Then and Now

    For more smart housing solutions, consider:

    The Container House

    Downsizing with Style

    House Arc: Stylish and Flat-Packed for Shipping

  3. The Complete New Home


    By the 50s and 60s, trailers had become viable domiciles, and mobile home parks had sprouted along the outskirts of thousands of towns. A typical park had a central shower and laundry facility with outhouses placed between every two units.

    Upwardly Mobile

  4. Trailer Park Deluxe


    In the 1940s, Malibu’s Paradise Cove attracted fisherman. Nowadays it attracts savvy (and sometimes celebrity) city dwellers looking for a weekend beach house. Though older mobile homes still exist in the 270-lot park, new residents often tear trailers down to the chassis and rebuild.

    Vanity Fair

  5. Manufactured Malibu Style


    Point Dume Club is another well-known mobile home community in Malibu. Like at Paradise Cove, the residents here own their homes and lease the land from the park owners. Overlooking Zuma Beach, new construction and renovation work at Point Dume usually seeks to capitalize on the view.

    Malibu Real Estate Blog

  6. From Mobile to Manufactured


    In 1976, the term "mobile" was officially replaced with "manufactured", as The Department of Housing and Urban Development set national standards to improve the quality and safety of these homes. 

    MSN Real Estate

  7. Southwest Style


    Once it's been delivered and properly set up, a manufactured home can be hard to distinguish from a traditional site-built home. A case in point is Cavco’s HUD-code Santa Fe, with its stucco façade and parapet roof line (log vigas can also be ordered). Square footage ranges from 1,300 to 3,200. Ceilings reach as high as 10'. 


  8. Factory Built


    At Cavco, it takes 7-10 days to complete each home. Here, a section of roof is hoisted onto its corresponding module. Scaffolding provides an easier, safer way for team members to work on all levels of the structure. Galvanized steel strapping is part of the 'tie down' system for transport.


  9. Upscale Appliances


    Like the mobile models of the 50s and 60s, today's manufactured homes arrive complete with everything from appliances to window treatments. Many offer upgrades as well, like Champion's Ultimate Kitchens suite of top-of-the-line countertops, fixtures, and cabinets. 


  10. The Great Outdoors


    Suzanne Felber, Lifestylist and consultant to the factory-built housing industry, sees a rising interest in homes with attached outdoor living spaces. In a factory-built house, the porch is incorporated into the roof and structure of the home for stability.

    Southern Energy Homes

  11. Private Property


    Mobile home parks can still be found throughout the country, but today more manufactured homes are placed on private property. Out of the 51,606 homes shipped throughout the U.S. in 2011, Texas received the most.

    Jane Dagmi

  12. A Look Forward


    Regarded as an RV, Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.’s portable Popomo is built on a 20' flatbed trailer and offers 172 square feet of living space. Though it shares the metal shell of its mobile predecessors, the building is designed with 21st-century sensitivity to environmental factors—for instance, it faces south during winter for solar gain.

    Tumbleweed Tiny House co.

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