What is the difference between site-built housing and factory-built housing?

Factory-built housing is a construction method that is in direct contrast to traditional, site-built housing. Both building methods use nearly identical high-quality construction materials. Furthermore, both are subject building and construction codes that ensure safety and durability for homebuyers. 

The key differences lie in which building codes the structures are designed to, where the construction takes place, and final production costs.

Site-built homes are always built to local building codes while factory-built homes can be built to federal, state, or local codes. The building code depends on the category of Factory Built Home. 

Site-built houses, as the name implies, are houses that are constructed in the final location where the house will stand. This is the most common type of housing construction in the U.S. On the other hand, factory-built homes are built in a plant or factory and then the home is shipped to the final destination where the home will be set. These houses account for 7 percent of all owner-occupied housing in the U.S., according to the most recent Census data

When it comes to dollars and cents, factory-built houses are able to offer a quality product at a fraction of the cost of a site-built home. The average cost per square foot for a site-built home is $119.00 while the average cost for a factory-built home is $57.00. Factory-built homes are much more cost-effective to produce because they are put together in an indoor assembly line. Manufacturers benefit from the ability to buy materials in bulk and there are no weather-related construction delays. Likewise, there’s no need to send workers to job sites all across town. These efficiencies mean that manufacturers are able to pass the production savings along to buyers! 
While you’ve likely driven past a site-built construction site, you probably haven’t been able to see the inside of a factory-built home plant. Curious to see what the process looks like? Check out an interactive factory tour from one of the Clayton Homes, one of the manufacturers we work with.