UMH Blog

A Brief History of Manufactured Homes: From Campy to Coveted

Ever wonder why manufactured homes came into existence? Or how, in just 50 years or so, they evolved into the high-quality, luxurious homes they are today?

In The Beginning:

Tinier than today’s tiny homes, the first “travel trailers,” became popular in the 1920s. Usually pulled behind a car or pick-up, they were fun, low-cost homes-away-from-home; perfect for camping trips or family vacations.

When the Depression hit, travel trailers evolved from mostly recreational use to “mobile homes” as families who had lost everything packed their belongings into these compact trailers.

Mobile homes came to the rescue again after World War II when there was a shortage of housing for returning veterans and their families. They could be built quickly and allowed families to travel to where the jobs were.

In 1943, mobile homes, designed and built as permanent dwellings, averaged a “spacious” eight feet wide, and 20 feet long. But not only were these 20th-century mobile homes built without modern conveniences like “en-suite” bathrooms…they had no bathrooms at all!

By 1948, lengths grew to 30 feet and bathrooms were introduced. But construction standards and techniques still had a long way to go. Dogged by a reputation for less-than-sturdy construction, mobile homes were often a source of ridicule.

But that was all about to change…

Higher Standards Lead to Happier Homeowners:

Fast forward 30 years: In 1976 Congress passed the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Act, which assured that all homes were built to tougher national standards.

Then just four years later, Congress approved changing the name of “mobile homes” to “manufactured homes” for structures built in a factory, according to uniform federal building codes.

This code is often stricter than many of the local building codes that site-built homes must comply with.

Today, companies like UMH Properties take safety and quality a step further by routinely conducting wind testing to demonstrate the strength and stability of the homes they sell. To see for yourself, go to:

Recent improvements in manufactured home design mimic the luxury features found in site-built homes, at a fraction of the cost. The most wanted design elements like open floor plans, spa-like bathrooms, kitchen islands, fireplaces, decks and sunrooms are now available from leading home manufacturers. (

Home manufacturers, real estate developers and community planners will continue to advance the science and art of manufactured home living. And as many regions of the country face affordable housing shortages, this most American of ideas will continue to offer hope to millions.