TAMPA, Fla. — To Jim Ayotte, it just makes sense to build a home in a factory. You wouldn’t drive to a location and try to coordinate the schedules of different subcontractors to build a car in a driveway. So why do it with a house?
Ayotte is the executive director of the Florida Manufactured Housing Association, a group based in Tallahassee that advocates for builders, retailers and other parts of the industry statewide.
Manufactured housing used to be a synonym for rectangular mobile homes, but Ayotte said it now encompasses much more than that. He spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about how he believes factory-built homes can help relieve the affordable housing crunch. In this interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, he answers common questions about manufactured homes.
Q: What is a manufactured home? Is it the same or different from mobile homes?
A: It is different and that’s that’s one of the issues we run into as an industry. People say, ‘Oh, mobile homes, those old things? We don’t want those in our neighborhood. They’re not really safe.’
A mobile home has not been built since 1976. Manufactured housing is built in a factory, it’s built to standards administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Today’s manufactured homes are comparable to site-built housing when it comes to energy efficiency, wind safety and everything else.
Today’s manufactured home come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. We have homes with steeper pitched roofs, they have built-in porches, they have garages. Today’s manufactured homes on the on the upper-end are indistinguishable from a home built on-site. And you still have the wide range as well, so a more affordable option may not include all those features.
What we build today really is workforce housing. It’s housing that people living in the community can afford, whether you’re a firefighter or a police officer, or a healthcare professional.
My whole point is this: if people have not checked out a manufactured home in the past half-dozen years or so, they really owe it to themselves to go take a look. And there’s plenty of places where you can do that in the Tampa Bay area.
These homes are built super strong because you’re building them in a factory and you’re transporting them down the highway to their final destination where they’re installed on-site and ready for occupancy.