Legalizing Manufactured Homes

Tanner Avery

Director of The Center for New Frontiers

Tanner Avery
/ Blog
August 12, 2022

Legalizing Manufactured Homes

"The process to build these homes are quite literally over engineered, meaning savings get passed directly on to the buyer."

As I’m sure you’re aware, Montana is experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing. While there is no silver bullet to this issue, there are a lot of things cities can do to remove barriers to affordable housing, such as eliminating minimum lot areas.

However, one thing I haven’t told you about yet is the barriers to manufactured housing and the things cities can do to remove those barriers. In order to understand the situation I interviewed Josh Wallery of Iseman Homes in Helena, and David Finney, a manufactured home advocate. 

Here is what I learned:

1. Manufactured homes are considerably less expensive but not for the reasons you might think.

“More than a hundred years ago Henry Ford pioneered the assembly line as a way to bring down costs so that the average person could afford to buy a car, and that is exactly what we’re doing today with manufactured housing. The assembly line structure is incredibly efficient, so much so that the trash from the building process can fit into one trash can – that’s unimaginable compared to today’s site-built homes. The process to build these homes are quite literally over engineered, meaning savings get passed directly on to the buyer.”

2. Manufactured homes can reduce costs without sacrificing quality.

“What makes manufactured homes so appealing today is that because the process to build them is so efficient, there is no need to sacrifice quality. I can’t think of another industry where you can cut costs while increasing quality, but we’ve quite literally found a way to do that.”

3. Many counties and cities forbid or penalize manufactured homes.

“But despite all of the benefits to manufactured housing today, there are still a number of barriers stopping them from being adopted – one of those being zoning.”

While manufactured homes certainly aren’t the silver bullet to the housing crisis, officials should explore all the options available to remove barriers to all affordable types of housing, including manufactured homes. To see the entire interview click HERE.

For Liberty,
Tanner Avery

The Latest

Should You Really Have to Get The Government’s Approval to Work?
In this month’s Healthcare Viewpoints column, Jack Brown unpacked the history of occupational licensing and its impact on healthcare and a variety of other professions. 

“Licensing often prescribes and constrains the ways in which work is structured, limiting innovation and economic growth. Licensing is at the root of a long chain of events leading to today’s pricing of healthcare services.”

The Benefits of Relaxing Strict Zoning
Earlier this week the Missoula Current featured an article discussing how “the old zoning somewhat hindered development at the Wye,” contributing to the housing shortage there. However, now the community is seeing new businesses and homes after the zoning code was relaxed.

Our Take: This is another example of how relaxing strict zoning can lead to more homes in communities that have been seeing housing shortages. Wye isn’t the only Montana community that has zoning codes that make it harder to build affordable housing, officials should work to address these barriers. 

The Real Reason For Skyrocketing Taxes
Last week Frontier CEO and President, Kendall Cotton, spoke with Aaron Flint on Montana Talks Radio to discuss how many Montana cities’ budgets are growing at alarming rates.

“On everyone’s mind is this question of rising property taxes, and how can we enact property tax relief. And, you know, really the central theme of the report that we put out is that tax relief starts with fiscal responsibility. And while you know a lot of Montanans are tightening their belts amid the skyrocketing property taxes, inflation, all of the increases in gas prices and groceries- our local governments, many of them, are on a spending spree.”


Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!