Price, availability and quality are the main reasons why manufactured houses are becoming increasingly popular for low- and middle-income families and should remain that way through the year 2000.

That word comes from Kevin Schmidt, owner of Schmidt's Homes and a member of the board of directors of the Utah Manufactured Housing Association. He noted that Gov. Norm Bangerter has declared May as Utah Manufactured Housing Month.Schmidt said shipments of new manufactured homes to Utah retailers are 36.7 percent higher than last year and manufactured homes represent 33 percent of all new homes built.

He said manufactured houses are the ones completed in a factory and towed to a foundation as opposed to the ones completed by contractors at the site. They are built just like regular homes but are put on axles and wheels for transport.

Many people use the terms manufactured homes and mobile homes interchangeably. Schmidt said a manufactured home is one built in a factory under a federal building code administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and must comply with the federal manufactured home construction and safety standards.

Mobile home is the term used for homes built prior to June 15, 1976, when the HUD code took effect. Mobile homes can be seen in many mobile home parks.

Schmidt said there used to be three manufactured home builders in Utah, but now there are none so the retailers must get their homes from Colorado, Idaho or Arizona.

He said manufactured houses can save a buyer 20 percent of the purchase price because manufacturers purchase construction materials in bulk, a few highly skilled people can supervise many factory workers, all parts of the houses are being worked on at once and there is no work stoppage because of bad weather.

Manufactured houses come in many sizes from 1,050 to 2,100 square feet. They have shingle or tile roofs, 2-by-6-inch exterior studding, vaulted ceilings in the major living areas, dual-glazed windows, insulation in the roof and walls, sheetrock, wall coverings and come with appliances.

They come in different configurations from a small one with two bedrooms and one bathroom to ones with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Buyers decide what they want, and it takes about six weeks before the house is transported and placed on a foundation, Schmidt said.

Or buyers can go to a retailer and pick out one of the houses already built and move it onto their lot. Garages and carports also can be easily attached to a manufactured home, he said.