Mobile Homes have changed a lot over the years, and they’re an even better value than they’ve ever been.
For starters, there’s sometimes confusion about exactly what is meant by ‘mobile home.’ Rule number one: Don’t call them ‘trailers.’
Here’s what the current terms mean for this category of affordable housing styles.
Prefab or Manufactured, or Mobile?
Prefab Homes: This is the general term used to refer to any type of home that is constructed off-site (in a production plant or factory) and then transported to the building site.
Modular Homes: These are constructed in two or more sections at the factory and transported to the building site on a flatbed truck. Constructed to conventional building codes, they may have multiple floors and more steeply pitched roofs.
Manufactured Homes: Usually single-story, they mostly come in double-wide or triple-wide configurations that are much roomier and more ‘house-like’ than the outdated idea of a single-wide (narrow) version — the latter type being what’s often conjured by the term ‘trailer.’ Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards (HUD Code) define rigorous guidelines for manufactured homes. The most recognized distinction from modular homes is that they have a permanent steel I-beam chassis and wheels under the floor so they can be towed rather than carried on the back of a truck.
Mobile Homes: You’ll often see this term used interchangeably when referring to today’s manufactured homes. But technically, the term ‘mobile home’ only applies to dwellings built before June 1976, when the HUD Code went into effect.
Considerations when owning a mobile home
Let’s focus on modern mobile homes. The advantages of buying one are the lower cost and the easy set up. And with today’s double- and triple-wide homes, you’re not going to sacrifice much in the way of style, floor space, and amenities. A mobile home also gives you the option of someday moving it with relative ease to a new location, although more of today’s mobile homes are intended to stay put.
Newer mobile homes also use very similar – if not the same – building materials as standard stick built homes. Much of the current cost savings is due to efficiencies in the building process and not the use of cheaper materials, as has been a factor in the past.
While buying a mobile home is much cheaper up front, there are drawbacks. You may find that some financial institutions are reluctant to offer a home loan for a mobile home unless it will rest on a permanent foundation, or you already own the land it will be set up on (or are taking out a loan to buy the land as well). Rest assured we work with the best mobile home lenders in the country, and we can help find the best financial institution for your home. Click here to learn more about your financing options.
Site location and other costs
If you’re moving into a mobile home park community (or what used to be known as a ‘trailer park’), check the community fees and any rules involving your home, including construction requirements and restrictions. If you’ll be on your own property, find out if local zoning laws permit mobile homes on your site.
You’ll also want to make sure you understand all of the extra costs involved in transporting and setting up a mobile home on a site. Part of the negotiation is often who will pay for the move costs, you or the home dealer (or the person selling you a used home). A mobile home is easier to set up than a traditional home, you will still need a foundation and underpinning in place.
The final inspection
As with any home purchase, you need to thoroughly check out the mobile home before putting money down. While this applies to a new home as well, it’s especially important if you’re buying a used mobile home. In addition to all the usual things you’d check out in any home with a used home, the following features deserve a close look:
- Windows and doors. Make sure they have insulation, and keep an eye out for gaps around the frames. Look for any cracks in the windows, and make sure the doors all open and close easily.
- Floors. Test their strength (no squeaking or sagging), look for any warping, and avoid floors constructed with particle board because it tends to warp or rot when wet.
- Belly wrap. This thick plastic goes under the floor and insulation and helps keep out animals and moisture. Check the insulation under the wrap to make sure it’s not damp.
- Walls. Look for any interior leaks. Vinyl exterior siding is preferable to metal (which can buckle) or hardboard (which can have water problems).
- Roof. Avoid the old-style flat metal roofs, which can leak and make cooling the home difficult, and look for a shingled roof with an overhang to aid in rain runoff.
- Lumber. Walls should use 2×6′ lumber with studs 16″ apart.
- Settling and leveling. Older mobile homes can settle over time, twisting the home’s frame and leaving it unleveled.
- Anchoring. Check that the home’s anchoring system is still sturdy and well-attached.
- Determine if the home has any structural additions or alterations that the factory didn’t install.
- Additions or alterations.
Buying a mobile home is a big commitment and investment, so do your homework, check all your options, and follow up on all safety, construction, and finance questions. Remember, you’re not buying a ‘trailer,’ you’re buying your home.
From State Farm