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Mobile Homes

Get information about mobile homes and the pros and cons of buying one.

Mobile homes, also called manufactured homes, can be mounted on wheels and moved from one location to another. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Mobile homes, also called manufactured homes, can be mounted on wheels and moved from one location to another.

Mobile homes, now called manufactured homes, are factory-built homes mounted on wheels which allow them to move from one location to another. When a mobile home is placed on a permanent foundation, it becomes a single-family dwelling and is no longer considered a mobile home. The U.S. government enforces construction standards; however, as with any home, zoning, maintenance and other local laws and regulations apply.

Mobile homes are popular with older adults and roomy enough to accommodate families. According to the American Homeowners Foundation, the average size of a single-wide mobile home is 1,100 square feet, while the average size of a double-wide mobile home is 1,700 square feet. Buying a mobile home is an affordable option for home ownership.

Construction Standards

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), since June 1976, mobile homes must be built according to certain construction and safety standards. Consumers should be familiar with performance standards and select a mobile home that can withstand the wind, temperatures and snowfall for their area.

For example, the U.S. map is divided into different zones that characterize wind and temperature features of the climate. So, a Wind Zone 1 home is sufficient for many parts of the country while, a Wind Zone 2 is recommended for coastal areas and a Wind Zone 3 is recommended in areas prone to hurricane winds. A Thermal Zone 3 mobile home has more insulation and is more suitable for cold, northern climates than a Thermal Zone 2 or Thermal Zone 1. Additionally, mobile homes upgraded with higher R-value insulation in the ceiling, walls and floor will cost less to heat and cool. A mobile home should also have a roof-load zone suitable for the amount of snowfall expected.

Purchasing a Mobile Home

Mobile homes range in cost from $37,000 to $91,000, according to U.S. Census Data in January of 2008. Cost can vary depending on the quality of the mobile home, and the region in which the home is purchased. Consumers can shop for new or used mobile homes in person or online in one of the following ways:

  • Visit a manufacturer's village in person and tour the various styles of mobile or manufactured homes
  • View mobile homes that are already in place at a mobile home park
  • Take a virtual tour on a manufacturer's Web site to view the different styles of mobile homes offered
  • Look at online sources that connect those who wish to purchase a mobile home with those who wish to sell one

Securing a Mobile Home

Mobile homes are secured into place using a series of straps known as tie-downs or anchors. Some mobile homes require vertical tie-downs that are strapped over the top to help prevent the mobile home from lifting up in high winds. In older mobile homes, these tie-downs were visible; however, newer mobile homes are designed so that vertical tie-downs are hidden.

Diagonal tie-downs are straps that are hooked to the frame of the mobile home and then to a ring that is secured underground in concrete. Single-wide homes sometimes require both diagonal and vertical tie-downs, while double-wide mobile homes require only diagonal tie-downs. Consulting a local building inspector ensures a mobile home is safely and properly anchored.

Benefits of Purchasing a Mobile Home

A mobile home is significantly less expensive than a home built on-site, making it an affordable option for many consumers. Mobile homes cost less because the materials are purchased in bulk, and builders construct the home in a climate-controlled area, eliminating costly weather delays. Some consumers choose a mobile home with a new roof, windows, flooring and appliances over a comparably priced pre-owned home. Mobile homes may also carry lower taxes and insurance rates.

Drawbacks of Purchasing a Mobile Home

Compared to a permanent building, a mobile home is less likely to provide adequate shelter during severe weather. According to The Weather Channel, 51 percent of tornado deaths in the 2008 tornado season occurred in mobile homes, compared to 43 percent in permanent buildings. In tornadoes, severe thunderstorms or during periods of high wind advisories, it is generally recommended that inhabitants leave their mobile homes and seek stronger shelter.

Mobile homes are more likely to increase in value when they are on a permanent foundation. This requires money to purchase the land and prepare it for the mobile home. Additional costs may include clearing and grading the ground, as well as connecting electrical and water supplies. Digging a well or installing a septic system may be required in more remote areas.

Mobile homes have their own unique repair issues as well. Single-wide mobile homes see more repair issues dealing with roofs, floors, windows and doors, while double-wide mobile homes tend to require more repairs where the various sections are joined.

First-time buyers of a mobile home should take the time to fully understand the pros and cons of a mobile home using a source such as The Grissim Ratings Guide to Manufactured Homes before signing on the dotted line.

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