5 Mobile Home Myths Busted


The ignorance about mobile and manufactured housing is astounding. By ignorance, I simply mean there are many that are uneducated and misinformed about mobile and manufactured housing. Those people are usually the very ones who speak ill or spread untruths about mobile homes unknowingly. With proper education and knowledge I am certain we can change some minds and abolish a few myths.

The fact that the journalist only report on the catastrophes in mobile homes doesn’t help either. Have you ever seen an article about anything good happening to or in a mobile home? Me either! The only one’s I ever see go like “7 Dead in Mobile Home Fire” or “3 Murdered in Mobile Home Park.” I understand that bad news sells the papers but it is still a negative that we must overcome.

Therefore, the following is my attempt to fix a few myths and falsities about out beloved homes, all of the information is copied from relevant sites and studies.

Home struck by f2 tornado
Myth #1: 
Mobile and manufactured homes are tornado magnets.
Yes, most older mobile homes do have metal siding. No, there is no proof at all that tornado’s are attracted to that metal. Following is a verbatim quote from the WeatherNotebook.org, a site produced by the Mount Washington Observatory:
The truth is that tornadoes are in no physical way attracted to manufactured houses of any kind. That would be like saying that snow is attracted to mountains, or hurricanes are attracted to fish. There just happens to be a lot of trailer parks where there happens to be a lot of tornadoes. Also, there are probably a lot more mobile homes than you think.”

Keep reading, this is a long one!

 Although they also added: 
One in 25 Americans live in some kind of mobile structure, mostly in states where there are dozens and dozens of tornadoes each year. Places like the great plains, in general, have lots of folks living in these structures, which are just not built strongly enough to withstand even your run of the mill wind storm, let alone a tornado.”

 I am debating that last quote because it is untrue! 
Proof that even the professionals are uneducated!
With the advancement of several HUD mandated upgrades after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 the building codes developed afterward for newer mobile home ensures that construction is absolutely built strongly enough to withstand a “run of the mill wind storm”.
In areas prone to hurricane-force winds (known as Wind Zones II and III, according to HUD’s new Basic Wind Zone Map) the wind safety standards require that manufactured homes be resistant to winds up to 100 miles-per-hour in Wind Zone II and 110 miles-per-hour in Wind Zone III. In both of these zones, the standard for manufactured homes is now more stringent than the current regional and national building codes for site-built homes located in these wind zones. I assure you that 110 miles per hour is much stronger than your run of the mill wind storm!
Granted, those homes are only for certain zones so what about the rest of the nation?
In most of the country (non-hurricane-prone areas), manufactured homes are built to withstand sustained winds in the range of 70 miles-per-hour. Above this range, a manufactured home will experience some form of damage. Only in the case of severe weather, such as a tornado, are these areas likely to experience winds in excess of 70 miles-per-hour.
 A direct hit from a tornado will bring about severe damage or destruction of any home in its path. A tornado’s deadly force does not selectively discriminate between the site-built and manufactured home or “mobile homes” (those built prior to the HUD Code’s implementation in 1976).
I found a great site for mobile and manufactured housing written by a lady that sells insurance for mobile and manufactured homes and lives in one. It’s called “My Great Home” and she writes about living in a manufactured home as well as repairing, updating and remodeling them. Here is some of her great tips for tornado safety in mobile homes:

Inside your home:
  • Install sturdy “L-brackets” to secure your major appliances to a wall.
  • Install child safety locks on all cabinets.
  • Remove heavy objects from upper shelves.
  • Make sure your hot water heater and furnace are securely attached to your home and not just sitting freely in a utility closet.
  • Learn how to shut off water, gas and electricity.
  • Remove flammable or hazardous materials.
  • Mount hanging pictures on “V” hooks.
Outside your home:
  • Inspect your home’s tie-down system at least every 6 months or after a re-leveling. Make sure the tie-downs are not cracked, torn or rusted.
  • Have a licensed contractor install or make repairs to your tie-down system.
  • Install extra tie-downs to your home.
  • Add tie-downs to outlying structures, such as storage sheds, swing sets, and others.
  • Make sure roofing, awnings, windows and siding are secure and problem-free.
  • Clear your yard of things that could become dangerous debris during a storm, such as dead trees, loose branches, or stray objects like shovels, poles or bikes. Encourage neighbors to do the same.
  • Make sure perimeter fencing is well installed and not loose or rickety.

 Myth #2:
Mobile and manufactured housing is more vulnerable to fire than other forms of single-family housing.

From the Welcome Home Ohio site: People tend to assume that manufactured homes are more prone to fires and other problems than are site-built homes. However, insurance companies have found that manufactured homes, in many ways, are safer than their site-built cousins. The University of Michigan, in fact, found that manufactured homes in the Midwest have a lower rate of fires than site-built homes. Both manufactured and site-built homes have the same copper wiring, but as for the rest, the national building codes are actually tougher than the electrical code that governs most site-built homes. Manufactured homes are safe for you and your family.

The fact is that manufactured homes are no more prone to fire than homes built on site, according to an annual report released by the Oklahoma State Fire Marshall’s office.

Similar studies have echoed the above statement made by the Foremost Insurance Company. A national fire safety study conducted by the Foremost Insurance Company shows that site-built homes are more than twice as likely to experience a fire than manufactured homes. According to this study, the number of home fires is 17 per 1,000 for site-built homes, while only eight per 1,000 for manufactured homes. (source: http://www.mhao.org)

On a personal note, there are several steps you can take to make any home safer. Please put up fire detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries regularly. Have a fire extinguisher at every end of the home and talk to your family about an evacuation plan.

Myth #3:
Manufactured homes do not appreciate in value like 
other forms of housing.
This one is a bit tricky. There are so many factors to take into consideration that literally each home is different and can either depreciate or increase in equity. Considering I’m not a true journalist, I’m going to put this in the easiest format to understand, both for you and me! Here ya go:

A mobile or manufactured home can gain equity and appreciate in value if:
  • The home is attached to a foundation.
  • You own the land.
  • The home is well cared for.
  • There is attached garages or additions built onto the original home.

For many years, people have assumed that the value of manufactured homes depreciates. This is not so. Studies conducted at two Universities revealed that the determining factor of appreciation in both types of homes was their location. Maintenance also plays a major role.

The cost of manufactured homes is significantly lower than the cost of site-built homes. This gives them an instant appreciation between what the home actually cost the homebuyer and what its market value is. In some cases, a multi-section manufactured home has sold for more the second time than the first. Properly setup and well taken care of, you are talking about a fantastic investment potential.

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Myth #4:

Manufactured homes are less energy efficient than 
site-built homes. 
Energy efficiency was not so cool 30 years ago. Now, it’s all you hear about. The energy efficiency in site built homes versus that of a system built home (manufactured) is actually favorable to us in every way. The fact that there are more standards that a system built home has to meet is what makes this myth so dang easy to bust. When the government stepped in several different times (1972, 74, 76, 94 just off the top of my head) the efficiency of the homes were controlled in every aspect. There are barely any controls over a site built home. Following is from The Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma:
 On October 24,1994 a new minimum energy conversation standard became effective. The new energy standards are resulting in lower monthly energy bills, a factor industry officials say will enhance the affordability of manufactured housing and, perhaps, improve mortgage underwriting terms. Improved home ventilation standards have also been adopted in conjunction with the energy standards, a step that will improve indoor air quality and condensation control in manufactured homes.

The new standards rely on computer modeling to identify the optimum cost-effective conservation level for a home located in any one of three regions in the nation. In developing the standards, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development followed Congress mandate to establish standards that “minimize the sum of construction and operating costs” over the life of the home. This emphasis on “life cycle” energy costs is unique among national energy standards.

A new thermal zone map for manufactured housing identifies three regions: the southeastern states are grouped from South Carolina to Texas in Zone I; the mid-zone of the nation is grouped from North Carolina across to California in Zone II; and the remaining northern part of the country is grouped together in Zone III.


HUD’s new standards require that manufactured homes comply with one of three alternative options: design the home’s overall thermal efficiency to account for heat loss through the insulted surfaces of the thermal envelope (better known as Uo-values) for three zones; adjust Uo values with credits for high efficiency heating and cooling equipment; or by totally redesigning the home with new innovative technologies that use no more energy than published Uo values. These efforts are ensuring that manufactured homes remain affordable, not only in start-up costs, but for the life of the home.

There are many differences between manufactured (mobile) homes built before the HUD Code took effect in 1976 and those built afterward. Many manufactured homes made before 1976 are likely to have the following:

  • Air leakage through walls
  • Little or no insulation
  • No vapor retarder in the roof cavity
  • Uninsulated heating system ducts
  • Uninsulated doors.

If you have a pre-1976 manufactured (mobile) home, you may want to make the following energy efficiency improvements to reduce heat loss:

  • Install energy-efficient windows and doors
  • Add insulation to the belly
  • Make general repairs (caulking, ducts, etc.)
  • Add insulation to your walls
  • Install insulated skirting
  • Install a belly wrap
  • Add insulation to your roof or install a roof cap.
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 Myth #5:
Manufactured housing is difficult to finance or must be financed as personal property.

Some buyers of new manufactured homes finance their homes through the retailer where they purchased their manufactured home. Some buyers have arranged their own financing through their bank, savings association or credit union.

Back in the old days, manufactured homes were financed as personal property because they were usually sold without land. Lenders are now offered loan insurance and loan guaranty programs for personal property home loans by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But more than 90 percent of new manufactured homes are placed on permanent foundations on private land and are never intended to be moved. These homes are financed as real estate.

Manufactured homes may be financed as real estate when the home and land are both purchased or owned by the homeowner, the home is on a permanent foundation and the home and land are treated as a single piece of real estate under state law. Both FHA and VA programs for real estate mortgages accept these loans. (Source http://www.rebelhome.net)

So there you go, I completely busted 5 of the most used myths in the world of mobile and manufactured housing. That wasn’t so hard now was it?

As always, thanks so much for reading Mobile Home Living. Please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and share us with your friends and family. Especially those that live in a mobile or manufactured home! Thanks!

Fire photo: http://ferrell-lawfirm.com
If you are looking for a little light reading, may I suggest the following: The 2009 HUD Title 24, Part 3280-Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. I’m completely joking about the light reading part, this is a government document and we all know how long those are! Although I think it may come in handy for anyone wanting to do thorough research on manufactured housing.

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