50 Incredibly Useful Tips about Mobile Homes
If someone is new to Mobile Home Living and has never been around a factory-built home they probably don’t know what they don’t know. While mobile homes are remarkably similar to site-built homes, there are still differences. For example, financing and installation are more complex but the plumbing is more simplified.
Every one of these 50 tips about mobile homes comes from the almost 700 articles we’ve published over the years. These are all things that I think can help a newbie or a seasoned mobile homeowner.
Over 18 million people are living in a factory-built home in America yet there are no magazines or TV shows and only a few truly helpful online resources for mobile and manufactured homeowners. If someone has never been around a mobile home before they have a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this list of 50 tips about mobile homes will help.
The tips are organized by topic. There are tips for installation and setup, underbelly and skirting, doors, roofing, and buying the best home. Most of these tips about mobile homes will include a link to an article that goes into more detail about the subject.
Installation and Setup
1. It’s been said that improper or incorrect installation of manufactured homes accounts for 80% of all warranty complaints. That tells you just how important it is to make sure your manufactured home is installed properly.
2. For best setup and drainage and to ensure water doesn’t pool under a mobile home HUD recommends the grade under a manufactured home have a 5-6” slope around the first 10 feet around the home. Which equals out to a mere ½” for every foot.
3. A mobile home is built on a cambered chassis meaning it the metal is curved to distribute the weight of the home. Outriggers are the triangle steel attached to the main beams that extend to the edge of the perimeter walls.
Underbelly and Skirting
4. The underbelly of a mobile home is way more important than you realize – there should be no rips or tears in the black material covering the bottom of your home. You can repair mobile home belly boards with special patches and tape.
5. Always make sure plumbers and HVAC (or any contractor) repairs any tears or holes created in the belly wrap after they’ve finished repairs or installs.
6. Vents in your mobile home skirting should be within 3-5 feet of every corner to reduce dead air pockets under your home. These dead air pockets are a perfect environment for mold and mildew.
7. Skirting vents should be open during the summer and closed during the winter.
Doors, Windows, Siding
8. Mobile home doors are usually smaller than doors in site-built homes. Upgrading doors is the #1 home improvement based on return on investment figures.
9. You can replace windows in a mobile home with site-built home windows but you’ll need to retrofit in most cases.
10. You can paint the metal siding on older mobile homes with a brush, roller, or sprayer.
11. Flat metal roofs should be recoated with an aluminum-based roof coating every other year. Take the opportunity to check sealants, caulks, and patches – replace if brittle or cracked.
12. Mobile homes with no eaves need a healthy J-channel above doors and windows to act as a gutter and keep water from hitting them.
13. Eaves help keep the rain off those elements. If ordering a new home or re-roofing your current home opt for 8-12″ eaves.
Walls, Floors, and Ceilings
14. Most walls in a mobile home are covered with VOG (vinyl on gypsum) or POG (paper on gypsum), you can paint VOG and POG.
15. You can remove the strips or battens that cover the seams of the VOG wallboards.
16. You can remove walls in a mobile home but you must ensure that they aren’t load-bearing. Marriage lines, where the two sides meet to form a double wide and perimeter walls are always load-bearing.
17. MDF subfloors soak up water like a sponge. If you are buying a new manufactured home you should have the subflooring upgraded to OSB or plywood.
18. 3% Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) may whiten your ceilings. Shoe polish and chalk are also options that may work.
19. Replacing subfloors in a mobile or manufactured home is a pain but a homeowner with moderate construction experience can probably handle it. If you can afford it, use marine-grade plywood in the bathroom. It holds up against water a lot better than anything else.
Mobile Home Plumbing
20. Every source of water (faucet, tub, dishwasher, washing machine) should have a shutoff valve.
21. Mobile homes often have a lot of ventilation issues in their plumbing systems due to simplified design and smaller pipes.
22. Heat tape is one of the most common fixes for frozen water lines on mobile homes but it must be installed before the pipe freezes.
23. Factory-built homes usually have smaller bathtubs so you can’t easily replace it with a standard tub from Lowe’s or Home Depot. You have 2 choices: buy a bathtub from a mobile home supply store that is double the cost of a standard tub or buy a $129 standard tub from Lowe’s and retrofit it. You’ll need 6″ more inches both ways.
24. Mobile and manufactured home bathtubs are notorious for turning yellow. You may be able to use a special recipe to reverse the yellowing but if not you can paint it
Insulation and Energy Efficiency
25. You should check the flashing and caulking around your windows, doors, plumbing pipes, roof vents every Fall. Replace loose or thin caulking.
26. Having additional insulation blown into your ceiling cavity and under your sub-floor can drastically help your heating and cooling efforts.
27. Older mobile homeowners should try to have insulation blown into their ceiling cavity using the drill and plug process.
28. You must use a mobile home-approved furnace in your home.
Buying a Mobile or Manufactured Home
29. A double wide will have two titles, one for each section. A single wide will only have one.
30. You should never buy a mobile home from anyone that doesn’t have a legal title in their hand with their name on it.
31. In most states, you do not legally own a mobile or manufactured home until the title(s) has been registered in your name. Do it as soon as you buy the home.
32. Whether buying a new or pre-owned manufactured home, pay the $26 to have an online appraisal done on the NADA website.
33. It’s usually never a good idea to use land that you already own as collateral on a manufactured home.
34. Always, always, always have a licensed inspector inspect a pre-owned mobile or manufactured home before buying it.
35. You can get FHA loans for manufactured homes.
36. It’s been said that the average profit for a dealer on every manufactured home sale is $11,000.
37. There are 3 levels of manufactured home quality. The most affordable has the cheapest materials and lots of staples, mid-grade levels are more like site-built homes, and luxury grade is equal to or better than site-built and equally expensive.
38. Do not add insurances, furniture, taxes, warranties, etc. into a dealer-financed loan. If needed get a second private loan from a bank to cover those separately and pay them off quickly. Otherwise, you will be paying double or even triple by the end of the loan.
39. There are 10 builders building 80% of all manufactured homes in the US. Make sure the competitors are really competitors (and not owned by the same corporation).
40. Never buy insurance from a manufactured home salesperson or dealership. Call a licensed insurance agent – you’ll almost always get a better rate.
41. Only 25% of mobile and manufactured home that sits on privately owned land is permanently installed. The pros of being classified as real property usually don’t outweigh the pros of remaining personal property.
42. There are 38 states that have HUD agency offices that monitor and handle complaints between home buyers and builders. These offices are funded by the builders – they have to pay a $24+ fee per section of each home they produce.
43. HUD’s Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is in charge of the manufactured housing construction and safety standards.
44. Keep the manual and the data plate to your home. There are a certificate and important numbers that will be needed if you ever plan to try to get an equity loan or to sell it (the buyer needs the info).
45. Less than 1% of manufactured home loans through a dealer are ever refinanced.
Misc Mobile Home Tips
46. Check to make sure your mobile home is level 90 days after installation, 1 year after installation, and then every 3-5 years. A water level is easy to make.
47. Your dryer should never ever be vented directly under your home. You’re just giving mold and mildew a perfect home and possibly damaging your home. Be sure to seal caulk and seal around the dryer vent.
48. The term ‘mobile home’ was coined by Elmer Frey, the man that fought the state’s highway system so the homes could be 10 foot wide. The additional width allowed for a hallway instead of walking through one bedroom to get to the next. This small improvement made vintage mobile homes viable for full-time living.
49. Mobile home additions aren’t actually attached to the home at all. They just look like it. Additions, porches, and decks must have their own footers.
50. It’s usually best to buy mobile home supplies from a local supply center because returns and shipping are problematic.
More Help for Mobile Home Owners
If you know how to maintain and repair a factory-built home you have an advantage. Fortunately, modern manufactured homes are becoming more like site-built homes every year. They now have similar framing, sheathing, siding, and roofing materials. Still, there are a few things like financing, skirting, and odd sizes that will always be different from site-built homes.
In addition to the 50 tips about mobile homes, we’ve collected a few of our most helpful articles:
If you have any questions or tips you’d like to share please list them in the comments below.
As always, thank you so much for reading Mobile Home Living®!