In our last post we shared the latest update of “The Whim,” a gorgeous cedar-shake sided single wide owned by Marie and Richard. It sits beside a lake in Wisconsin and is, by all measures, a perfect example of the unlimited potential that mobile homes have.
The home was situated on a slight slope and has a 9-foot tall basement. Since there isn’t a lot of information about basements under mobile homes I asked Marie to share some of her thoughts on it. The Whim has been such a great inspiration on Mobile Home Living and with Marie’s proven experience in mobile home DIY, she’s a perfect source for us to get information.
Advantages of Having a Basement Under Mobile Homes
There are advantages to having a basement. First, it provides somewhat of a shelter in case of a tornado. Although, if a storm is bad enough, the home will fly off the foundation anyway. That could happen to a conventionally built home as well. Second, it provides added storage. Third, in this case of a mobile home, it is much better than skirting! Repairing those can be constant. Wind and snow can take their toll. I cannot tell you how many mobile homes in our area have busted water pipes from our cold Wisconsin winters! Not a pretty sight… We don’t have to worry about “extra tenants” under our house, either.
The previous owner had the foresight to plan the foundation before having the home brought to the sight. It is more difficult to excavate for and build a basement after the home is set.
However, the previous owner had neglected to plan for adequate ventilation. We are trying to figure out how to accomplish this. Installing some sort of windows or vents in the walls in between the home and the concrete blocks before everything was set would have been much easier. We are considering installing house vents/fans like you would for an attic on a conventionally built house. There may be other options to explore. By not having the proper ventilation, things get musty and mold grows on everything. Anything soft like paper, cardboard or fabric can be destroyed and soak up any moisture at all. Even though we don’t have any leaking or seepage problems, there is still moisture.
The other dilemma is the entrance to a basement. Because the home is already designed and built, these types of homes do not allow for stairwells. So, the easiest way is to enter through an old fashioned cellar door! We have considered putting in a spiral staircase either in the living room or the area with the laundry. I don’t like this idea. First, because you can’t have a door that separates the main living floor from the basement (odors and bugs can roam free, yuck). Second, because you will also lose what floor space you already have! Although we could use the laundry area for a conventional stairwell, then those appliances can be moved into the basement. Also, not a good idea because I’ve become accustomed to doing the laundry without going up and down the stairs! That’s a really good concept when in retirement years.
The cellar door can be locked, but we don’t do that. Locks can freeze in the winter and get buried by snow. So we lock the door at the base of the stairs leading into the basement. At the opposite end of the basement, an overhead garage door provides added warmth and security to our walkout patio doors. I thought this was a very smart idea.
Added Storage Potential of Basements Under Mobile Homes
The basement holds our sump pump, water softener, and well tank on one end and our recreational things on the other. There are a few shelves built-in next to the stairwell and I set odd things there, like ice fishing tip-ups and pottery (until the shed is cleared out from table saws and other large equipment). We are currently also using the basement area to store tools and some supplies during our redo (the shingles were stored in the garden shed and any wood was stacked next to the Whim). I’ve also got a couple of sawhorses set up so I can stain and finish the new interior doors and a new exterior door.
We’re already thinking of adding a small bathroom (just a sink and toilet) to make it easier and much cleaner than entering the house when having outdoor activities and gatherings. We are also considering dropping the furnace and the water heater into the basement. Doing this will add to the floor space on the main floor and we don’t have to worry about a possible leaking water heater ruining the floors. It will also make the heating/cooling a lot quieter. We recently installed central air to the existing furnace. I would like a stationary tub for heavy duty work outside or for cleaning fish.
It stays pretty cool in the basement and with the patio doors open, it adds another area for entertaining if it rains or just to get out of the sun!
Basements are too often thought to be something that mobile homeowners can’t do. But, it absolutely can be done and the advantages are immense.
There are a lot of great advantages to having a basement under your mobile home. Storage, safety, and convenience are only the beginning. There’s also a lot to consider if you are going to install a new home over a basement or if you plan on adding a basement to an existing mobile home. Ventilation and moisture control seem to be the most important aspect that is often neglected. Proper construction methods are equally important. There’s no room for any errors in the setting of the home. If you plan on installing a basement be sure to hire contractors that have plenty of experience with mobile homes and understands the way they are built.
Thanks, Marie, for your continuing contributions to MMHL and your endless inspiration. I appreciate you taking the time to share your lovely lake home and for all the great knowledge.
As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!