Learn about Manufactured Home Installation and Setup

Proper manufactured home installation and setup is vital to your home’s healthSimply put, there is nothing more important than having your manufactured home installed and setup correctly and keeping it level.

Improper installation will result in serious damage. The stress on one small part of the structure impacts the entire home. The home will age quicker and the stress causes warping and bowing. After a short time has passed, the homeowners will begin experiencing issues such as leaks and it just goes downhill from there. Unfortunately, by the time the minor issues pop up major damage has been done to the home and it can be expensive to repair or correct the problem.

Education and inspection are the two best defenses against improper manufactured home installation and setup. If a homeowner understands the installation process and is able to ask the right questions they can ensure it is done correctly.

Mobile home manuals - installation and homeowner manuals for popular mobile and manufactured home models
Source: Clayton Homes

Manufacturer’s Home Manual

Regarding manufactured home installation and setup, the builder’s instruction manual shall trump all others.

Think of the national HUD standards as being the base regulations. Their standards are nationwide, but each state has its own (possibly) higher standards based on its average soil and climate environments. The manufacturer’s installation manual will meet all HUD standards, but it is usually much more detailed and will have higher regulations, so it should always be followed.

Click here see for our Directory of Mobile Home Manuals.

The manufacturer’s installation manual will provide details and specifications to meet HUD standards and is usually much more detailed, so it should always be followed.

HUD Regulation for Manufactured Home Installation and Setup

Before 2009, there were few regulations or codes set on a national level to mandate or control manufactured home installation and setup procedures. Several states provided their own guidelines, but minimal standards varied and little to no checkpoints were in place. Thankfully, that’s changing a bit.

Choosing the Right Installers

Home buyers are often put in an awkward situation when it comes to installing their homes.

Typically, a dealership will either have its own installation department or subcontractors or will recommend contractors. Since most home buyers aren’t going to know many installers, they will just use the one recommended to them.

Don’t feel like you have to use the installers or contractors that the dealership recommends. By law, they have to see the home through to the very end regardless of which company does it.

Take your time when choosing the installer for your new home. You just paid thousands of dollars for a home, so you need it installed properly to protect your investment.

Many states require all installers to be licensed and bonded. Google search the name of your state and the term ‘licensed manufactured home installer.’ The search results should include a link to your state’s HUD agency (or relevant office).  Click here for a listing of Florida’s licensed installers. 

You will need to check that the company you choose still has an active license (bonds and insurance are required -if they lapse, the license is no longer active).

Piers falling under a manufactured home - manufactured home inspection

Manufactured Home Installation and Setup Terminology

Learning the lingo and terminology used in the manufactured home installation and setup process is the first step in understanding the process and ensuring that you get your home properly set up.

A  few common terms you should know (courtesy of the Florida Manufactured Home Setup Manual):

Dealer Installers are employees or subcontractors of the dealership where you buy the home. In the US, manufactured home builders cannot sell a home themselves, and there has to be a middleman or dealer (there are a lot of loopholes where builders really are the dealers but through a different company or entity but still owned by the same corporation).

A licensed Installer is an installer that is not a direct employee of a licensed dealer or builder. They must be licensed and bonded if state law requires it.

Stabilizing Devices are piers, footings, ties, anchoring equipment, anchoring assemblies, etc. that support and secure the manufactured home.

Manufactured home installation and setup

There are two main types of foundations, permanent and non-permanent.

Permanent Foundations

There are several types of foundations that a manufactured home can have. The permanency of the installation, chosen appearance, and the home’s location will determine which foundation is used.

If a homeowner owns the land and has no intention of moving the home again, a permanent foundation is usually the best. This kind of installation allows the homeowner the ability to retire the manufactured home’s title and get the property classified as real property.

The three main categories of permanent foundations are floating slab, roll-on, and pit-set. There’s also the basement and roll-on foundations.

Floating Slab Foundations

A floating slab foundation is a poured concrete pad with re-bar or J-bolts installed into the concrete so that the tie-downs can be attached to them instead of Helix Anchors.

The concrete floating slab foundation is usually only 6 inches thick, but due to the way the concrete is formed and shaped, the home can move along with the slab when the ground freezes, avoiding the possibility of cracking the foundation or damaging the home. There is a variable to the single floating slab foundation where two strips of concrete are used instead of one large slab.

Roll-on Foundation

Roll-on foundations are used when a homeowner wants the home to be even with the ground level. A deep foundation is dug out, and reinforced walls are poured so that the home looks as if it is sitting directly on the ground.

Manufactured home installation and setup - placing a manufactured home over a full basement

Pit-set Foundation

A pit-set foundation is similar to a floating slab, except the slab is poured one or two feet below ground level, and walls are poured around the perimeter of the foundation to be even or slightly higher than the ground level. This creates a completely enclosed foundation.

Basement Foundation

Basement foundations are self-explanatory. A full or half basement is built under the home. This single wide is installed over a basement foundation. You can read more about that home here and here.

Manufactured home installation and setup - single wide over a full basement foundation

Non-Permanent Foundations: Pads and Footings

For non-permanent foundations, there are two main choices, pads and footings.

A surface set pad foundation uses cinder blocks on level ground.

A pier footing foundation system consists of several re-bar reinforced concrete columns that are poured to set directly under each pier or block set of the home. These columns may or may not meet the frost-line depth for that location.

The size of the foundation is determined by the soil bearing capacity and the size of the pad. Each state will have a minimum foundation pad size and will state what material the pad can be constructed with. For instance, Florida’s smallest pad size is 16”x16” and can be made of concrete or plastic; wood is unacceptable.

The size of the foundation determines the pier spacing and the amount of weight that each pad can carry. The manufacturer’s installation manual will provide additional information on proper pad sizes. Below is a footing pad diagram from a Skyline Homes manual:

Manufactured home installation and setup - footing pads for manufactured homes

Support Piers

Site-built homes have stem walls on the outside, directly under the exterior walls. Manufactured homes have piers positioned under the chassis.

Piers are made of steel or concrete. There are three main support areas on a manufactured home: the frame or I-beam, the center line, and the outside perimeter.

Perimeter piers must be centered under the I-beam and at the marriage line if the home is multi-section. The spacing of the piers must be carefully calculated by the installer. The block plan discussed earlier is used to determine this spacing.

There are various rules regarding the different piers. Clearance, pier height, single vs double stacked blocks, shims, and many more guidelines must be followed. The homeowner should research to know the specific rules for the home type and the location.

Blocking Plan

A blocking plan will be included with each home installation manual. It will be similar to the one below:

Single wide mobile home blocking plan

The illustrations below portray the various types of piers and footings that a manufactured home can have.

Manufactured home piers and footing installation x

Note: If a double interlocked pier is filled with concrete, it can usually be used up to 80 inches in height.

Blocks under a new manufactured home w straps
Source: unknown

Steel pier and frost line footer:

Steel pier and frost line footings w text x

An illustration showing the difference between perimeter piers and center-line piers:

Perimeter and center line piers for manufactured homes

Anchors and Tie-Downs

Anchors, or tie-downs, are used to anchor the home’s frame to the earth or the foundation.

Improper anchoring or tying down homes is the main reason we see so many homes on their sides on the weather channel. It is not the home itself but the lack of tie-downs or anchoring systems used on the home.

If a new manufactured home is correctly tied down, it can withstand over 110 mph winds.

Screen shot at a m
Source unknown

Types of Anchors and Tie-Downs

Ground Anchor – any device approved by the DMV that is used to secure a manufactured home to the ground to resist wind forces. Ground anchors are rated by working load, which is the maximum load for design purposes. The ultimate load is the working or design load multiplied by the safety factor of 1.5.

Frame Tie or Tie Down – any device or method approved by the department and used to secure the mobile/manufactured home or park trailer to ground anchors to resist lateral wind forces.

Underbelly and blocks under a new manufactured home with tie downs
Source: unknown

Vertical Tie – any device or method approved by the department and used to secure the mobile/manufactured home or park trailer to ground anchors to resist vertical or uplift forces caused by the wind.

Over-Roof Tie – any device approved by the mobile/manufactured home manufacturer or listed by the DMV to be used to secure the manufactured home to ground anchors to resist wind forces. Ties may be installed over metal roofs.

Waynes mobile home service
Source: Wayne’s Mobile Home Service

Hire a 3rd Party Inspector 

The most important advice I can give you is never to sign anything until the home has been completely installed and inspected by a 3rd party that is not affiliated with the dealer or the installer.

Hiring an independent inspector will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it is money well spent. Only after they have inspected everything should you sign anything.

Learn how to paint metal siding on a mobile home here. 

Annual Checks Using a Water Level

A manufactured home should be re-leveled at regular intervals. Homes with complicated foundations or that are high off the ground should be checked annually for the first few years to ensure that settling or shifting hasn’t occurred.

Less complicated installations can probably go 18-24 months between checks. A water-level costs around $50 on Amazon, but you can make your own. Here’s an entire article about leveling a mobile home (and making a water level).

Conclusion

In conclusion, manufactured home installation and setup is one of the most important issues you face as an owner.

Most issues that occur to manufactured homes can usually be traced to a home that’s unlevel or was not properly installed.

As always, thank you so much for reading Mobile Home Living!

60 thoughts on “Learn about Manufactured Home Installation and Setup”

  1. Hello,

    We live in AZ and are considering the purchase of a triple-wide manufactured home with an “Engineered Block Stem Wall” foundation. The home was built by Palm Harbor, which I understand is a reputable builder of homes and RV’s. The house is from 2007. We know nothing about manufactured homes.

    I just wanted to ask if you consider an engineered block stem wall construction to be quality– From my readings it appears to be the foundation of choice for site-built homes as well, so my thinking is that this is a good choice for manufactured homes, in terms of permanence, stability and safety. I can’t seem to find specific articles on the use of block stem walls for manufactured homes. Also, based on online articles, I can’t determine if this is considered a “permanent” vs. “non-permanent” foundation type?

    Also, I know it is difficult or impossible in some cases to get financing to buy a manuf. home, which can be due to the foundation type. Does stem wall construction, because it is also used for site-built homes, imply good financing options? This would be a consideration as we would eventually need to consider the resale value of the property.

    I assume any issues will come up during inspection, but are there any questions you recommend that we should ask the seller regarding the foundation?

    Thanks for any insight you may have!

    Erroll
    Sedona, AZ

  2. Hi Cathi,

    You may just need a pro to come in and reattach or tighten your marriage line. It’s an issue that a lot of manufactured home owners have but thankfully it can be fixed in a day. best of luck!

  3. Patricia – what happened to your home? My roof landed in my front yard due to a straight line wind ( I am in Oklahoma) my marriage seam is having the same issues. It is like my house is coming apart into two pieces. What did you do to repair or fix your home?

  4. Oh Patricia,

    You need to have that home inspected for damage and either reinstalled properly or replaced. For one, the installer should have been using safety ricks under the home while it was being installed. A manufactured home will never be perfectly level but it shouldn’t have that much of a separation. If you haven’t signed anything yet please don’t until the home issue is fixed. Best of luck!

  5. I had a new 32 by 80 installed on my property. During setup jacking the front half to the back something happened and there was a Big Bang and I saw that half roll like on a wave. When they finished putting it together there is a gap between the marriage wall from 1 1/2 inch at one end to 2 1/2 inches at the other end. The roof on one end is 3 to 4 inches longer on the front half than the back.

  6. Hi. I am buying a 1980 Windsor 14×70, 2BR, 2BA Mobile Home and am having trouble finding details I need to provide to the State so it can be moved as well as titled. I have looked online but have found very little info on Windsor Mobile Homes, Inc. from Bristol, IN even though seem to have been in business for atleast 30 years, since the 1950s.

    I am looking for floor plan info, VIN, Model #, etc. It needs renovation at minimum but it would increase value if I could find more details.

  7. Hi Keith,

    Sounds like you’re dealing with a standard re-leveling issue. Manufactured homes need to be re-leveled regularly (in some cases every other year when the ground is soft). This is considered a standard maintenance issue and since you’ve already bought the home and didn’t know to look for it during the buying process I doubt there would be anyone responsible but you (there are little to no installation laws for manufactured homes). Parks would not be liable for the issue as it’s def a home issue. Not every home is put on pads though that is an ideal situation. Here’s an article on re-leveling. Since you know the ground is soft it is a good idea to go ahead and buy a water level and check the home every summer.

    Best of luck!

  8. Hi Rhonda,
    That was a lot to read and I’m terribly sorry the kids are dealing with this. I’m just going to answer as my brain thinks so bear with me.
    I dislike parks for these kinds of reasons. Tenants have little to no recourse and with a land/home package, it’s double the nightmare. I’m so glad they have you on their side. You are doing everything you are supposed to be doing – mostly writing letters and keeping extensive records of everything.
    I think 32 states have their own HUD state agency that you can contact directly for complaints and issues when it comes to manufactured homes (builders and dealers). The other state requires you deal with the HUD office in DC. You will also want to contact your state’s manufactured homeowner’s association.
    Unfortunately, parks are not regulated nationally at all and most states give parks absolute power to do anything they want. For instance, in Louisiana, a park only has to give a tenant 10 days to move their home if they decide to close or sell and I believe even evict a tenant. No one can find a place to put a manufactured home or come up with the thousands needed to have the home transported.
    Every new manufactured home has a 1-year warranty but that only covers the building of the home. There are no national regulations or laws mandating the installation of the home even though that’s where the majority of issues stem from. Keep writing the dealer and the installers. Stay on them and create a paper trail so that there is clear proof of your complaints. However, with installers, there really is no recourse other than small claims court and BBB (which is pretty much useless and a scam in itself).
    As far as the grade of the site, that’s really a fairly simple fix. HUD recommends that there be a 6″ slope for the first 10′ around the home. A little dozer work and a french drain or two can remedy just about any kind of water or moisture issues on a site. I’ve seen manufactured homes installed in near swamps in SC but with the right grading and preparation, it was turned into a fine lot. You can read more about manufactured home site prep here.
    You are correct, homeowners are responsible for the re-leveling of their homes and it’s recommended to do it 2 years after install and then 3-5 years thereafter. It’s important that the home be installed correctly from the get-go.
    How did they do the footers? Were the poured below frost line? If all that was done I don’t see how they didn’t grade it as well. There are several installation ‘systems’ – many states allow them. It’s special piers and pads that the home sits upon. If they used those and didn’t pour footers of any kind then there was likely no site-prep done at all and that’s the issue. The tie-downs are very important to make sure that they are installed at every place the manual states. Get the manual for the home, it will tell you exactly what type of pier configuration is required for the home (every home is different based on layout and weight).
    Hope I helped. I tried to cover everything you mentioned! Best of luck!

  9. Hello,
    I am having a difficult time with the park who sold my daughter and her fiance a brand new home, the seller placed this home in its current location and the homeowners had no say where it was placed.
    First, we found out this week the is missing the 4 anchors required for installation, the installer admitted this and yes I have it on video although they were unaware of my doing so. There is absolutely no doubt that the installation as well as the site prep, was improperly done per not only Texas Code but Fleetwood Homes guidelines and since this is a HUD home there may be more rules broken.
    Next, the seller placed the home on a lot that is non-conducive for a manufactured home due to the natural drainage that occurs on the lot itself. Since the new homeowners are responsible for any future releveling after their first as well as having to “build up” this lot to attempt to keep water from entering underneath their new home this will occur at a rate of four times more often than a homeowner who owns a home that was properly installed, the site preparation done correctly, and on a site that does not allow for water running underneath it. This will be necessary yearly without a doubt and you cannot permanently keep the water from entering under the home.
    Currently, I am preparing a letter detailing these facts proposing that seller either move their home to another lot of the homeowners choosing or alternatively that the seller be responsible for any out of pocket expenses for any releveling over and above that of a home that is properly installed and without issues that this lot present. I will contact the agency in Texas if they choose to do neither and possibly retain legal representation for my daughter if necessary.
    This has been a nightmare of major proportions for these young kids and I am wondering if you may have any other laws that you are aware of that I might be able to get the seller to do the right thing here. What should have been a great experience has turned out to be the bain of all of our existence. But, knowing the law, it never hurts to seek more information.
    Also, when the installer came out and reviewed the new home’s installation, he mentioned that the home has a “system” it looks to be a V looks like led pipes in a triangle, he told me that it is approved in these installations I cannot find that. I do know that all the other homes out there that have been recently installed DO NOT have this contraption underneath them! I am concerned, should I be?
    Sorry to hit you with so much, but this is important and I do not wish to see these young kids be taken advantage of.
    Thanks in advance for any information you may be able to pass this way!
    R

  10. Where I live, no seller will let you have the home without getting paid first. It sucks, but it is the way they are.

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