PREFABRICATED HOMES: MOBILE
A mobile home (also trailer, trailer home, house trailer, static caravan, residential caravan) is a prefabricated structure, built in a factory on a permanently attached chassis before being transported to site (either by being towed or on a trailer). Used as permanent homes, or for holiday or temporary accommodation, they are left often permanently or semi-permanently in one place, but can be moved, and may be required to move from time to time for legal reasons.
Mobile homes share the same historic origins as travel trailers, but today the two are very different in size and furnishings, with travel trailers being used primarily as temporary or vacation homes. Behind the cosmetic work fitted at installation to hide the base, there are strong trailer frames, axles, wheels, and tow-hitches.
Mobile homes and manufactured homes were finally distinguished from each other in 1976 when the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Act became effective.
This act, generally known as ‘the HUD Code,’ sets standards for the following:
The intent of the HUD Code is to improve the durability and quality of manufactured
homes, and it is the only federally-regulated national building code.
Mobile homes and manufactured homes can be placed in mobile home parks, and manufactured homes can also be placed on private land, unless the land is within a subdivision whose CC&Rs prohibit manufactured housing. (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) are limits and rules placed on a group of homes or condominium complex by a builder, developer, neighborhood association, or homeowners association. When living in a home or condominium that is restricted by CC&Rs, an owner gives up certain freedoms in order to be part of a shared community. For example, most condominium building associations have smoking restrictions, parking and noise level rules, aesthetic guidelines for paint color, height restrictions, and minimum and maximum square footage requirements. Sometimes buyers can get access to the documents before making an offer, but in most cases, buyers get a complete list of CC&Rs and community restrictions promptly after signing the initial Purchase and Sale Agreement).
Mobile homes and Doublewides made in the United States are required to conform to federal codes governed by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A mobile home should have a small metal tag on the outside of each section. If you cannot locate a tag, you should be able to find details about the home in the electrical panel box. This tag should also reveal a manufacturing date.
In the United States, these homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), via the Federal National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974. This national regulation has allowed many manufacturers to distribute nationwide because they are immune to the jurisdiction of local building authorities. By contrast, producers of modular homes must abide by state and local building codes. There are, however, wind zones adopted by HUD that home builders must follow. For example, statewide, Florida is at least windzone 2. South Florida is wind-zone 3, the strongest wind zone. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, new standards were adopted for home construction. The codes for building within these wind zones were significantly amended, which has greatly increased their durability. During the 2004 hurricanes in Florida, these standards were put to the test, with great success. Yet, older models continue to face the exposed risk to high winds because of the attachments applied such as carports, porch and screen room additions. These areas are exposed to "wind capture" which apply extreme force to the underside of the integrated roof panel systems, ripping the fasteners through the roof pan causing a series of events which destroys the main roof system and the home.
The popularity of the factory-built homes caused complications the legal system was not prepared to handle. Originally, factory-built homes tended to be taxed as vehicles rather than real estate, which resulted in very low property tax rates for their inhabitants. This caused local governments to reclassify them for taxation purposes.
However, even with this change, rapid depreciation often resulted in the home occupants paying far less in property taxes than had been anticipated and budgeted. The ability to move many factory-built homes rapidly into a relatively small area resulted in strains to the infrastructure and governmental services of the affected areas, such as inadequate water pressure and sewage disposal, and highway congestion. This led jurisdictions to begin placing limitations on the size and density of developments. Early homes, even those that were well-maintained, tended to depreciate in value over time, much like motor vehicles. This is in contrast to site-built homes which include the land they are built on and tend to appreciate in value. The arrival of these homes in an area tended to be regarded with alarm, in part because of the devaluation of the housing potentially spreading to preexisting structures.
This combination of factors has caused most jurisdictions to place zoning regulations on the areas in which factory-built homes are placed, and limitations on the number and density of homes permitted on any given site. Other restrictions, such as minimum size requirements, limitations on exterior colors and finishes, and foundation mandates have also been enacted. There are many jurisdictions that will not allow the placement of any additional factory-built homes. Others have strongly limited or forbidden all single-wide models, which tend to depreciate in value more rapidly than modern double-wide models.
Apart from all the practical issues described above, there is also the constant discussion about legal fixture and chattels – meaning that the legal status of a trailer is, or could be, affected by its incorporation to the land or not. This sometimes involves such factors as whether or not the wheels have been removed.
The city of Cleveland in the state of Mississippi—the poorest in the United States—has made efforts to eliminate its "run-down mobile homes", which the city describes as "unsightly".
The North Carolina Board of Transportation allowed 14-foot-wide homes on the state's roads, but until January 1997, 16-foot-wide homes were not allowed. 41 states allowed 16-foot-side homes, but these were not sold in North Carolina. Under a trial program approved January 10, 1997, the wider homes could be delivered on specific roads, at certain times of day, traveling 10 MPH below the speed limit, with escort vehicles in front and behind. Eventually, all homes had to leave the state on interstate highways. In December 1997, a study showed the wider homes could be delivered safely, but some opponents still wanted the program to end. On December 2, 1999, the N.C. Manufactured Housing Institute asked the state Board of Transportation asked to expand the program to allow deliveries of 16-foot-wide homes within North Carolina. A month later, the board extended the pilot program by three months but did not vote to allow shipments within the state. In June 2000, the board voted to allow 16-foot-side homes to be shipped to other states on more two-lane roads, and to allow shipments in the state east of US 220. A third escort was required, including a law enforcement officer on two-lane roads.
Because of similarities in the manufacturing process, some companies build both types in their factories. Modular homes are transported on flatbed trucks rather than being towed, and lack axles and an automotive-type frame. However, some of these homes are towed behind a semi-truck or toter on a frame similar to that of a trailer. The home is usually in two pieces and is hauled by two separate trucks. Each frame has five or more axles, depending on the size of the home. Once the home has reached its location, the axles and the tongue of the frame are then removed, and the home is set on a concrete foundation by a large crane.
Both styles are commonly referred to as factory-built housing, although that term's technical use is restricted to a class of homes regulated by the Federal National Mfd. Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974.
Most zoning restrictions on the homes have been found to be inapplicable or only applicable to modular homes. This occurs often after considerable litigation on the topic by affected jurisdictions and by plaintiffs failing to ascertain the difference. Most modern modulars, once fully assembled, are indistinguishable from site-built homes. Their roofs are usually transported as separate units. Newer modulars also come with roofs that can be raised during the setting process with cranes. There are also modulars with 2 or 3 stories. As the legal differentiation between the two becomes more codified, the market for modular homes is likely to grow.
With mobile homes, homeownership is much more accessible due to its lower-cost. The lower price per square foot compared to traditional houses means that you will get more bang for your buck.
No need to worry about putting nails in the walls or paying a hefty security deposit. With so many affordable options, you can be the owner of your own mobile home!
Mobile homes are more flexible than stick-built homes. This is especially the case if you are going to put the mobile home on land you own. Since mobile homes are semipermanent, you have the ability to move the mobile home to a different position on your property, or completely remove it to put in a newer mobile home or to build something else.
Also, this could be a benefit if you want to build a brick and mortar home in the future, but don’t have the funds to do it at the moment.
This is related to the one above, and should be fairly obvious (it’s in the name after all) – mobile homes are mobile. It is not as easy as moving a car, nor is it as cheap, but they move much easier than permanent homes. If you decide you want to live in a different neighborhood, you don’t have to leave the comforts of home behind! All the memories you’ve made and the spaces you’ve created can be transported to your new location. Quality Control
Manufacturers construct mobile homes in controlled environments.
Traditional houses are exposed to natural elements while being built and often experience many delays due to the weather. This can lead to significant problems that are hard to detect in those houses.
With a mobile home, you can move in much faster than trying to build a brand new home!
And you know the quality of your home is tested and controlled.
Buying a mobile home is a cheaper way to get into high-priced areas. Beach property, lake property, and certain cities can all have higher land prices. Choosing a mobile home allows you to have a lower cost entry point into those areas in comparison to stick-built options.
If a mobile home is on your privately owned land, then you will have a lower property tax than if your home was considered “real property.” Even if you can’t get the same financing that you would if you built a traditional home, you will see the difference on your tax return!
Mobile homes can be cheaper when it comes to maintenance. No need to worry about installing and maintaining gas lines, plumbing/sewer lines, landscaping, and other property-related issues. Particularly, this is the case when the mobile home you buy/ own is in a mobile home park. Even though having a landlord can be difficult in some cases, there are advantages to paying someone else who is responsible for maintenance and property.
Mobile homes are becoming more eco-friendly in the processes and materials used for their construction.
Mobile homes are built, across the board, with higher quality materials than in past years. Improved quality and a smaller carbon footprint, all for a lower price than a brick and mortar home!
Just add solar power for a sustainable mobile home!
First, a significant disadvantage to buying a mobile home is that its value depreciates like a rock sinks when thrown into a creek.
When a mobile homes leaves the factory the value plummets. Unlike traditional homes, mobile homes do not come part and parcel with a piece of land.
If you are looking to buy a mobile home on land, the value of the total property may go up, but that is not because of the mobile home.
This disadvantage comes from the category mobile homes fall under when dealing with types of property.
Technically, mobile homes fall under “personal property,” while brick and mortar houses are called “real property.”
“Real property” is permanently fixed to land.
“personal property” can be moved. Generally speaking, real will increase in value over time and personal will depreciate.
Because mobile homes are personal property, they are more expensive to finance. Higher interest rates, paired with shorter terms, are par for the course when it comes to financing personal property.
Banks often refer to these loans as, “chattel loans.”
Mobile homes are not anchored-down in most cases. Usually, they are sitting on a lot, which consists of a concrete slab, often called temporary foundations. Due to the lack of a permanent foundation, mobile homes are likely to receive more damage from storms
Design choices are quite limited.
When it comes to mass-produced mobile homes, you will essentially have a few choices of layouts, and they are all shaped like a shoe box.
For those who like to transform pre-existing things into beautiful works of art, this isn’t necessarily an obstacle, and if you read through some blog posts, you’ll find lots of ideas to inspire you.
From remodeling to painting to landscaping, we know you can make your mobile home look and “feel” like it’s yours. However, if you are set on having a custom design and layout, then the lack of choices among mobile homes may disappoint you.
This disadvantage depends on whether or not the mobile home is in a park. Even if you buy the mobile home outright with cold hard cash, but you are in a mobile home park, you will have a landlord. You will still have to operate on someone else’s schedule, procedures, rules, and still pay rent even though you own the home!
Also, if you ever want to sell the mobile home that is in a park, it’s harder to sell, and you will get less than you would if it was not in a mobile home park.
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