Mobile Homes as an Option

Baker Fred "Gene"  |  5/1/2007 6:43:13 PM

Living in a mobile home is one option to consider when planning for your future housing needs. In the past, mobile homes typically were considered starter homes. But today, many people are choosing to make mobile homes their permanent dwelling.

The name “mobile home” was changed to “manufactured home” by the industry in an attempt to change the image of this type of structure; however, the name "mobile home" is still commonly used.

Since 1976, manufactured homes have had to conform to HUD standards for strength, energy efficiency, wiring and other utilities and installation. There have been several federal law changes since that time, and many states have adopted laws that are stricter than the federal requirements. The following are some advantages and disadvantages of mobile or manufactured houses relative to traditional houses.

Advantages:

  • The initial cost is usually lower than that of conventional homes.
  • Manufactured homes can be located in mobile home parks, which further reduces the cost by eliminating the requirement to own land and develop the site. Most monthly site rentals are reasonable in cost.
  • Manufactured homes are sold with appliances and furniture, although many people find the quality of these appliances to be minimal.
  • Manufactured homes can be ordered from the manufacture to suit the owner's taste in floor plans, color scheme and so forth.
  • Manufactured homes provide quick housing opportunities.
  • Manufactured homes can be moved to other locations.

Disadvantages:

  • Financing terms are not as favorable as terms for conventional housing.
  • Manufactured homes depreciate more rapidly.
  • Manufactured homes are considered less safe in wind storms. Even with the standards required by HUD and states, the very nature of a structure light enough to be transportable is not as structurally strong as conventional housing. Tie-downs, even when installed correctly, provide protection only up to 50-60 mph winds.
  • Manufactured homes are less energy-efficient. Manufacturers do offer energy-efficient packages, including more insulation and tighter construction. These upgrades compensate for the fact that a long, narrow structure has more wall area subject to heat gain and loss. Proper orientation is very important with mobile homes. Standard air conditioning and heating equipment is at the low end in quality and efficiency.
  • Manufactured homes are not allowed by ordinances in some municipalities and geographic areas.
  • Quality of materials used in the wiring, plumbing, hardware, doors, windows and siding is not as durable as those used in conventional homes.
  • Relatively few mobile home parks offer the services and environment of traditional housing developments.
  • Manufactured home warranties are different. These structures are not covered by traditional housing warranties. If purchasing, be sure to know how the warranty works. It is advisable to use an attorney to explain the differences.

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