Stick-built homes have a lot of things in common, even if the architectural styles are quite different. When comparing stick built to a manufactured or mobile home, some differences go much deeper than cosmetics or architectural preferences.
According to StateMaster, about 8 percent of American homes on average are manufactured. South Carolina has more than another state at 18 percent. New Jersey has fewer at 0.9 percent.
Unless you live and work in the District of Columbia, which has almost none, chances are you’ll eventually inspect a manufactured home. Here are some of the most important things you need to know.
Find the Home’s Data Plate
Mobile homes are delivered with a data plate that has vital information about the home’s manufacture. Hopefully, the homeowner left the plate in place but you might not find it. Some homeowners remove or paint over it.
The North Carolina Department of Insurance says this plate is usually mounted on the home in a “protected location.” It might be in a closet or inside a cabinet.
The plate should tell you:
- Name and address of manufacturer
- Manufacture date
- Serial and model number
- HUD code certification (which indicates building code compliance)
- Design information such as roof, floor and wind loads
- Type, brand, and model of installed equipment
- Name and contact information of independent inspector
- HUD label number
- Additional details and instructions for owning and maintaining the home
Inspect the Home’s Foundation Piers
Manufactured homes often sit on a pier block or concrete block foundation. Skirting might obscure the foundation. If so, you’ll need crawl space access to inspect it.
Piers should be straight and plumb with no visible damage such as cracks. McGarry and Madsen home inspectors say the characteristic holes through pier blocks should face up so the piers are solid on all sides. Where the home has major openings, such as French doors or a sliding glass door, the home needs additional pier support.
Check for signs of rot and cracks at the pier caps and that shims used to level the home are in good condition.
Pay Close Attention to the Anchor Straps
Manufactured homes rely heavily on anchor straps for stability. They help improve the home’s resistance to swaying or leaning during normal use and under extreme weather conditions. In areas where high winds are a problem, local requirements might include additional strapping or hurricane straps.
McGarry and Madsen say you should note these characteristics on your report:
- Type of anchor straps
- Strap spacing
- Method used to secure straps to the home’s frame and the ground
- Signs of corrosion
- Missing anchors
Manufactured homes make up a smaller portion of American private residences, but there’s still a significant number in almost every state. They make the American dream of home ownership an attainable goal for more families.
Some manufactured homes have impressive features that rival stick-built, such as natural wood flooring, luxury bathrooms, and high-efficiency windows. Some are installed and finished in such a way that it’s difficult to tell whether it’s a manufactured home at all. That’s especially true when a home has a solid foundation instead of piers.
Inspecting a manufactured home isn’t much different from stick-built, but the differences matter to the buyer. Your home inspection gives them the information they need to make an informed buying decision. If you’re ready to start a career that’s a real service to the community, enroll now with ICA School and learn at your own pace.