There are two ways to buy a mobile home - with an inspector or without one. Because of the lower price points, most buyers don’t want to pay the additional cost that comes with hiring a professional inspector. Fortunately, you can follow these steps to do a mobile home inspection on your own.
Look at the Foundation
A manufactured home only has wheels when it’s being transported. When the home gets to its permanent place, an installer removes the wheels and axles. Then, the chassis becomes a part of the foundation. You should avoid buying a home with a rusty or broken chassis.
When you buy a home, do an exterior inspection of the foundation. Is there rust on the chassis? Does the concrete pad or pilings have a crack in it? If there is excessive rusting or cracking, you may want to rethink your purchase. And, if the home seems unlevel, you could need to pay upwards of $1000 to level it.
Feel the Flooring
As you walk into a mobile home for sale, pay attention to how the floor feels. Typically, manufactured homes have floor joists covered by plywood or composite wood. Over time, the joists or plywood could deteriorate. Replacing the entire subfloor of a manufactured home could cost over $6,000.
If you feel any soft spots in the floor, you may need to cut into the floor and replace a few joists. One or two small soft spots isn’t a big deal, but a large soft area indicates you probably need a full floor replacement. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy the home. Rather, it means you should factor the repair cost into the price of the home.
If you’re buying a renovated home, ask the seller about the subfloor. Did they do any work to the subfloor? Does the home have a vapor barrier? A vapor barrier keeps out pests and prevents moisture from seeping into your home. If someone remodeled the floor and didn’t use a vapor barrier, you should factor in the installation costs into your purchase offer.
Examine the Siding and Skirting
If you’re buying a home in a park, you should look at the siding and skirting very closely. Some parks have strict requirements about the appearance of their homes. At times, mobile homes have broken skirting or outdated siding that doesn’t comply with the park regulations.
You should also pay attention to the type of siding on the home. If the side of the home is metal, it may look outdated. Vinyl tends to look nicer, and you might want to upgrade an older home to have vinyl siding. If you have outdated skirting, you should consider updating that as well.
Seek Out Leaks
One of the biggest problems you could have with manufactured housing is a leaky roof. Unfortunately, you probably don’t want to get a ladder and walk around the roof of a home. Doing so puts you in danger and is unrealistic.
There are two ways you can check for leaks. First, look at the interior ceiling. Walk through every room and look for signs of staining or water damage. If you find anything, ask the owner about leaks. Sometimes, the damage is from an old roof issue that’s already been repaired. But if the damage is from an existing leak, you should decrease your purchase price.
Another way to examine the roof is to get a selfie stick and a ladder. Without going up on the roof, you can use the selfie stick and your phone to get a visual of everything. If you see any holes or problems, consider the repair costs. A new roof could cost you over $10,000 and water damage could make your home worthless.
Open the Windows
This might sound like an unusual tip. But people often neglect to look at the windows in mobile homes. If you’re looking at a 1970’s or 1980’s home, it probably has jalousie or otherwise outdated windows. These windows are prone to breaking and, at times, don’t even lock.
Because replacing the windows in a mobile home can be costly, you should consider the state of the windows before you make an offer. Old windows are poorly insulated and could pose a security risk. If the home has newer windows, look for signs of water damage. Improper installation could cause water to come into the home, and this in turn could cause mold growth.
While you’re looking at the windows, be on the lookout for signs of termites. Windows that don’t open or close well indicate the possibility of termites. If you find any wings or coffee-ground droppings, you could also be looking at termite activity. An existing infestation could mean that you need to replace the studs in the walls.
Look at the HVAC System
Although mobile homes are easier to cool and heat than traditional homes, they still have HVAC issues. First of all, find out what type of HVAC system the home has. Is there a window unit or central air? You should also find out about the heater. If the home you want to buy doesn’t have heating, you may not be able to get insurance. Most insurance companies require homes to have some type of permanent heating solution.
Ask the owner about the age of the HVAC system, and then try to verify the age by inspecting the unit. If the HVAC system is older than 12 years old, it might not last you much longer. A replacement won’t be cheap.
Consider the Electric and Plumbing System
While some mobile homes were built to last, you shouldn’t put much faith in the plumbing and electrical system of a 60’s or 70’s home. Generally, the electric systems from the 70’s aren’t up to current codes. And the plumbing systems are unlikely to last for more than three decades.
If the previous owner hasn’t upgraded the electric or plumbing, you might need to. Ask to look at the breaker box and look for signs of age or trouble.
Getting a Checklist for your Mobile Home Inspection
Are you looking to do your own mobile home inspection? If you don’t have the money or time to hire an inspector, you need to be on the lookout for any issues. You can download this mobile home inspection checklist to get started.
Written by Danielle Hicks, owner of themhlife.com