I’ve had a lot of calls this week about mobile homes. Mostly, the conversations centered around the differences between trailers and stick-built homes in rehabs. So, I’d like to highlight a few of the major differences you need to be aware of should you decide to purchase a mobile home.
To me, mobile homes are very interesting. I used to watch this show called “How It’s Made” on the discovery channel. It was a really cool show. In one episode they showed the production of mobile homes. As I watched, they started out with the metal frame and put the framing in for the floor system. Next, they put subfloor down and followed it with floor coverings. This was before they framed the walls, which came next. This is important to know because if you ever go to pull carpet in a trailer that came from a manufacturer, the carpet will run under the wall. This means you’ll need to cut around the perimeter of the wall to get the carpet free, which is not a situation you run into in houses.
That’s a small thing, but it can be quite frustrating. The next thing is worse. They use pneumatic gun staples for the pad. This takes forever to get up. In a house, the pad may be stapled with a slap stick, which has smaller gauged staples in it, and they can be easily removed if you scuff your shoes over them. The staples from manufacturers have to be individually pulled.
Doors are different on mobile homes. You cannot use pre-hung doors to replace the interior trailer doors because the framing materials in the walls is thinner than a normal house and so is the sheetrock. This means that the pre-hung frame will be wider than your wall, which means you have to buy door slabs and individually hang each one, cutting pockets out for the hinges.
The exterior doors are different too. Depending on the unit, they do sell a replacement front door that will fit, assuming there is enough head room. Many trailer front doors are about 4 inches shorter than a standard house door. This means you are going to need to get your doors from a mobile home supply place, and they’re not cheap. I got a front and back door and door locks for our current project, and they were $1,600. And they weren’t fancy door either. Contrast that cost with that of front and back doors that we use on a normal house: there around $800 together.
And, depending on what kind of exterior door you have, you may have to buy specialty doorknobs, too.
Another big difference is the plumbing. Every drain in a mobile home has a studor vent on it. Those type of vents have a one-way valve that allows the drain to suck some air when in use but does not allow sewer gas to come into the house. On a normal home, they run a pipe up and out of the roof to vent the drains. This is important to know because if you are having draining issues, more than likely, one of those studor vents has failed.
The plumbing fixtures are different, too. For instance, shower and tub valves are not secured in the framing of the wall like on a house. Instead, they bolt on to the shower surround itself. They are not hard-plumbed either, meaning a rigid pipe is not going directly into the valve. Instead, they have supply lines feeding them. On a house, this is normal at the sink and toilet. But on a mobile home, it will be every fixture.
There are lots of other differences. The electrical receptacles will need to be ordered from a mobile home supply place. You also have to use a specific HVAC coil if you are replacing the one in the home. But it is important to know that most things can be updated with normal house supplies if you so desire. And we normally do that because it makes things easier if we have to do a repair and makes the mobile home feel more like a house.
So, now you know some trailer differences, and I hope you’ll find them handy.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.