Among all things housing, mobile homes are the trendsetters. And for good reasons, as these homes offer all the features of a traditional home but on a shoestring budget.
In fact, a mobile home can be as good as the most premium villas out there, thanks to the limitless personalization options.
So if you’re looking to buy one such prefab home, get ready to be a part of a 22 million-strong coast-to-coast community who’ve made these houses their homes.
However, there’s a catch.
A comprehensive home inspection by following a reliable mobile home inspection checklist is a must-have when buying these homes. And this is all the more essential when buying a used home.
You see, like with a regular home, there can be a lot of structural and other issues in mobile homes that are hard to detect by the naked eye. Meaning even though a home looks perfect from the outside, it might have several underlying problems.
As such, it’s important to hire a licensed home inspector and get all the checklist items inspected thoroughly.
Now, if you’re wondering what this checklist looks like, you’re at the right place. Read on as we’ve dwelled upon every aspect of mobile home inspection and more.
What is a mobile home in the first place?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of mobile home inspection, it’s important for you to understand what these homes precisely are.
To put it simply, a mobile home is a prefabricated home that is built in a factory, unlike regular homes that are constructed on-site. Once built, it is transported to your property, where installation experts attach the different parts, such as the wall and roofing panels and set up the entire structure.
And this is exactly why a mobile is also called a manufactured home, with both terms being used synonymously.
Also, contrary to conventional houses, a prefab home is made with lighter materials and usually has a smaller HVAC system.
Why get a mobile home inspected?
An in-depth inspection of manufactured homes at the time of purchase and at regular intervals is a smart move that goes a long way to ensure overall safety.
Moreover, when buying a pre-owned mobile home, an inspection ensures that you not only invest in the right place but make the most out of it.
You see, while a home may look in top shape from the inside out and might even be priced at a premium for the same reason. However, it can still have some inherent problems that can range anywhere from minor plumbing woes to severe electrical or structural faults.
Worse, you can’t detect these problems from the naked eye, which only lets them amplify over time and pose serious safety hazards to the residents.
By hiring a seasoned mobile home inspection team, you can detect all the hidden issues with precision. And this, in turn, will allow you to make a well-informed decision on your purchase.
Bonus: Always include a home inspection contingency clause in your contract
Looking to buy a pre-owned mobile home?
We suggest you include a home inspection contingency clause in the purchase contract.
This contract allows you to conduct a detailed inspection as per the used mobile home inspection checklist.
Also, it lets you renegotiate the entire purchase agreement, including the pre-agreed cost. Meaning you can either ask the seller to fix the problems flagged in the inspection or reduce the cost of the property.
Moreover, you can also roll back your purchase offer and back out of the deal if the inspection flags issues in the property.
After all, buying a home calls for a fat cheque investment. And you want it to be full-proof, don’t you?
Mobile home inspection checklist: Here’s what you need to lookout for
Now that you’ve seen why it’s so crucial to get a mobile home inspection, you might be wondering how you can get such homes inspected.
So let’s have a look at the prefab home inspection checklist in detail and see what needs to be examined and why.
1. Home foundation inspection
While a foundation inspection is an essential component of any home inspection checklist, it becomes even more important in manufactured homes.
Well, one of the major differences between a conventional and a mobile home is the foundation, which in the latter’s case is quite peculiar.
Unlike regular home buildings, a mobile home is built upon a chassis, which is then integrated into the foundation.
Talking about the mobile home foundation itself, it can be anywhere from concrete blocks on crushed rocks to a pier and beam-based foundation.
So when it comes to inspecting the foundation, there are a few things you should keenly observe, including:
The condition of the chassis
To start with, you can have a look at the chassis of the home and try to spot signs of damage, such as rust, cracks, curls, etc. If you don’t detect these signs, it means the chassis is in good condition and can support the home’s structural systems for years.
The condition of the foundation
Whether the home has a concrete or a pier and beam foundation, a close examination is necessary as no foundation is immune from damage.
Look for signs such as cracking, spalling, seepage, etc. Also, make sure you check whether or not the frame anchors or tie-down straps have loosened.
Additionally, you should also conduct a strength test of the foundation to see if it can handle the weight of the home. That’s because a weak foundation can start sinking into the ground in no time, more so in conditions such as wet weather and soft soil.
Local code compliance
Lastly, it’s essential to check if the foundation of a prefab home complies with the local codes.
While some municipal laws allow for concrete-based foundations, others permit pier and beam foundations. However, it is possible that some mobile homes aren’t compliant.
Thus, we suggest you check if the foundation complies with the local laws, as the legal consequences of non-compliance can be severe.
2. Flooring inspection
Another major area of inspection in manufactured homes is the flooring.
These homes have a frame-based flooring system, which is made up of either wood composite decks or plywood sheets placed atop floor joists. And although the floors have built-in protection systems such as moisture barriers and floor coverings, they’re still exposed to wear and tear.
Furthermore, the fact that mobile homes aren’t constructed on a regular foundation means that the bottom portion of the flooring isn’t protected from the elements.
So you should look for signs of flooring damage such as soft spots, waviness, seeping or pooling water, holes, etc. Also, it’s clever to check whether or not the flooring meets the HUD specifications for quality and rigidity.
3. Water damages
Mobile homes are highly vulnerable to water-induced damage. And that’s especially true for the wet and humid weather that lays bare these homes to a lot of waterborne issues.
Water damage can manifest in different ways, including leaking or staining roofs and windows, mold in wall cavities, gutters overflowing, etc. Similarly, mobile homes with metal roofs may exhibit signs like rusting and cracking, which are also water damage symptoms.
All of these damages can lead to severe structural woes and, in worse cases, could even lead to partial or total structural collapse. Add to it the several CDC-identified health risks that it poses, and you’ve got a serious problem at hand.
As such, we can’t overstate the importance of looking for these damages during the inspection and flagging them to the seller.
4. Electrical systems
Did you know that about 13 percent of all household fire accidents are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions?
To put it straight, you can’t ignore the electrical components of a mobile home during pre or post-purchase inspection.
In fact, the importance of electrical safety inspection is such that it’s a part of both mobile and trailer home inspection checklists.
However, given the complex nature of electrical inspection and the risks it carries, we suggest you leave it to licensed professionals and don’t try to carry out the inspection yourself.
You can, nevertheless, look for certain signs of electrical damage or failure, such as damaged or hanging wires. Similarly, you can also look at the breaker panels and check if they comply with the local codes.
A lot of mobile homeowners prefer DIY electrical repairs, making extension cords and hanging wires commonplace. Be on the lookout for such things, as they are clear signs of electrical safety risks.
5. Doors and windows
The doors and windows can provide signals about how structurally sound a mobile home is, apart from determining insulation levels and moisture resistance.
And that’s exactly why we have a door and window inspection as an essential mobile home inspection checklist item.
Firstly, you can check the sealings on doors and windows. The easiest way to do so is to see if daylight or artificial light penetrates through the sealants.
If the sealing is damaged, there’s a good chance that the home’s interior space is exposed to mold and mildew.
Secondly, you should inspect the windows and see if they’re well insulated. More so since mobile homes have single-pane windows, and chances are that they’ve not been insulated properly.
Thirdly, and most importantly, see if the doors and windows align and close properly. If they don’t, it’s a sign that the home’s functional or structural systems are fragile and the home is sinking.
6. Vapor or moisture barrier inspection
A vapor barrier is considered the first line of defense in mobile homes. And rightly so, as this barrier prevents damage to the home’s surface from elements beneath the ground.
As we saw earlier, manufactured homes lacking a traditional foundation have their underside exposed to elements, thus making the vapor barrier critical.
You can inspect the vapor barrier by looking for signs of declamation, sagging, etc., as these issues hint at potential wood subfloor damage or mold infestation.
Nonetheless, most of these issues are common and can be easily remedied by changing the vapor barrier.
7. Wall inspection
A wall inspection in a mobile home involves a close examination of all the walls inside out. Herein, you can begin by simply walking across all areas of the home and pushing the walls at places to check whether they’re wobbling.
Similarly, you can look at the type of sidings used in the wall to develop an understanding of potential damage.
For instance, while wooden siding walls have leakages at seams and joints, those with metal sidings have potential leakages at doors and windows.
8. Ceiling and roofing inspection
Although it seems hard, inspecting the ceiling and roofing in mobile homes is simple. All you’ve got to do is visually spot issues such as stains, sags, etc.
In the same way, you can look for signs of corrosion and rusting in metal roofing shingles.
9. Septic inspection
Inspecting the septic tank isn’t usually a part of a used mobile home inspection checklist unless you’re planning on staying put at the same property.
Also, a septic inspection involves examining the septic tank as well as the sewer lines through a thorough inspection procedure. As such, this should be left to the expertise of home inspection service providers.
Mobile home inspection checklist: Things to consider
Closely examine new/DIY additions
When buying a used mobile home, it’s essential that you carefully analyze the add-on sections.
Why, you might wonder?
You see, unlike traditional homes, manufactured homes usually aren’t as big and spacious. So it’s common for homeowners to build additional sections, mostly using DIY methods and techniques.
The problem is that most of these home additions are done on the foundation designed to support the original structure. Also, DIY construction can have its own faults and might not be in accordance with safety norms.
As such, it’s important you analyze two things in particular:
- First, whether or not the additional sections are built on a separate foundation.
- Second, the DIY construction has followed all the local codes and passes safety tests.
Look for DIY electrical work
Like we discussed earlier, many mobile homeowners prefer DIY electrical work over hiring a professional electrician. And this can involve rookie mistakes, faulty installation, use of unsafe aluminum wires, absence of GFCI protection, etc.
So you should be on the lookout for such electrical systems in particular.
Some factory-made homes are easily damageable
A common problem with a lot of manufactured homes is the lack of sturdiness. Unfortunately, mobile home inspections often fail to take into account this factor.
While not a part of the home inspection checklist, factoring in the strength of the home is essential, as a highly sturdy mobile home will stand strong in extreme weather events.
Whether you’re buying a mobile home or residing in one, regular inspections in line with a mobile home inspection checklist are a prerequisite. That’s because not only do these inspections ensure you invest in the right property, but they are also critical for occupants’ safety.
Looking to conduct a thorough inspection in one such manufactured home?
You can get in touch with us!
At Homestead Property Inspections, we are Southern Florida’s most seasoned home inspectors. And we specialize in all mobile home inspection checklist items and more.
In short, we’re the one-stop shop for all your home inspection needs.