Do Manufactured Homes Need to be Leveled?

Share

Manufactured Homes need to be thoroughly leveled when initially installed onto the site to prevent uneven settling of the home onto the ground over time. A flat site is easier to level a home versus a site with a varying topography, which might require land grading. After placing the home on the foundation, the home must be leveled by professional contractors and it is recommended to check the home’s level after 90 days of installation. After moving in, it is recommended to check if the home is unlevel annually or every 3-5 years. Once you suspect the home is unlevel, call a professional to have the home checked as this has serious structural implications should this go unattended.

Image from Leveling Prefabricated Homes l Clayton Studio (claytonhomes.com)

Leveling Upon Delivery and Initial Move In

Upon initial delivery of your home, it’ll be placed onto the foundation then be leveled. Leveling ensures the home’s dead load is equally distributed onto the soil, so the entire floor is at one straight level as it transfers its weight and sinks in evenly.

One must access the crawl space or underbelly of your manufactured home and use a leveling tool, such as a water level to check if your home is level from end to end. The contractor will then make the necessary adjustments and tweaks until your home is level. (1)

If your land is uneven and has several elevations, the leveling process will be a bit more tedious. This may entail either elevating one end of the home to meet the highest elevation, or some serious land grading to even out the varying topography to a flat plane.

Leveling After Living In For Some Time

It’s normal for a home to grow unlevel after some time. This means it’s settling into the soil unevenly. This is natural for it to happen but shouldn’t go unattended and needs re-leveling by a local professional.

If you have a pier and beam foundation, it is recommended to relevel your home every three to five years. If you have a deep permanent or slab foundation, you’ll only revel once you notice anything feels off. Those living in areas with frost heaves may need a more frequent re-leveling annually. (2)

Image from How to block level a mobile home – Home Nation

Why Homes Grow Unlevel Over Time

Unleving of a home can be due to many factors such as added stress on some parts of your foundational piers or accumulated moisture softening your ground soil. If they’ve been initially set wrong, then they’re bound to settle into the ground unevenly. Especially if you notice this shortly after moving in, this may be due to a misstep during installation. This is why professional installers recommend a check 90 days after your home installation. Unleveling can also happen if a lack of supports or piers were used.

Be cautious of the signs that show your home has grown unlevel. Here are a few signs by How Can You Tell If A Manufactured Home Has Become Unlevel? | Manufactured Home Parts And Accessories: (3)

  1. Creaks, pops, squeaks, or other bizarre sounds coming from the floor, walls, or roof. The floor may also feel spongy when you walk on it.
  2. Doors sticking and swinging unlike they did before. Both windows and doors won’t latch properly (fail to align to the catch hole).
  3. Cracks in the walls, floors, or ceilings
  4. Loose anchor straps
  5. Cabinet and closet doors becoming loose or not closing. Cabinets will likely look out of square.
  6. Floors having noticeable heave or bowing.
  7. Bulged skirting or cracks in the skirting
  8. Your house can look tilted when observed from outside.
  9. Issues with awnings and other attachments to your  home

If you suspect your home is unlevel, the simplest way to check is to head to the crawl space and compare the height from home to ground on each pier with a water level. (3)

Due to several uncontrollable factors, such as soil moisture change and root growth, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding, it is advisable to check your underbelly for any structural or utility problems once a year. Also do a check of your home’s level if a big calamity just occured, or a nearby water line just got damaged. (3)

Your home being unlevel has structural implications that could cause your home to collapse, therefore once you suspect anything, it doesn’t hurt to crawl under and check!

Image from Leveling Prefabricated Homes l Clayton Studio (claytonhomes.com)

References:

  1. Y, K. (2019, April 22). Leveling prefabricated homes during on-site construction. Leveling Prefabricated Homes l Clayton Studio. Retrieved July 2022, from https://www.claytonhomes.com/studio/how-are-mobile-homes-leveled/
  2. McGarry, R., & Madsen, G. (2020, April 2). How often should you relevel a mobile home? Retrieved July 2022, from https://www.howtolookatahouse.com/Blog/Entries/2020/4/how-often-should-you-relevel-a-mobile-home.html
  3. Stevens, S. (2021, May 14). How can you tell if a manufactured home has become unlevel? Manufactured Home Parts And Accessories. Retrieved July 2022, from https://manufacturedhomepartsandaccessories.com/manufactured-home-has-become-unlevel/