Can Manufactured Homes be Moved? (4 factors to consider)

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Yes, a manufactured home is definitely movable! In its pre-1976 avatar, the Manufactured Home was known as “Mobile Home”.  True to its name, these dwelling units were meant to be transported from the factory to a site and further, as required.

Manufactured homes are essentially built on metal chassis (frames) with wheels. They are rigged on to trucks for transportation based on the size and weight of the structure. On reaching the destination, the house along with the chassis usually gets shifted to a pier & beam foundation.

Image 1: Illustration showing parts of a manufactured home (Source: https://tinyurl.com/manuhomeparts)

Shifting a Mobile Home sounds easy and straightforward in theory. But, there are a few factors that a home owner has to consider to make an informed decision. Let’s take a brief look at what they are.

Structural Health

One of the first things to analyze while figuring out if a house is worth the move is the age and health of the structure. There are quite many instances where houses have not been able to survive the trip of even a few miles.

Foundation Issues

This includes improperly built piers, unequal settling of ground, damaged chassis, et cetera. These can cause a variety of problems in the structure of the house like cracked wall frames and roofs. There could even be concealed damage to cabinetry and floors.

These problems many not be apparent when the house is seated. But once the movement kicks in, faults on the inside start manifesting in the form of broken walls and dislodged door & window frames on the outside.

Image 2: Damage suffered by a Manufactured Home during transportation (Source: https://www.news9.com/story/5e346d03527dcf49dad6d727/pottawatomie-county-man-causes-thousands-of-dollars-in-road-damage-after-moving-mobile-home-himself)

A detailed walk around of the house must be conducted to check its structural integrity and movability. It is advisable to hire an experienced professional to assess the health of the foundation.

Leakages and Dampness

Walls and structural members can be damaged from the inside due to dampness. These can be caused due to the leaking building envelope or internally through faulty plumbing. What this does is that, it causes the house to rot and crumble from within.

This again results in problems similar to what we saw in the previous section. These can be avoided by periodic checks and maintenance during the life-cycle of the house. 

Image 3: Damage to studs and flooring due to damp (Source: https://in.pinterest.com/treciatyson/mobile-homes/)

So now that we have made sure that our manufactured house is strong and can endure the move, what comes next?

The Cost of Moving a Manufactured House

It cannot be stressed enough that moving a Manufactured House is not a DIY job. A majority of the states even do not permit the shifting of houses without the help of licensed professionals.

Hiring movers can cost you anything from $1000 to more than $15,000. The estimate for the move depends on factors like the size of the house, distance to traverse and condition of the house.

Professional movers can help a home owner with all aspects of the process including insurance, permits and packing. Their job also entails unplugging fixtures & utility lines and re-fixing them at the destination.

The seemingly high costs involved are justified as the professionals are tested and certified to do the job. They use appropriate vehicles and devices to safely execute the job without damage to the house or public property.

Image 4: Manufactured home rigged to a truck (Source: https://mobilehomemovers.com/safely-transporting-a-double-wide/)

 Single – wideDouble – wideTriple – wide
Transport only move (60mi)700$ – 1,000$2,000$ – 2,500$2,600$ – 3,500$
Full service move (60mi)3,000$ – 5,000$4,000$ – 10,000$10,000$ – 14,000$

Table 1: Generic cost of transportation up to 60 miles (Source: https://www.moving.com/tips/moving-mobile-home-expect-pay/)

To calculate cost of vehicles separately:

Tow: 4 to 5.5$ per mile

Pilot cars: 1.5 to 1.65$ per mile

Now that we know that the move is physically and economically feasible, what is the next step?

Regulations and Permits

Legal Requirements of the Destination Town

Authorities of the town being moved into may restrict houses brought-in based on local building codes. A house owner has to ensure that their destination lot is zoned to accept Manufactured Houses. They also have to adhere to Housing and Urban Development Codes (HUD) enacted in 1976.

Houses older than fifteen years may have to undergo detailed testing and certification to prove structural and systemic health.

Moving Permit

The application for a moving permit may vary from state to state and between counties. But the documents commonly required to process it are:

  • An affidavit from the county that all taxes have been paid.
  • Certificate of title.

Image 5: Photograph showing escort vehicles for the trip (Source: https://www.thespruce.com/best-mobile-home-movers-5081897)

Finding the right Movers

Zeroing in on a competent and credible moving company is half the battle won! The key here is research. Visit the offices of different movers, talk to the references they provide. Make sure that they have the ability and know-how to move your particular type of house.

Online reviews and feedback forums are good sources of information to size up a team. Most companies will be happy to provide a free site visit and estimate. Collecting at least three quotes will help you understand the market rates for the service you require. Only approach companies that are licensed and insured.

Image 6: Platypus, a remote controlled vehicle which maneuvers the mobile home out of tight spots (Source: https://tinyurl.com/platypusmobile)

Bonus: The Moving Process

Ideally, the moving company is capable of handling all the steps in the process listed below. But their involvement will be based on the type of contract and conditions that both parties have agreed upon.

  • Unplug utility connections: this includes electricity, water and gas.
  • Disconnect cables of all devices like land phones, televisions, fridges and ovens.
  • Take down and/or fasten fragile interior artefacts like picture frames, floor lamps, vases and the like.
  • Remove all external ornamental features and fixtures like lights, nameplates and awnings which are prone to dislocate during the move.
  • Some parts of the house like large rooms will have to be braced for extra support.
  • ‘Tear down’ is the part where the house is dismantled to be transported in parts. For eg. when a double wide is taken apart to be moved in half. Removal of siding, skirting and other such features are inevitable during this stage.
  • The house is finally tugged by purpose built trucks to it’s destination which should have already been cleared and levelled.
  • Once at the new site, the different parts of the house are pieced together in precise alignment.
  • One of the most important steps in winding down the moving process is reconnection of utilities. After those are in place, other interior and exterior assemblies are done to restore the Manufactured House to its former glory.

Conclusion

Moving a Manufactured Home can be carried out easily with the right amount of planning and meticulous execution. To ensure a successful move, an owner must:

  • analyze the ‘health’ of the house
  • calculate financial feasibility
  • check zoning and regulations, collect all necessary permits and insurances
  • find a competent moving company.

Bibliography

Homeowner’s Fact Sheet. (2017, May 14). Retrieved from HUD.gov: https://web.archive.org/web/20170514144136/https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=%2Fprogram_offices%2Fhousing%2Frmra%2Fmhs%2Ffactsheet

Moving A Mobile Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.moveeast.com: https://www.moveeast.com/moving-guide/shipping-vehicles/moving-a-mobile-home/

Mueller, L. (2019, November 22). 4 Laws on Moving a Mobile Home You Need to Know. Retrieved from Moving: https://www.moving.com/tips/4-laws-on-moving-a-mobile-home-you-need-to-know/

MYMOVE. (2021, February 21). How Much Does It Cost to Move a Mobile Home? Retrieved from https://www.mymove.com/: https://www.mymove.com/moving/guides/move-mobile-home-cost/

White, M. (2022, March 9). The Cost of Moving a Mobile Home – What You Can Expect to Pay. Retrieved from Moving: https://www.moving.com/tips/moving-mobile-home-expect-pay/