How To Relocate A Modular Home

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Modular homes are permanent constructions and as so it isn’t possible to relocate them once they have been assembled on their foundations. However, given that the modules conforming the overall house are built off-site and transported to the plot to be assembled, it is common to look at this construction type as a moveable home. This association often leads to compare modular homes with mobile homes.

Though, this comparison couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mobile, or what is now known as manufactured homes, are conceived as a one single piece house the size of a module that is easily transportable, not only from the factory to the set up location but several times, from one location to another.

While manufactured homes are conceived as moveable structures, the relocating process is complex and should be carefully planned to ensure no severe damages occur during the transportation.

The procedure to relocate a manufactured home can be defined in 5 steps:

  1. Consider the feasibility of the move
  2. Prepare the house to resist the transportation
  3. Hire professional mobile home movers and acquire the necessary permits
  4. Study the route
  5. Shipping and delivery preparation

This procedure should be carefully followed in order to achieve a smooth relocation. In most cases the mobile home movers will take care of each one of the previously mentioned steps and would properly assess the owner into every detail. However, this is paid as a full service and some owners opt for a cost reduction by handling some work by themselves.

Modular homes are permanent constructions. Understanding the confusion between modular and manufactured

Modular homes are prefabricated constructions built almost entirely off-site in a factory-like environment, following a process that is more similar to an assembly line than to a traditional construction process. However, despite the singularity of its building process, modular homes are treated just like any traditional site built house: as a permanent construction.

This modern modular construction technique consists on prefabricating every module in a manufacturing plant and shipping them to the building site to be assembled on permanent foundations. After the module assembly, still some finishing works are required to obtain what we know as a completely finished modular home.

There is a common misunderstanding regarding prefabricated constructions which leads to a general mix up conceiving them all in quite a similar way, often as mobile homes. This confusion is quite extended, despite all what modular and mobile homes share is the fact that both of them are build off site. Contrary to modular homes, mobile homes as the name discloses, are mobile structure and can therefore be relocated several times.

On the other hand, it is accepted to use the terms mobile home to refer to manufactured homes, since they are booth conceived as transportable constructions and look pretty much in the same way. However, there is a big difference between these two: those mobile homes that have been built under the regulations of the HUD codes are considered manufactured homes.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the establishment of building regulations, the HUD codes, on moveable structures in 1976. Every transportable home built after that date is referred to as a manufactured home to mark a distinction between the two [1].

Manufactured home relocating procedure

Despite being conceived as moveable houses; manufactured homes are often purchased without moving intentions and installed in one location for a long period of time. Being treated as non-moveable structures, these homes are usually slightly modified with exterior attachments and lack the required maintenance that would require to be ready for shipment.

Deciding to move a manufactured home that has been “parked” in the same location for a long period of time is possible, though it is a decision that shouldn’t be rushed. Instead, it should be carefully planned to ensure a successful procedure.

Consider the feasibility of the move

The first step when planning the relocation of a manufactured home is to determine if it is possible to move that particular unit. As a general rule, in order to move a manufactured home, it should have been built according to the HUD codes and have the required Data Plate affixed on it.

The Data Plate contains all the important information regarding the construction of that particular house, revealing the maximum loads and wind zone details [2]. Every location, depending on its climate and common weather events, will stablish the minimal requirements any manufactured home should follow. Before moving a manufactured house, we should double check that the details offered by our manufactured home match with those required in the new destination [3].

Those homes built before 1976 will encounter more obstacles when requesting the permits to move. However, if the purpose for moving is for the same owner to continue occupying the house in a new location [4], the relocation permits might still be issued as long as a good structural quality could be certified.

Prepare the house to resist the transportation

Despite having been built up to the HUD codes, the manufactured home that has been installed in the same location for a long period of time can deteriorate and show structural damages as time goes by. These damages are usually cause by water leaks, termites or simply lack of maintenance.

During transportation the manufactured home is exposed to severe tremors and movements, similar to those experienced during earthquakes or strong winds. A manufactured home with a damaged structure may not be capable of withstanding this forces. Therefore, checking the overall status of the house before deciding to move is a must. In case the house shows any damages in the structure it should undergo some reparations to restore its original condition.

Hire professional mobile home movers and acquire the necessary permits

Given the huge dimensions and heavy weight of a manufactured home, hiring professional mobile home movers to handle the transportation will be necessary [3]. Since manufactured homes are conceived as moveable structures, they are built on a permanently fixed steel chassis designed to stabilize the house. The purpose of this chassis is to offer a stable structure to place the house on wheels when being transported and on foundations when being still.

The chassis eases the lifting and moving of the house and allows professional movers to place the manufactured home, all in one piece on a large flatbed so it can be towed. Before transportation starts, you need to acquires some permits, most moving companies will properly advise you about the required permits you need to acquire or they will even handle them themselves [5]. Therefore, when looking for a company to hire, choose one that is properly licensed and insured so they can take care of all the necessary steps.

Study the route

The transportation of a manufactured home is delicate, the roads aren’t always prepared for trucks to carry such large object and damages can easily occur to the house while being towed away. The route should be carefully planned avoiding roads with narrow roadways, tight turns or steep mountain passes [6].

Any physical obstacle could become a blockage or cause severe damages to the house, some of the most common damages occur when the house’s roof gets scratched with an overpass that is too low; when the sides of the home scrape with the guard rail due to a narrow route; or when a power line that isn’t high enough gets on the way of the house [7].

Though not only physical obstacles need to be considered, elements such as strong winds can disrupt the whole shipment by diverting the whole manufactured home out of the road. Which could not only cause prolonged delays but cause severe harm on the house itself [7].

Shipping and delivery preparation

Once the relocation has been properly planned, the moving professional will prepare the house for its shipment. The shipment preparation involves disconnecting all the utilities by turning electricity, water and gas off; protecting and sealing the pipes; removing all exterior attachments such as porches, awnings or decorative objects; and protecting all windows and doors.

The site where the manufactured home is moving to should be properly prepared before the manufactured home reaches its destination. To install the house, the plot should be levelled, the trees blocking the way removed, and all the necessary utilities arranged [8]. Once the house is installed on the new location, some finishing works will still be required. It is recommended to start works such as landscaping after the house installation since the manoeuvring of the truck will damage most of the surroundings.

How much does it cost to relocate a manufactured home?

The cost of relocating a manufactured home will depend on a number of factors such as the distance travelled, the permits required by each location or the services offered by the moving company. Usually moving companies offer either a full service where they take care of every detail of the relocation or a transportation only service where the manufactured home owner should handle every other necessary detail required.

  • Transportation only: In this case, only transportation is included and its cost will depend on the distance travelled. For a short distance transportation, the cost will cost between $1,000 and $5,000. Though long distances could cost up to $15,000 [6].
  • Full service relocation: This service includes preparing the house for transportation, preparing the destination site and transportation. For short distances of about 60 miles it could be expected to cost from $3,000 to $20,000 upwards [6] depending on the size of the house.

While choosing transportation only might seem like a very attractive choice to reduce the overall moving costs, it should be carefully thought. Disconnecting and connecting the utilities requires plumbing knowledge or hiring a professional plumber, if the owner doesn’t have the skills for it, that cost should be considered in the overall budget.

Regardless of which type of service we choose, being either only transportation or the full package, the moving company should be properly insured. In both cases it is the moving company who handles the necessary permits and the travel insurance required for the relocation.

References

  1. Brown, S. Mobile? Modular? Manufactured? What’s the difference and how to choose the right one? New Home Source https://www.newhomesource.com/learn/difference-between-manufactured-vs-modular-vs-mobile-home/  
  2. Missing HUD Labels (Tags) Manufactured Housing & Standards U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/rmra/mhs/mhslabels
  3. Mueller, L. (2019, January 22) 4 Laws on Moving a Mobile Home You Need to Know Movinghttps://www.moving.com/tips/4-laws-on-moving-a-mobile-home-you-need-to-know/
  4. (2010) Mobile home or park model trailer movement special permit and decal – Responsibility for taxes – License plates – Rules Washington State Legislature https://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.44.170
  5. Mobile Home Moving Services Heavy Haulers https://www.heavyhaulers.com/services-mobile-home-transport.php
  6. Mobile Home Transport Nexus https://nexusautotransport.com/mobile-home-transport/
  7. Transportation and other damage – HUD files U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmenthttps://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/FIELDFINDINGS.PDF
  8. Myers, C. (2017, July 17) How to Prepare Land for a Mobile home Home Steady https://homesteady.com/13402545/how-to-prepare-land-for-a-mobile-home