Can You Remodel Manufactured Homes?

Yes you can remodel manufactured (or mobile) homes. For this there are many things to be aware of like when it was built, the weight load it can carry structurally, your financial budget and total added value to the home. Especially if the home was made before 1976 in the U.S, this likely will not be built to HUD Code standards and due for renovation.

This is when a manufactured home company’s policies on warranties and repair really stand out. Do they have a service to come over and help you out? Is it accessible to your location? How fast can they come fix it and how much will it cost?

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Know What You Can Remodel

Manufactured homes are only built to withstand a certain load, so be mindful if your new additions are adding weight beyond what the original framework can carry.

If your manufactured home has no underbelly and insulation, you can see how far apart your joists are and see how thick or wide of what’s carrying your home. You can also check which parts of the home are directly supported to the ground and which ones are hanging and could sag with too much added load. (1)

Another thing to look for is what material the floor is made of. Is it made of oriented strand board (OSB)? Or is it a building board with more moisture resistance and structural support that allows you to put those tiles you wanted in.

The basic model of a single wide (or singular unit) sits on a steel chassis like the image below. A double wide would combine two single wides having two of the chassis. The chassis is what allows it to be “mobile” should you want to hook it up to a truck and transport your home. The triangular steel ends are called “outriggers.” Preferably, those outriggers are placed at the edge of your home, to better hold the weight of your roof and exterior walls. (2)

This chassis is what distinguishes a site built home from a mobile/manufactured home.

Beyond this, the rest of the home’s structure is the same as any home built conventionally with wall studs, floor joists, roof trusses, waterproofing and insulation.

Images from A Look At How Manufactured Homes Are Constructed | Mobile Home Living

Why Remodel?

Some people may have gotten an old mobile home (especially those made before 1976) and need to upgrade their electrical system to meet the demands of today. Others may be repurposing an old room like the kids’ bedroom into an office, or the current guest room into a baby room. Another reason could be that the users are preparing for retirement and want to convert the doorways larger or have a PWD friendly bathroom.

Whatever the reason is for a renovation, make sure it’s comprehensive in fixing what you can with what you knocked down. If you’re opening up your walls to update the electrical wiring, you could check your insulation and plumbing pipes for any leaks while it’s open. In applying a new home skirting, you might as well check the structural frame in the underbelly of your home and waterproofing if they’re all intact. (3)

Design for Protection

To keep the manufactured home efficient and at a low cost, they’re predominantly made of wood. This makes them susceptible to a lot of weather and waterproofing damage that can be protected with the following upgrades: (3)

  • Sloping & Waterproofed Roof: A pitched roof has better water drainage to prevent water pooling into eventual leakage. If you really want to have the flat roof deck top, slope it by at least 1-2% or more and wrap the perimeter with a low parapet wall. Whichever roof shape you end up with, waterproof it with an EPDM membrane, which will also help reflect warm sun rays.
  • Stormproof Openings: Shop for those weatherproof doors and windows and compare their frames, seals and joinery. Also compare for a better water tight skirting that will not only prevent moisture damage but keep pests and rodents from coming in.
  • Check the Drainage, Gutters and Paint: Keeping these well maintained can give your home greater longevity whether mobile, manufactured or site built.

Design for Added Value

There are conflicting opinions on whether manufactured homes depreciate or appreciate in value. What is certain however is the presence of a growing housing shortage worldwide and that manufactured homes not only present a cheaper alternative but are highly durable.

With the new HUD Code standards, manufactured homes are being viewed as a site built home more and more, with an expected life span of 50 years. So why not make your manufactured home a leading competitor in the market and consider adding some functional accessories: (3)

  • Carport/Garage
  • Porch/Balcony
  • Tools / Garden Shed
  • Guest Room / Home Office

You can even build your home with premium features like a jacuzzi and fireplace, or boast the energy efficiency and utility savings it has by having solar panels or sun louvers installed.

Be certain however to get a good resale value that you maintain and repair everything well. Upgrade your insulation if you need to and weatherproof your home.

Tips and Takeaways

A renovation and remodel is never an easy task. Make sure to maximize the time and heavy work put in by analyzing what else you can repair while you’re in there. It doesn’t have to be a whole home makeover, you could do it in sections at a time.

When remodeling your home, try to keep the layout of electrical and plumbing placements as is. Often the biggest expense is rerouting and altering your pipes to the new configuration. Also always check your local regulations as to when you need a permit for the kind of renovation work you’ll be doing. (4)