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Building/Rehabbing Used Trailer/Mobile Homes

 
Posts: 44
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I'm curious as to what the estimated cost would be for rehabbing or building from scratch a small trailer assuming the undercarriage is in good condition.

The plan would be either repair the shell, or build a shell insulating it and the floor.
 
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Location: Northwest Missouri
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I'm a big fan of repurposing and rehabbing but would have reservations doing so with a trailer or mobile home. In general if you get one on the cheap, look for water damage. Campers sit outside and are prone to leaking. They're also made of cheap light materials inside which are prone to being damaged by water. Mobile homes are usually full of particle board which is absolute crap over time (I lived in one where somebody had to layer plywood over the particle board sub floor in some rooms to get rehab it, and you could tell the floors what hadn't been done because of the wavy and soft spots.) One plumbing leak mishap can doom a particle board floor.

Also on that trailer the insulation underneath had shed off over time, making the crawl space underneath a big mess that could not be easily redone. There was a shell built around that same trailer and somehow it was still incredibly drafty and awkward.  

So what I'm saying is that rehabbing can have the hidden cost and time for stripping down to a frame. Then even if you get a good deal, they're full of unique plumbing and HVAC systems that are hard to find parts for. I would be more inclined to buy a metal building or repurpose a shipping container.
 
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Teresa,

I have to agree with Matt.  Trailers are not really conducive to fixing up.  Sadly, they are sort of the disposable version of housing.

If you do attempt this Project, I expect that it will probably be a long, arduous process, but if your heart is set on it, then do it, but don’t be surprised if the cost of fixing is more than the price of buying new.

Best of luck,

Eric
 
teresa quintero
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The Subject line may be misleading. Depending on the state of the trailer I'm thinking of just the basic, not rehabbing it to the extent it was as if new. It would be new floor and shell, both insulated, nothing more.  Would that still be a costly undertaking?
 
master steward
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We bought an 1985 Silver Streak that was in fairly good condition.  We tore out the carpet and replace any damage places on the floor.  We painted it with gray porch paint the got a cheap carpet remnant to loose lay over the floor.

There might have been some plumbing repair.  The biggest expense was a new furnace and hot water heater.  We were able to get the A/C and refrigerator running.

We might have done all this for $1000.

The Silver Streak was a top of the line trailer so that is why we got out so cheap.  That was in 2005 and it is still being used.  The cabinet have since been painted black for a retro look.

It has a permanent home and not out on the road.
 
pollinator
Posts: 192
Location: Missoula, MT
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Stripped one down to the studs and the roof cap and completely rebuilt it with hella insulation and air sealing. Horrible to work on, but totally sweet now that it's all done. Whether or not it's a good idea totally depends on the quality of the trailer.
 
pollinator
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RV trailers come in different flavors. One flag for the "disposable" kind is corrugated aluminum shell. Nothing wrong with the aluminum, but there are maybe 150 feet of seams at the edges of the aluminum panels which must not leak - except of course they do. They are built light because that makes them easier to tow and most people just use them to park near a lake in summer to get close to the fishing. And most people don't use them for more than a few years.

There is a type which has a "one piece" fiberglass shell and these are much better at not leaking. However, the windows and roof vent leak about as much as any other trailer and after a while that takes out the trim, furniture and floor below the leak. These fiberglass trailers are usually small ones, 14-18 feet, good for two people being cozy. I own one and have made repairs and actually pretty like it even though I actually had to make structural fiberglass repairs in both fender wells. But. There is no free lunch here. When you invest in something there will always be maintenance, repair, depreciation, etc which has to be provided for if you want to create and maintain decent value.

Look at your resources, your strong points, skills, personal traits, etc and scope out where you can deploy your personal assets to the best advantage. I have "done houses" for 50+ years, repaired/rebuilt cars for about the same and "done boats" for 25 years. I have a $3000+ (not that much, really) worth of good tools and the skill and experience to use them well. And I have the time, now, to do the work, although admittedly less energy than 20 years ago. Rebuilding a trailer might (but not necessarily) make sense for me. Other folks have different advantages: "People skills", maybe a bag of money to spend, maybe they know real estate and the people in that industry, maybe they know farming and fabrication like Travis here on Permies, maybe anything they touch with a knife makes the whole room salivate. IOW, assess your resources honestly and then look for deals, opportuninties in your area of strength where you can apply your personal leverage. Where you can, with some confidence, expect to contribute, get ahead.  If you find a "main chance" that fits _you_ it's way, way better than punting with wish you don't have a clue about.

FWIW, when buying _anything_ it has been said and it is my experience that you want to buy the very best you can afford at that time. Unless you're really knowledgeable and know that you will get what payback you need before the thing (car, furnace, trailer, fridge, house) dies the death. IOW, you _could_ plan to run it into the ground and walk away. That's a legitimate tactic, but it requires some real knowledge and luck. If you want to keep, develop, improve, etc then buy the very best you can afford because that will be MUCH cheaper than rebuilding and repair in the future. Cheaper in every way, money, time, physical pain, angst, relationship stress.

Regards,
Rufus
 
pollinator
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My only experience is with a regular house, but we looked into moving here 5 years ago and calculated it out that the cost would be $16,000.

We ended up moving in for $1700, and that included fully insulating it, putting in all new electrical, and basically taking it back to the studs on both the interior, and exterior. A lot of work needs to be done to make it really nice inside, but we are living here for a lot less than I thought, so I do think it is possible to do so with a mobile home. (This included being here over one of the worst winters in Maine ever. On Thanksgiving we were the coldest spot in the WORLD!)

I know a guy that successfuly flips RV's as well, so I think you could even do this for a profit business.
 
pollinator
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Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
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I have been looking at this website which sells what I believe are reasonably priced used and seized RVs (and cars, heavy equipment, boats). They ship free if you spend $2000 and "... offer 30 days Money Back Guaranteed (no matter the reason you are not satisfied, no questions asked)."Marcy Auto Sales. THEY ARE SCAMMERS!! Marcy Auto Sales
 
Rufus Laggren
pollinator
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Denise

Buying sight unseen "successfully" depends on:

1) You MUST be able lose _all_ the money you spend w/out hurting. More than you spend, really, because of the cost of finding out and then getting rid of it and then starting over again, paying for lost time and grief.

2) Either very great luck or some responsible reason(s) to believe the other party is all they claim to be.

3) You MUST have some good idea what you want to buy. IOW, you've got to know what you're doing. Really. What you want/need. How much it "should" cost. What is likely wrong with it. How to get it fixed satisfactory to you. Lots of stuff.

4) _Good_ reasons(s) to believe that both you and the other party understand each other fully, including how legal responsibility will be applied and this is way not as straight forward as it may seem. Like, maybe, having worked together on this type of transaction for 10+ years would be a good reason. Think about how often somebody misunderstands something you have just spent 10 minutes carefully explaining to them, face to face. I dunno about you, but that happens to me a lot and, lest you think I don't know how to communicate, I see it happening to people around me at least two or three times a week. Sometimes that's an easy fix, often not.

Buying sight unseen is simply gambling, regardless of how smart and experienced one might be. Pictures are nice to eliminate uglies, but they don't make it any different - it's still sight unseen: A risky gamble.

I guess you get where I'm coming from. IM(strong)O, used vehicle purchases for important personal use have to be conducted in person. Even then, sometimes we get, ah, disappointed. But our chances are much better.


Regards,
Rufus
 
denise ra
pollinator
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All good cautions Rufus. Thanks
 
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Travel trailers and older mobile homes are trash from the ground up.   I know -- I live in one.  They are built of the cheapest, junkiest materials, most of which would never be used for anything else.

This one is built of thin sheet metal and boards made of chipped wood (OSB), boards made of compressed sawdust, and ceilings made of pressed paper fiber, all held together with staples. Every seam leaks.  Every part was the very cheapest they could find, and so was very method.  These things were made for dumb suckers.

Start watching some of the older, more basic (and cheaper) Tiny Home videos and websites.  Many can be made for around $20,000.  Forget the ones that are made for resale $40,000 to $100,000 -- stick with the basic ones.

 
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