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Any love for mobile homes ? (trailer homes)

 
steward
Posts: 2482
Location: FL
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A factor in my decision to buy this place was the fact that there was already a well, septic system and power pole set up.  I could have purchased an undeveloped lot, then added the systems, but I'd be looking at $4k for the well, about the same for the septic system, another couple thousand for the power pole.  Figure $10k I'd have to fork over before I can get a home figured out.   

Next is the time and hassle dealing with the city and county to get permits in place, calling and following up on contractors, dealing with soil testing, environmental impact study-now required in Florida before you can dig a septic tank, and waiting for the work to get done. 

Did I mention the culvert?  Florida is pretty flat.  Every road has a storm ditch on both sides.  To get to property, you have to install a culvert, that's another $1500-$2000 shot to hell.

I put $5k on the table and the place was mine, ready to move in.  The mortgage is $500/month.  Renting an apartment would be $1k down and 500/month, would not be all that fancy, and come with neighbors pounding on the walls and ceiling. 
 
pollinator
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Len wrote:
A friend of mine dropped two older MH down beside each other and cut the wall between. Put a beam where he cut out and floored right through. It is no longer movable but really nice inside. I think they started out with just the one for years and when they found the other added it. They are slightly staggered which looks less boxy and I think they put a single roof over the whole thing. He deals in used building supplies and most things he builds come from the bits he hasn't sold or connections he has made over the years.

He also builds tiny homes. He has an old RV frame and makes them to fit... so 8x18 or 20 I would guess. He uses standard appliances (tub, fridge, stove etc.) and they are set up for a single person. They are built to look like a house, not a trailer and after he delivers them, he takes his trailer with him so the house is then a permanent house. This is his retirement work, so he builds them as he has time.... when he feels like working... gets 20K each for them so if he sells one a year (he often manages two) he does just fine. (my mother in laws retirement is half that)



Len, any possibility of getting some pictures posted of your friend's tiny houses?  My nephew is thinking about building them for sale, also -- your friend's work might have some ideas for him.

Kathleen
 
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Location: rainier OR
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spystyle wrote:
I like the "shell" concept.

A mobile home, a bus, a garage, a barn - anything that can be framed, insulated, and dry-walled. For those of us that are not professional home builders, a shell can make it easier

As for the pole barn over the vehicles - I've seen a similar concept before. A (mostly glass) desert home with a gas station style canopy over it. Keeps it in the shade

Hey I found it :

http://www.newhouseofart.com/contemporary-minimalist-desert-house-design/




I donno if my neighbors would like me living in a house like that one I spend a lot of home time undressed
 
Posts: 79
Location: Maine, USA
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Ken Peavey : Very informative post, thanks

Brice Moss : Hilarious post

Kathleen Sanderson : If you have no luck finding plans, I Googled some for sale :

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/plans/

I am 6 foot 1 inch tall with a tall daughter, I don't think we'd dwell well in a tiny house LOL

But maybe!

On that topic, here are the room sizes we are used to :
Bedrooms, 12 foot wide by 12 foot length
Bathroom, 6 foot wide by 9.5 foot length
Kitchen, 12 foot wide by 15 foot length 

Hopefully the dwelling we end up in will be kinda similar
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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I've looked at the Tumbleweed plans several times -- they have some very nice little houses.  But.  Their plans are designed for urban dwellers, not for rural people who raise most of their food and need space to store not only the food but the equipment (canning equipment, milking equipment, butchering and meat processing equipment, food dryers, and so on).  And they forget to have access to the vegetable garden directly from the kitchen.  And so on.  Oh, and his bathroom designs are too small for us -- my handicapped daughter needs help bathing and sometimes with personal hygiene, so we need a larger bathroom space (at least normal 5' X 8').  We can shrink bedrooms to just space for a bed with drawers underneath and a couple of feet of closet rod to hang a few things up (and some shelves on the wall above the bed.  And we can shrink the 'living room' to a chair or two, or even just use the beds, perhaps in nooks, as sitting space.  But we can't shrink the bathroom, and we need a lot more pantry space than even most large modern houses provide.  Also need a root cellar, but that doesn't have to be in the house.

Ken, very good points about getting a place already set up.  Especially if you are getting a late start and winter is closing in.

Kathleen
 
Craig Conway
Posts: 79
Location: Maine, USA
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Kathleen, it sound like you and I both should avoid living in TinyHomes.

Luckily we have the "convert a barn" idea

The "pole barn" idea is great for Maine, there is such a long snow season here - I'd enjoy some 1awn to stand on without 4 feet of snow

I also found a really detailed description of converting a school bus into a mobile home :

http://www.vonslatt.com/bus-main.shtml

-----------

Oh groovy, I also found that "Earthbag" building can be as low as $10 per square foot, and result in a nicely insulated DIY home :

http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/

I like these :

http://www.dreamgreenhomes.com/plans/enviro-dome.htm

http://www.dreamgreenhomes.com/plans/enviro-dome2.htm

http://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/earthbag-peace-dome-2/

from Owen Geiger :

http://earthbagplans.wordpress.com/

So this competes with mobile homes price And he claims they are easy to build.

I'd like to see a design that incorporates the systems of an Earthship - but without the use of tires. I was able to contact David Wright aia, an author of one of my passive solar architecture books :

http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Solar-Architecture-Passive-Primer/dp/0442295863/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1308668101&sr=1-2

... he condemns the use of "toxic tires" in Michael Reynolds "Earthships". I can imagine these Earthbags being a comparable alternative to the tires.

I also really love the circular design of the houses - I bet the wind goes right around those, they are aerodynamic like cars.

It's the opposite of these modern square designs :

http://dornob.com/billboards-umbrellas-junk-dwelling-upcycles-local-scrap/

I think the round designs are more natural Things in nature are round LOL
 
                                              
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I live in an old mobile home, and it is nice not to pay rent, but we don't own the land   and they do fall apart after a while

What about buying a few acres (or one or two) live in the mobile home temporarily while you build a cob house for almost nothing, then dismantle and use the mobile home for other building projects around your property?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1459
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Love the house shown on the link! Soo Cool!  I could be very comfortable there.

Consideration for anything you put on a slab:  In our location if you put a structure on a slab it is a taxable stucture.  If it is on piers or has a gravel floor it is not taxable.

Our Neighbor found this out AFTER he had already built his shop on a slab.  As a result I have one shop on gravel and another on piers.

Can you tell I'm really nit-picky about taxes?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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South Carolina wrote:
Love the house shown on the link! Soo Cool!  I could be very comfortable there.

Consideration for anything you put on a slab:  In our location if you put a structure on a slab it is a taxable stucture.  If it is on piers or has a gravel floor it is not taxable.

Our Neighbor found this out AFTER he had already built his shop on a slab.  As a result I have one shop on gravel and another on piers.

Can you tell I'm really nit-picky about taxes?



I'm really nit-picky about taxes too, since we are on a very small fixed income.  As long as we have few bills, no mortgage, and low property taxes, we can manage just fine.  But high taxes just won't work.  I'm wondering if, in Maine, a house with a dirt floor would keep the taxes low??  I know having it on piers or posts instead of a solid foundation will keep them down.

Kathleen
 
                                  
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People have told me they aren't worth reburbishing but I wish I had bought a cheap one and fixed it up temporarily then you can always pull it out when you are ready to build! When we are ready to build I am thinking of mimicking the floor plan of a double wide half the length and an upstairs loft.  They seem to make good use of the sq. footage. Trying to learn all I can about passive solar  and zero energy before then...
 
Craig Conway
Posts: 79
Location: Maine, USA
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I've bounced in house ideas like so :

1. Earthship (too expensive)
2. Mobile Home (too flimsy, not as cheap as I thought after hook up*)
3. Earth bag home (I'm in too cold of a climate for that, would need a different fill)
4. Log cabin

Now I am digging the idea of building a log cabin I can build it from material found "on site" for the most part. Since it's up to me how it's built I can integrate passive solar and other "green technologies".

I saw 3 wilderness movies that had me completely hooked on the idea of building a log cabin  :

"Snowshoes and Solitude" & "Off the Grid" with Les Stroud

and "Alone in the Wilderness" with Dick Proenneke

The latter even inspires me to escape civilization and go to Alaska

* You can forgo hook up, I suppose, if you build a separate outhouse. So each mobile home has no toilet. Running water could likely come from a  flexible length of hose, so a little movement is OK. I can visualize a mobile home being like camper, those don't need to have an expensive "hook up".

I've seen a show too, where they had a composting 0uthouse and it was really nice. Outhouses don't have to resemble porta-potties LOL

So I still dig mobile homes but I'm more inclined to live in logs now

Have fun!
Craig
 
                                          
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As to wheels under trailer.Every trailer I have ever seen has axels w/ wheels built in. After it is moved it is "set-up"by mover which means they level it with no weight on wheels. Concrete block piers are placed every 8 ft. or so up each side and pinned tightly to Ibeam .solid block under every door. The tongue can be unbolted and slid underneath front for when you are ready to move. YOu can sell them as the mover usually have their own and will bring for a very small charge.the axels,wheels and tires self store underneath the body of trailer. If you are sure it will be built on and never moved you can remove the axels and wheels and scrap them.Augers are drilled down each side deep in ground and metal tiedown straps are secured to main Ibeans and to drilled auger(looks like a HUGE dog tie out". this "setup" is included in the cost of moving(1600-2000) in ky. Then "underpinning" goes around the block piers which is a treated 2x4 runner along ground with 2x4 framing to fill in the open space between ground and bottom of trailer. a board is screwed along underside of trailer and it is all screwed together like a mini barn wall. folks here use painted metal screwed to framework and you can put doors for storage down each side too. It has been done exactly this way for the 25 yrs I have been living in various trailers.
 
Craig Conway
Posts: 79
Location: Maine, USA
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Very informative

I think your climate can accommodate earth bag homes too

Give me an acre and I'm there

Otherwise I'm stuck in Maine - but I just might sneak off to Alaska LOL

6 months for day, 6 months for night ? I might finally have long enough days to get some work done

Cheers!
Craig
 
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Howdy folks,

Some ideas for Spystyle and others:

These ideas could be adapted to use Earthbag Building methods. OR SOME OTHER ideas for each Bioregion.

1)  Spystyle, if you are leaning towards a Log Cabin at this point, check out Mike Oehler's Book, The $50 and Up Underground House. In addition, check out Paul Wheaton's WOFATI ideas for CHEAP earth integrated shelters which are pretty much a log cabin sheltered with MOther Earth...

Somewhere on the Permies.com website, Paul has photos from Mike's book showing various ideas for combining the earth sheltered home and greenhouse.

2)  http://www.green-trust.org/wordpress/?s=geodesic+quonset   

This would be a terrific way to build OVER a mobile home with a larger footprint to allow for dry space to walk, sit and store things. This can be covered with different ways  OR to just build this Geodesic Quonset as your home and cover with earth or other materials, similar to Native American or Norse Longhouse

http://www.green-trust.org/wordpress/?s=geodesic+quonset

Green-trust.org has an ebook plan written by PJ HAFER who developed the Geodesic Quonset and the Geodesic Camper. (I bought this ebook/plan.)  You may need to do a little research on the internet to find more info.

~~~~~~~~~~

Also, explore the book called Native American Architecture, by Nabokov and Easton. MANY INEXPENSIVE ways to build --earthlodge and more. These Native ideas can be adapted to use modern waterproofing materials. They even had ways to store their food in connected "domes".

I found this book NEW on ebay for $12.

http://www.amazon.com/Native-American-Architecture-Peter-Nabokov/dp/0195066650

~~~~~~~~

Best of everything to all.
Max
 
Craig Conway
Posts: 79
Location: Maine, USA
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Rock on Max

Very informative

Thanks for chiming in
 
                        
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  I knew someone who got a very large fabric garage type building and then put an even larger tarp over that so it was double walled, then put a 17 foot travel trailer inside, which left probly a 10x20 freespace outside the trailer but inside the tarp/garage.  They had a chimney rigged up so they could have a fire in this area and that's where they spent  "social" time very comfortably even in very cold weather, and there was room for their kids to play. No view at all though and ventilation was opening the flaps in the front.

This was in the mountains of northern B.C. and they were quite comfortable.  You could even do this with just two tarps, and build the frame. but then of course it wouldn't be as readilly moved. They said they had been using this for 5 years when I knew them..said that as long as the tarps were really tight so the wind couldn't "work" them they would last a long time.

Have you considered a straw bale house or a modified light straw/clay building? If there is a local supply of straw that can be a very fast and simple way to get up a shelter; in fact in the Straw Bale House, they even give an example of how a very basic emergency straw shelter could be put together with pallets for a floor and tarps over straw for a roof. Then when you get your dream house built, you can compost most of your old one 

One thing worth mentioning perhaps is the non necessity of having a big foundation in cold climates..you can run 4x8 sheet insulation flat and slightly below the surface of the ground sloping away from the house and that will prevent the ground under your house from freezing and bouncing around.  Not sure if that would still apply to heavy clay  you can look that up in the specs..this was developed in  Europe (Finland I think) and is recognized as effective in the States  but is rarely ever used, not sure why, foundations are a MAJOR expense of a house.

A two story building which is considered to be a barn on the main floor no matter what is on the second floor will be taxed (in Alberta at least) as a barn and save oodles of money. This is an old style of building which used to be common in parts of Europe. I worked for a guy once who had a  stable ( 10 box stalls, wash rack, saddle  and feed rooms) , then living space (intended but not used for the hired help) on one side of an alley way with  office space on the other side then an arena all in a row.. The owner worked all the angles so likely that was all considered a barn or  farm building for tax purposes as well  but can't be positive.


 
Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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  Generally mobile homes are a horrible investment! Yet I intend to bring a free one to my building site. I would never consider paying much more than this . If you need temporary shelter but eventually want a proper house why not grab an old mobile for next to nothing and plant it in the center of a post-and beam structure. You would need to deal with all grading and drainage issues in advance of the mobiles arrival. The post-and beam structure can be built completely around the mobile leaving just enough room to extract it at some point. In this way you'll have somewhere to live immediately and the horrible inefficiency of a mobile would be somewhat buffered because it would be encased. Mobiles are one of the easiest buildings to demo so you could complete your pole building and live in the mobile for several years if finances won't allow the immediate completion of your home. When you eventually want the mobile gone it will take one man approximately 3 days to rip it apart and haul it out a 3 foot wide door. I'm in the demolition business and have ripped several of these things apart. They melt like butter! The frame would need to be cut up just enough to haul it out the door. You'll have some aluminum and steel to sell and you'll have a small amount of crappy floor coverings, insulation and other waste to get rid of. The wood can be chopped up and burned in your new home. And that's the best use I can think of for a mobile home Many homesteaders have lived in one of these while building and then turned it into a chicken coop, storage shed or other outbuilding.  Your best way to snag a good mobile is to search out news stories concerning mobile parks which are being redeveloped. Invariably the owners are all up in arms because their imagined property values are reduced to a pittance once the unit has to be relocated. A mobile without a secure pad has very little value. Spend some time searching out these stories and don't make the huge mistake of turning a trailer into your primary investment. To do so would be utter folly.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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Dale, your post reminded me of something.  About thirty years ago, my brothers moved their families back up to Alaska (we were raised there, and they'd been working up there for several years already).  They bought ten acres in Tok and took two old travel trailers up the highway.  At the land, one brother added a shed onto his old Airstream; the other brother built a 20' X 32' 'temporary' structure and completely enclosed his travel trailer.  The shed and building were necessary because they had to have some place to put wood stoves so they didn't freeze to death in the winter -- it can get down to seventy degrees below zero F in the Interior of Alaska.  Several years later, we moved up there and lived in the 20' X 32' structure for about three years; we finished off a kitchen area in the building, then tore down the superstructure of the travel trailer and carried it out the door.  We had to make an opening in the wall to get the frame out, then closed that up and built a floor where the travel trailer had been.  The outside of the structure was particle board, with tar paper on the roof; inside the walls had been insulated and covered with plastic.  My daughters and I put sheet rock up on the walls, but couldn't manage the ceiling (cathedral ceiling with a 13' peak).  We heated with a barrel stove, and had propane lights and a propane cook stove until some druggie stole the copper tubing while we were away one time.  (A friend happened by while the thief was there, so we knew who it was.)  For the remainder of the time that we lived there, we used oil lamps and cooked on a wood cook stove.  I like cooking on a wood cook stove, but the oil lamps were a bit of a trial -- hard to read or sew for very long with a flickering light.

Not exactly a mobile home, but close.

Kathleen
 
Dale Hodgins
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    Kathleen. You probably should have used the roof of the trailer as your scaffold while doing the cathedral ceiling. . The beauty of an old mobile is that it has no inherent value so you can walk on it, store stuff on or under it or against it without reducing its value. Do trailer park type stuff. By trailer Park stuff I don't mean heavy drinking followed by can shooting.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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LOL!  While I've been known to shoot on occasion, I don't drink, so we won't be doing that kind of trailer park stuff! 

We didn't start sheet-rocking the inside of that cabin until after the trailer had been removed, but otherwise, your idea of standing on the trailer roof to reach at least half of the ceiling might have worked!

Kathleen
 
                    
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A little late to the thread but this is an interesting use of a mobile home -

http://builtfromtrash.com/
 
Craig Conway
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Super cool

 
                        
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Sorta surprised nobody has mentioned a straw bale house.  They will go up really fast though finishing them can be time consuming.
 
Craig Conway
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I worry about the straw bales becoming moldy, rodent infested, or catching fire.

It seems difficult to seal the bales 100% always.

However I don't claim to be smart
 
                        
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may I suggest you get The Straw Bale House out of your local library and check them out? It's not that I think you should build one, just that your reasons for not considering them should be valid if you are to make the best decision for your situation.

To take one example..in extensive studies, a straw bale house with a plaster coat is far far less susceptible to fire than the conventional house and an order of magnitude safer than a mobile home in that regard.

One video I saw on You Tube showed the builder carefully and completely wrapping the house in plastic sheeting..that sort of thing is likely what gives straw bale houses a bad name as mildew will be almost inevitable. None of the buildings built in the early 1900's and still in use  had plastic anywhere in the construction. The house has to be able to breathe. The internet (and the world) is full of "experts" and some of them don't have a clue.

Anyway, it's worth looking into. Just so you know and aren't just being scared off by preconceived ideas which really aren't a concern any more than they are for most houses. And straw bale houses, like cob, are more forgiving of the inexpert builder than most other sorts.
 
                                      
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The garage shell with an RV in it is totally viable. I have been living in a travel trailer inside an old barn-like un-insulated garage here in Massachusetts for almost a year. Not being out in the direct elements in cold climates like where i am at makes a huge difference. I skirted the bottom with 2" foam insulation board so my tanks don't freeze. I get my water from a hose bib connection inside the unheated garage, I tapped off the connection with pex piping, wrapped it in heat tape, and put pipe insulation over that. I had no issues at all thru this past winter. I was spending about $100/month on heating the trailer with it's factory propane heater. The place heats up in minutes, and cools in minutes in the summer with the AC on. Building or buying a garage shell kit and putting a trailer inside is a great option. As long as you have your water and sewer issues worked out. I happen to have access to both city water and sewer as there is a bathroom in this old garage. But, overall it is very doable. I would not put this trailer directly outside in the winter here up north if i could help it. Just thought I would chime in with my personal experiences in the matter.
 
                                      
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forgot one important point about living in the trailer inside another structure. Make sure you are properly venting your heat outside the trailer and the garage structure if it is the trailer propane furnace you are using.

Steve
 
                            
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Location: Abilene, KS
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I'm late to the party but found the topic interesting. 

Friends close to retirement are currently living in a looong single wide that they bought for less than $10K, put it on 14 acres and have been living in it for 6 years while they build a really nice home.  Because of county restrictions, they cannot move into the new home until it's completely finished.  It's a pay as you go project, so will take time.  They are brick masons, have remodeled several homes, knowledgeable about building.

Their plan when they retire is to sell the nice home, buy a couple of big lots in a dinky town around here, build a nice building to house equipment and camper - and put another mobile home on it.  Low taxes, neighbors to watch the place if they go traveling a bit, space to store stuff they want to keep, an area for a nice garden and a few hens. 
They added on to the existing mobile home to have a wood burning furnace and will do the same on the next one.  Their cheap existing home is nice, it works for them and we may do the same. 
BTW, we're in Kansas, lots of wind, cold winters, etc.  Their highest heating bill was $79 using the wood furnace.  They've had a few repairs to do, but nothing major.

 
Dale Hodgins
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To quote Jeff Foxworthy ----- "You know you're a redneck if your dream in life is to one day move into a DOUBLE WIDE" .
 
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Buy the mobile home. If nothing else, you've got all your utilities in one place.

If you are in a cold climate, spend your money on insulated skirting instead of concrete piles. Keeping the crawl space warm means no frost heave, and the floors inside are a lot nicer on bare feet.

Block it up high enough so you can work on it underneath without belly crawling. 3 feet is nice.

This also allows you to extend the roof pitch to build ad-ons.

Lot of merit in living in the mobile home while building your real house. When you move into the real house, don't discard the mobile home:

1. Turn it into a chicken coup.

2. Clean it up, and when your kids come back to live at home, send them out to the mobile.

3. Pull the partitions out and use it as a shop -- but leave one room at the end to to use as a paint booth.

 
gardener
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Been many trailers and doublewides in the family.

Brand new they get you in the pocketbook, the older style ones. They came out in the late 70s to early 80's with ones that crossed over into 'manufactured homes' which could be mortgaged with an FHA loan.

A mobile home can be a good place to live if you get used, in good shape, and under 40-50 years old. After that they are truly pretty much past their life. (we are in a doublewide 'manufactured home' about 35 years old and it is showing the age. It has had a few repairs and upgrades but it's reaching where it's going to get expensive in the future. Looking at selling it to be hauled off and probably build a bale home instead. When we bought the place the seller had to buy a plate and tags for the building as it was still considered a trailer. If we sell it, we will have to do the same. Under the skirting it has the lights still in place, but no axles.

In the mid 70's onwards, especially for double and triple wides, they are moved on 'clip on' axles. And the mover takes them with. If you wanted to keep them it was hundreds of dollars more.

If you are renting in a mobile home park, those are usually singlewides and they mandate that the axles stay on, so the place is put on piers high enough to keep the axles off the ground, and are skirted in.

I agree that a cheap used trailer can be great for short term living (1-3 years) while you build what you need and want on your land, then recycle it into something else. I have lovely plans for turning a single wide into the base frame for a lovely greenhouse that is also run out along one side of the trailer. So many uses for one after the fact...
 
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This thread is pretty long and I have not had the time to read everything but here goes. my comments about mobile homes.

If you plan on having home owners insurance be prepared for sticker shock. A mobile home costs more to insure than a much larger regular house. The reason is that many hazards which would only damage a house are total losses for mobile homes. They burn fast so that when one catches fire the fire department only comes to protect adjacent homes, because they can't get there to prevent a total loss. But you are not off the hook completely if you plan on paying cash for the mobile home and "going naked" with respect to insurance. Most people do not thinkabout what you really get in homeowner's insurance. There are 3 major components, Fire, Theft, and Liability. As noted Fire is usually a total loss. Theft is important if there will be frequent or long periods when nobody is home, e.g. both parents work at outside jobs. But Liability is the one most overlooked and please note that with liability you can lose more than you own or even your net worth. If someone is injured on your property or your kids cause someone a large financial loss. A fire started on our property, jumped the road and burned down a schoolhouse. and burned into a subdivision doing damage to several properities and started a general forest fire. And here is the nasty part mobile homes are largel insured by shyster fly by night insurance companies. We had to hire a lawyer to keep the insurance company from slipping out and leaving us holding the bag. If you don't need insurance (think real hard about that one) because you could lose your land your care and everything in lawsuit. but if you can deal with that, then maybe.

You cannot get insurance from most companies if you have wood heat or any non standard combustion device in the home.

In case a disaster, fire (house, grass, or forest) flood, windstorm. GET OUT!!! Mobile homes are vulnerable and provide very little protection. A crude wind storm shelter is better protection than the best mobile home. And do anchor the home against wind or earthquake.

Repair parts for windows, wather heaters plumbing electrical, etc are often non standard and not available except from Mobile home sources and are often over priced so expect maintaince to not be cheap and often not easy. This is especially a problem on older units.
Changing anything about the electrical system or plumbing is usually a nightmare. Air conditioning is often a claptrap affair or a real pain when it comes to moving a unit.

Since there is not usually a "real foundation" buy a 5 to 20 ton hydraulic jack as you will have to relevel from time to time often once every spring if you live where the frost line is deep in the soil Otherwise your doors often stick. (cutting about an inch off the top and bottom of all hinged doors is an alternative, but sliding doors on closets may be a different issue. Learn how to level your own mobile home because you don't want to pay the service fees later. (e.g. a. level across in frontof the axles, b. front to back to get level to behind the axles, c. all behind the axles, d. all in front of the axles.

Insulation is usually poor. so heating and cooling are expensive.

Metal roofs may have to be re-sealed every several years or after moves.

Skirting the mobile home can be an invitation to termites. Never use un treated wood in the skirting system and make sure that your skirting system has an access panel ahead and behind the axles.

Sewer pipe runs underneath the home in the crawl space and can freeze in some climates. If you live where that can happen and leave the water trickling in the sink to keep the supply pipe from freezing you can end up with a frozen sewer pipe (I have seen this happen in N.D. & Minnesota. Unless you want to take a frozen sewer pipe apart and indoors to thaw it you have to heat the crawl space to thaw it. Heat tape and insulation is required to protect the supply line but done wrong it has started many fires. Never let the heat tape cross itself. Grounded (3 wire) heat tapes are safer and usually required!!!

Don't let some bastard sell you a mobile home on terms where he gets to keep the axles., wheels, and tires !!! Just Don't !!!

You will need a good storage shed. It often will be more storm resistant than the home. Especially if it is one of those quanset type buildings.

While we are on the topic of sheds. If you are starting out on a shoe string consider just building what will later become a garage or workshop, or barn, or tractor shed, on a concrete slab when you build a "real house" and skip the mobile home altogether. Kitchen cabinets fixtures and bathroom fixtures can all be transferred to the home later, but be sure that you put in enough sewage system for the home (or can at least upgrade it)

Mobile homes are not like ordinary homes and they can serve a good purpose but you have to understand the difference and learn to do some things different and not "just rig something up" to get by if you want safe reliable housing. If you are handy with tools, have the time, and don't do sloppy work you can do well with a used mobile home as a starter house but if not, you probably would not be happy taking that approach. Been there Done that Had two mobile homes,1 new , one used. lived in 2 trailer courts and also on my own land.


I could probably say more if I worked at it but that is probably enough for now.

I will say this much more. Suppose you buy a used mobile home to get yourself started and through diligence you get your property to where you can afford a "real house" and you build and move into that after several years. By that time the mobile home will prbably be an eyesore and a piece of crap. GET RID OF THAT DISREPUTABLE DEPRESSING EYESORE (If it is not depressing you it is depressing your property value! ) GIVE IT AWAY TO SOME STRUGGLING INDIVIDUAL IF YOU HAVE TO AND WISH THEM WELL! Your spouse will love you more, your neighbors will love you more and think well of you and your success at coming up in the world Unlike regular houses Mobile homes outlive their usifulness on a much shorter time span and reach a point where it makes no sense to try to update and improve them. The were built for a price and a purpose and will outlive that purpose.

 
Deb Rebel
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http://www.vintagetrailersupply.com/Clutch-Head-Screw-Bits-p/vts-578.htm  you will often need these.

In vehicles of the 1940's and 50's and trailers and modular homes into the mid to late 80's, were put together with 'Butterfly Clutch' screwheads. It's a special bit. You keep losing them (we've lost 5 in 8 years). You need these. Every time we have to do a repair or upgrade we take out the clutch screws, some of them are insanely long, and replace with phillips head usually.
 
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My wife and I live in a mobile home in western Massachusetts. We bought it about a year ago for $6500. The place had been abandoned for 2 years, with a single elderly woman living in it before then. Nursing home folks came and took her and her bed and locked the door behind them(food still in the fridge,personal effects left behind,etc.)leaving the place abandoned until 2 years later when the park took it. The park sold it to a flipper, who got halfway through a lazy renovation and repair, and then gave up and sold it to us. We had to rip out every wall, redo all the plumbing, re-stud, re-coat the roof, you name it. Water damage, bad wiring, dead furnace, everything. Also one other thing often overlooked is health! Mobile homes are made of some nasty stuff and any toxic substances will be stirred up into the air even more once you start renovations. I think we have asbestos linoleum tiles in ours.

The good news is that with friends, tools, SOME money(my income is sad lol) and alot of time, you can make an old mobile home a viable place to live. Just be ready to do alot of remodeling. If you dont have time to invest in upgrading and repairing,I really wouldnt recommend it.

I think that in the end, it will still be much cheaper than getting a mortgage on a house, especially in my area, but we knew going into this that we were not going to live in it for the rest of our lives. Still better than renting, i love not sharing a wall with strangers anymore, and having my own tiny yard.

All in all it depends on what you need in a home, how long you need it, and how much work you can invest.
 
Don Goddard
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Jake, your comments jogged my memory about something that a lot of people intending to renovate a mobile home might not know about how such homes were built. A few comments might help even if they are only mostly true about most mobile homes.

Conventional homes are built from the outside in more or less.:
A foundation is established
A frame is put up
The frame is sheathed and roofed on the outside of the structure
The insulation is installed
the electrical wiring is installed
The plumbing is installed,
the walls and ceiling are sheet rocked
Paneling may be added where desired
The walls ceiling are painted papered textured and painted
The floors are tiled carpeted or vinyl laid down
Pretty much in that order, more or less

Not so for mobile homes which are to a great extent built from the inside out. following a general plan more or less as follows, (varies with different companies).
A steel frame on axles is built
The floor is built consisting of framing in both directions (stringers lengthwise and joists cross wise)  with the framing sometimes assembled upside down.
Plumbing heat ducts are run lengthwise or cross wise through the framing.
Insulation is added,
celllulose fiber board is secured in place over the insulation. and the whole thing turned over so that it is now right side up. and placed on the steel frame.
The floor structure is attached to the steel frame.
If it was not done previously the flooring boards (e.g. oriented strand board, (aka OSB) or plywood )is added.  
Floor coverings are added.
Pre cut exterior wall studs are fabricated with an array of notches for electrical  wiring and used to build walls that are panelled on the inside with window openings pre formed.
The exterior walls are placed as units and secured to one another and the floor structure  and in some cases the floor framing in a unique manner that may resist transport loading better.
Interior wall framing made in a similar manner possibly panelled on one only one side is added.  
Insulation is added between the exterior wall studs.
A "wiring harness" may be used or individual wires may be run with the wires indiividually and outlets connected up through the walls. with wires run into the interior walls for switches outlets and fixtures
Interior wall paneling may be completed at this time.
Furnace, water heater, cabinetry  plumbing fixtures may be prepositioned at this time.
Roof joists  put in place at this time and ceuling panels secured in place  and light fixtures installed and wired.
Exterior siding of walls installed
Windows installed
One piece sheet metal roof installed over rafters and bent down at the edges to be secured to the header of the wall framing. including a very small Aluminum J-Channel to serve as a rain gutter of sorts into which the edge of the roof is bent down.
An array of finish installation tasks are performed.

DISCLAIMER:   while I have not worked in a mobile home factory, I have worked on multiple mobile homes where these structure features are visible and I have been informed by others, and the precise sequence used in any factory or by any manufacturer may vary.  A variety of differences exist and some are structurally superior for resisting transport loads and other are not so good and may require things to be fixed after transport (e.g. panels that were only stabled come off of walls.  some manufacturrs have used superior methods for attaching the exterior walls to the floor structure, some manufactures may have used glue between wall studs and paneling and not just staples.  etc. etc.)  The foregoing is only intended to be  only representative of construction techniques and sequences .

That being said, It should be obvious that there are profound differences, so that when upgrades and repairs are done different and sometimes difficult techniques have to be used.  If the home is in a really hot climate and air conditioniing needs to be added via a window mount unit, there may not be enough structure in the wall to support it.  Putting a separate support to the ground may be a very poor choice for a trailer on pilings as these often move do to wet/dry cycles and frost heave. and the trailer may move relative to the AC support.   Exterior reinforcement of the wall with treated lumber may be highly desirable.   Adding a wood stove for heating can be a really dicy operation and needs careful planning.   I MEAN REALLY CAREFUL PLANNING !!! (I can recount two different  techniques I used.if anyone is interested.  It was a conventional "jackeded" wood space heater.  It was not a rocket stove, so I cannot speak directly to that.  My first installation was safe, my second one was also much more convenient)

An important point is that the construction code for mobile homes is based on climate zones so you do not want a home for the southern zome if you live in the northern zone or you wont like the heating costs.  This may be less of a problem with newer homes but a big one with older ones.

My whole point being that mobile homes are very much a different beast than conventional homes, so please have your eyes open when considering this option.   A mobile home can work well as a solution but they "tend to be shorter term solutions" but not always so if done right. I should also add that they are prone to some unique and curious problems which are only correctable at reasonable cost by using careful diagnosis and clever solutions.
 
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Hmm, I got here late, but better late than never. I have lived in mobile homes for at least half my life. I currently live in a 1957 Detroiter park model, with my mom. It definitely qualifies as a tiny home. We plan to relocate to the desert SW and buy a new MH. As for safety, I wouldn't live in a MH in a high disaster area like the south or eastern coastal regions or tornado alley. But then, those aren't places I would live anyway. As for economics, the taxes are generally personal property, unless you finance as a land/home package and then you turn that MH into real property and are taxed at a higher rate. But it is still cheaper to live than a stick built of the same square footage. Which means more money to garden and do chicken math!
 
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