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How to Check the Quality of a Manufactured Home

written by: Kantha Wijeratne•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 1/13/2012

Manufactured homes are becoming popular with buyers due to their affordability, construction quality and variety in design. Whether you decide to buy a new or pre-owned house, make sure that it is free of defects. This article explains how to check the quality of a manufactured home.

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    Manufactured homes are gaining in popularity as an alternative to on-site houses. Versatility of design, quality construction, affordability and the willingness of lenders to provide financing for manufactured homes are some of the reasons that are driving buyers to this sector. Provided zoning laws in an area permit the setting up of a manufactured home, a buyer can choose to have one set up on a private or leased property or a planned sub-division. If you intend to buy a new or pre-owned manufactured house, the price you pay should reflect its true value. It is in your interest to check the quality of a manufactured home before committing to buy.

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    What is a Manufactured Home?

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a manufactured home as “a singe-family house constructed entirely in a controlled factory environment, built to the federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards". These standards are better known as the HUD code.

    A manufactured home built after June 15, 1976 is in compliance of the HUD code. The metal certification label affixed to the exterior of each transportable section signifies that the house has been designed, constructed, tested and inspected by a third party to comply with the HUD code. In addition to design and construction, this code also lays out standards for strength and durability, transportability, fire resistance, energy efficiency, heating, plumbing, air-conditioning, thermal and electrical systems as well as quality control both by the manufacturer’s inspectors as well as a third party agency.

    The data plate is a paper certificate that is issued by the manufacturer giving more details about the house. It is attached inside the home. The data plate provides the name and address of the manufacturing plant, serial number and model design, date of manufacture, a statement that the home construction complies with the HUD code, the certification label number(s), details of factory installed equipment, the roof load zone and wind load zone that applies to the home’s design and the approving agency for the home’s design.

    To protect the buyer, HUD requires you to sign a placement certificate agreeing that you are satisfied with the installation of your home. This is required for the lender to release any agreed funding for your home. If you encounter any construction related problems after moving in, you should contact HUD or the State Administrative Agency for help.

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    Are You Buying a New Manufactured Home?

    If you hope to buy a new manufactured home, it is best to carefully check out the model of the home with the retailer. Check for quality of materials and workmanship. Examine all doors and windows to ensure they align properly. Is there air seeping in around windows or exterior doors when closed? Are exterior doors solid? Inquire about materials used for exterior walls and roof. Check that the floor is even. Clarify any questions relating to the manufacture and transport of the unit.

    Before the house can be installed you need to build a foundation on which the home can be anchored. There is a tendency for this foundation to shift after installation leading to uneven floors or doors and windows that do not close properly. Check over the entire house with the installer after set up to ensure that everything is in order.

    Check that all warranties issued by the manufacturer, retailer and transporter are in place. It is best to get a written warranty from the transporter to cover any damage caused on the way from the retailer to your home site. The manufacturer will provide a manual as well as a check list that will help you to maintain the quality of your home. Use this check list to examine each room. Note any items that need attention. Date the completed check list and mail it to the manufacturer retaining a copy for your records. A delay in returning this can affect the manufacturer’s warranty.

    Check that the level of your home stays even. It is recommended that the first check be done after 60-90 days of installation and annually thereafter.

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    Are You Buying a Pre-owned Home?

    If you consider moving in to a pre-owned manufactured home, checking its quality becomes all the more important. Note that homes built before June 15, 1976 are not considered as complying with the HUD code. However, they should comply with regional or local building codes relevant to such manufactured homes. Obtain details relating to the manufacture and age of the house from the buyer or retailer to assess its value.

    Any additions such as decks or garages that are built after installation are not covered by the HUD code but should comply with the building codes in effect in the area. Check whether the house is being sold with a warranty or “as is". If a warranty is available, understand what is covered, whether it is transferable and how it is to be kept in force.

    It is best to get the services of an appraiser having expertise in manufactured homes to check over a pre-owned house before deciding to buy. Check that the heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing and other systems function as they should. Are there any stains or damp spots in ceilings and walls, roof and insulation that signify leaks? Do any systems such as the heater or wiring need replacing? Are the floors even? Is the area surrounding the house sloped away from it?

    Inform the seller about any repairs or replacements that need attention. Not only would this give you peace of mind but it would also help you to arrange financing to buy the home.

    Whether you move in to a new or pre-owned house, it is important that you take good care of it. Regular maintenance will help preserve its value and provide you a quality environment to live in.