Manufactured/Mobile Home Inspection Needs Special Attention

There are several Mobile Home Parks (MHPs) throughout the North Shore and Sunshine Coast, including Capilano MHP in West Vancouver, The Poplars MHP in Gibsons and Big Maple MHP in Sechelt.

A qualified manufactured/mobile home inspector discusses below some of the unique feature of this type of housing.

Unique Issues to Manufactured/Mobile Home

Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes, have their own unique set of issues that a home inspector should pay special attention to. Here are six problem areas that a home inspector looks for in mobile homes, which differ from stick-built houses:

  1. Structural Integrity: Mobile homes have a different structural design than traditional houses, often relying on a metal frame or chassis. Inspectors check for signs of rust or damage to the frame, as well as the stability of support piers, tie-downs, and anchors.
  2. Roof and Ceiling Issues: Mobile home roofs are typically different, often with a lower slope and constructed with different materials. Inspectors look for roof leaks, damaged roofing materials, and ceiling stains, which can be common issues.
  3. Insulation and Energy Efficiency: Mobile homes can have different insulation standards, leading to potential energy efficiency problems. Inspectors check for proper insulation and look for signs of drafts or heat loss.
  4. Plumbing and Electrical Systems: The plumbing and electrical systems in mobile homes can be unique and may require different inspection techniques. Inspectors examine the condition of pipes, water heaters, electrical panels, and outlets, making sure they comply with safety standards.
  5. Flooring and Subflooring: Mobile homes often have different flooring materials and subflooring compared to traditional houses. Inspectors check for water damage, rot, and structural issues that might affect the stability of the home.
  6. Skirting and Undercarriage: The skirting around a mobile home plays a critical role in ventilation and insulation. Inspectors assess the condition of the skirting and make sure it’s properly installed. They also check for any signs of pests or damage to the undercarriage.

Buyer’s Tip

In addition to the areas, home inspectors should be thorough in examining all the standard components of a home, such as windows, doors, appliances, and safety features, while keeping in mind the unique characteristics of mobile homes. It’s essential for home inspectors to have specialized knowledge of manufactured/mobile homes to provide a comprehensive assessment.

Attachments to Manufactured/Mobile Home Prone to Failure

Attachments to mobile homes, including decks and mudrooms, can indeed pose structural challenges due to the differences in construction methods and materials between the mobile home and these additions. Here are some common issues associated with such attachments:

  1. Improper Anchoring: One of the most significant concerns is the improper anchoring of decks or mudrooms to the mobile home. These additions must be independently securely or self supporting. When relying on the mobile’s anchoring, these structures can become unstable or pose safety hazards.
  2. Weight Distribution: If not self-supporting, decks and mudrooms add additional weight to the mobile home. Mobile homes are designed to be lightweight and are often supported by piers and footings. When not properly self-supported, the added weight can lead to uneven settling or sagging of the roof or wall, potentially causing damage to the home.
  3. Differential Movement: Mobile homes are designed to be transported and may have a degree of flexibility. Decks and mudrooms are typically rigid structures. This difference in flexibility can lead to differential movement, causing stress on the attachment points and the mobile home itself.
  4. Unacceptable Attachment: Attachments should only be limited to flashing that provides a weather seal between the mobile home and addition. Use of inappropriate connection methods, such as bolts and brackets, nails or fasteners, can lead to structural weakness.
  5. Lack of Permits and Compliance: Many additions to mobile homes, including decks and mudrooms, require permits and must adhere to local building codes and regulations. Inspectors look for compliance with these codes to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the attachments.
  6. Weather Exposure: Decks and mudrooms are exposed to the elements, and improper construction can lead to water infiltration, which can damage the mobile home’s exterior and substructure.

Attachment Tip

To address these issues, it’s essential to have any attachments to a manufactured/mobile home professionally designed, installed, and inspected. A qualified contractor with experience in mobile home construction can ensure that these structures are properly attached and comply with all relevant building codes and safety standards. Regular inspections and maintenance are also crucial to detect and address any issues early, preventing further structural problems.

Wood Stove in Manufactured/Mobile Home

Mobile homes with improperly installed wood-burning stoves can pose a significant fire hazard. Wood-burning stoves can provide an efficient and cost-effective source of heat, but their installation and use in mobile homes require strict adherence to safety guidelines. Here are some of the key reasons why improper installation of wood-burning stoves in mobile homes can be a fire hazard:

  1. Clearances: Wood stoves require specific clearances from combustible materials, including walls, floors, and nearby objects. In the limited space of a mobile home, it can be challenging to maintain these clearances. Improper clearances can lead to overheating of nearby materials, increasing the risk of ignition.
  2. Chimney and Venting: Proper venting and chimney installation are crucial to safely remove the byproducts of combustion. Inadequate or incorrect venting can result in the buildup of creosote, a highly flammable substance, in the chimney. Creosote buildup can lead to chimney fires.
  3. Combustible Materials: Mobile homes often have materials that are more combustible than those found in traditional stick-built houses. This includes lightweight wall materials, which can ignite more easily if they come into contact with the high heat produced by a wood stove.
  4. Insulation and Drafts: Mobile homes may have less insulation and more drafts than traditional homes. These factors can affect the stove’s efficiency and the safety of the installation. Insufficient insulation can make the area around the stove uncomfortably cold and lead to attempts to place combustible materials closer to the stove.
  5. Use of Approved Stoves: Not all wood stoves are suitable for use in mobile homes. Stoves designed for mobile home use are specially tested and certified to meet safety standards. Installing a stove that is not approved for mobile homes can be dangerous.

Wood Stove Tip

To mitigate these fire hazards, it is crucial to have a professional installer who is familiar with the specific requirements for wood stove installation in mobile homes. Additionally, regular maintenance, including chimney cleaning and inspections, is necessary to prevent creosote buildup and ensure the stove’s proper functioning. Mobile home residents should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and local building codes for the safe use of wood-burning stoves.