Inspection of Manufactured Homes

Sorry Alison, that’s not quite correct.

A mobile home (as it was called years ago) is the same thing as a manufactured home. Built on a steel chassis with axles & wheels, pulled to the site and installed.

A modular home is put on a truck and hauled to the site for assembly of the parts.

Here’s a place with good definitions of them.

Manufactured Home or Modular Home

Alison, the terms “Mobile home & Manufactured home” home have 2 different legal deffinitions:

  • Mobile home: Steel chassied and wheeled axled home delivered prior to 1976
  • Manufactured Home: as above but built under HUD codes after 1975

The type of home that is delivered on a flatbed but in sections (which in all other respects is a stick-built structure) and is required to meet all local codes at its destination, is a Modular Home.



Hi Erby,

sorry you beat me too it :wink:



Ah, I see. I was reading the info on the NYinspect site, and I was confused when all three were listed. I didn’t know the date thing.

I have an inspection coming up this next week on a “modular” according to the client. It’s in a park that I believe has manufactured houses, not mods. I am going to have to explain the difference to her.

She is asking about tie downs and stuff—home is for her mom who is moving down from NYS. If it’s a mod, it won’t need tie downs. Manufactured will.

Not that I am going to comment on tie downs—I’m not out of my mind, despite what Erby says. :stuck_out_tongue: I will refer her to an installer or engineer for that.

Thank you, gentlemen. Gerry, next class you give in FL, I want to try to attend. The course I took was a couple of years ago, and I think yours would be better.

I usually say this: “The sub-floor of the manufactured home was sealed 100% with black plastic sheeting. This is normal for this type of structure. However, the presence of plastic limited our view of the structure, HVAC equipment, and plumbing. We were unable to see the ducts, insulation, pipes or sub-floors. However, no leaks were noted.”

As you crawl underneath, touch the plastic often. I’ve found homes with leaks beneath bathrooms. The water fills the plastic, soaks the insulation, and can of course cause structural damage. The plastic acts like a water filled balloon.

My brother did an inspection under a MH and found a “bulge” in the plastic; thinking it was a leak, he decided to pierce it only to find it had been a missing cat that had “liquified” inside the enclosed space. Needless to say I think he still may be gagging to this day. Observers stated he was moving very fast when he exited the crawl space. My other brother thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen.

My brother did an inspection under a MH and found a “bulge” in the plastic; thinking it was a leak, he decided to pierce it only to find it had been a missing cat that had “liquified” inside the enclosed space. Needless to say I think he still may be gagging to this day. Observers stated he was moving very fast when he exited the crawl space. My other brother thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. I only wish I could have been there.

My inspection is in a couple of hours. It’s a 17 year old home. I don’t expect to find much until I get under the home, where all the fun begins. I do expect to find piers in need of more shimming, though. Maybe some cracks.

I really hope the a/c and water heater are not 17 years old.

And I ain’t walkin’ this roof either.

In 17 years this home (the park) went through 5 hurricanes, a tornado, and various tropical storms. Let’s see how those tie downs worked! :wink:

That’s why the foundation inspection has to be signed off by licensed engineer. It can’t just have any old tie downs anymore. The details for what has to be in place is fairly lengthy and very specific; types of devices, spacing, strap angles and clamping devices, support piers and pads, skirting, various combinations of configurations, etc. If it hasn’t been updated in 17 years I doubt it is going to cut the muster.

That’s perfectly fine. :smiley: After crawling around the perimeter of the home, I found 6 of the 10 straps were rusted through. Just gone. Someone is coming tomorrow to see about the repair. I reported a problem, explained that what was needed next was beyond my scope, and arrangements were made on the spot with the park’s management for the installer-type guy to come in. Now it is up to them.

Does anyone in the Midwest or similar cold winter, muggy summer climate have additional pointers for my Monday inspection?

Just for the record, I have performed hundreds and hundreds of inspections on manufactured homes here in the state of Florida and only once (to my knowledge) was an engineer needed to “verify” an unsatisfactory condition that I had listed on my report. The engineer was hired by the realtor…he showed up…verified my report…never to be heard from again.

Manufactured homes do have more things that you must look at, so in my opinion you should charge more, but I do so many of them that I charge the same as a single family home.

You may be confusing the regular inspection with the “foundation” inspection. You can inspect all the other elements just like you normally would but the foundation portion of the inspection has a separate inspection process that only a licensed engineer can sign off. The wind resistant tie downs, LSDs, etc. have very specific criteria such as maximum spacing, type of anchors, position of anchors, types of frame clamps, clips, strapping connections. These are not items the average HI will even know about unless they have been through the installers’ school or had the training. Basically, the law does not prohibit you from inspecting the house just like any other home but when it comes to the foundation and all its related components, you have to be an engineer, Period. The process is just like code in that it occasionally changes and typically upgrades have to be made whenever a home changes hands or is refinanced. It then has to meet the current standards.

Some pics from a 7 year old mfg home I did recently…




This last pic is the belly wrap holding a nice pocket of water (nice and cold against my back when I crawled past)



and more…:slight_smile:








Agreed…The inspections that I perform are basically the same as a regular single family home, with the exception that you must enter the crawl space and inspect tie-downs, piers, electrical and plumbing connections between the two half’s of the home, etc, etc, etc. (not to mention Termites…yes I am licensed to do W.D.O.'s also). But, also as a regular single family home inspection, these are visual inspections, “not code inspections”. That’s not what a home inspector is hired for. Now, for the record, if a blatant code violation is observed, naturally it will be noted on the report, but to inspect (for example) a 1984 manufactured, or site built regular home, and expect it to be up to par (code wise) with a 2007 home would not be fair.As I stated earlier in the previous post, I have only been aware of one instance when an engineer was hired, and he was only hired to verify my report, which he did. It kind of follows the same path as a W.D.O. report, There are only necessary if the lender requires it.

We’re all in this together, so the last thing I want to do is upset or confuse a fellow inspector, but these manufactured homes are money makers just like site built homes. If unfortunately you live in an area where the lenders are more strict than they are here, and require an engineer for every inspection, that is very unfair to you as an inspector and to the buyers and sellers. With the multiple hurricanes that we had go through here a few years back, other than the homes that were destroyed, the MAJORITY of the home never moved a centimeter off their piers. The main damage was carports and screen rooms, the homes held up VERY well, excluding the older homes from the '70’s. And I’m very sorry for those folks that lost those older homes in those storms, but those storms did act as, I guess you could call it a cleansing action - out with the old, in with the new. Don’t be afraid to inspect a manufactured home, just do a little home work first, or if you live anywhere near me, I would be more than happy to let you go through a manufactured home inspection with me. The market seems to be getting a little stronger lately, and I’m inspecting at least 2 or 3 manufactured homes a week, not to mention the more frequent single family site built homes.

I hope I’ve helped more than confused…please let me know if you have any other comments or questions.


Guess what type of home this is? Hint: it can be yours for $55K.

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Do modular homes have tie down straps?

Foundation anchors…

Thanks for the input. I went to the home today and found it to be a manufactured home complete with 4/12 roof pitch, metal framework (w/o axles or tongue), the entrance door is 6’3" x 32" instead of 6’8" x 36", 3 HUD tags, tie downs, block piers, and black plastic sheeting on the underside of the floor joists. The home has an “energy saver package” which includes 2x6 walls. Does anyone think that this home (removing the metal undercarriage and complying with local codes) could be reclassified as a modular? Thanks, Terry