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Mobile Homes: What They Are, What They’re Called, And What Advantages They Offer
A mobile home is a prefabricated structure. They’re also known as trailers, house trailers, residential caravans, static caravans, and trailer homes. They’re build in factories where they get permanently attached to a chassis before they’re transported to a site or towed on an oversize trailer. They commonly get used as permanent homes, but they can also be used as temporary or holiday accommodations. They sometimes also get left either semi-permanently or permanently in one place. Still, they can get moved again, and there are times that this is necessary at times for various legal reasons.
Mobile homes have similar historic origins with travel trailers, although nowadays they are quite different in terms of size and furnishings. Travel trailers are used mainly for vacation or temporary homes. Behind any cosmetic work that gets fitted at the time of installation in order to hide the base, you can find tow-hitches, wheels, axles, and strong trailer frames.
This kind of housing in America traces back to the earliest years of car travel and motorized highway transportation. Mobility was the primary purpose behind this kind of housing, and units were actually marketed to those whose lifestyle dictated mobility. Starting in the 1950s, some of these homes started getting marketed as a cheap form of housing that could be set up in a location and then left there for a long stretch of time. With a masonry foundation, they can even be permanently installed. Early units were 8 feet wide or less, but 1956 saw the introduction of ‘mobile homes’ that were 10-feet wide.
These homes were now given rectangular shapes and made out of pre-painted aluminum panels instead of the previously streamlined shape of travel trailers that were typically painted after they got assembled. This all helped broaden the difference between mobile homes and travel trailers. Interestingly, some states will tax mobile homes as a piece of personal property when the wheels, tongue, and axles stay attached, but they’ll be considered real estate when these are removed.
Modern mobile homes typically come in to primary sizes, being what are known as single-wides and then double-wides. Single-wides are usually 18 feet in width or less with a length of no more than 90 feet. They can get towed to sites as an individual unit. On the other hand, double-wides are 20 feet or wide and can be 90 feet in length. They get towed to their sites as a pair of units that often get paired together. Triple-wides and other homes with four or more units can also be built, just not as frequently. Single-wides get moved more often than double-wides, which only about 5 percent of get moved ever.
Given their size and construction, mobile homes can suffer a lot more damage than a site-built home. An EF1 tornado might only do minor damage to a permanent home, but a factory-built home, especially an older one, or one that is not secured, can be destroyed by winds of 70 MPH.
Still, there are upgrades and even optional hurricane straps that can help out, and over 17 million Americans are choosing to live inside manufactured homes. What is they know that others don’t? There are a number of advantages to mobile and manufactured homes.
Affordability is certainly a big one for any option for a family looking to buy their own home. Manufactured and mobile homes run an average of $62,600, which is far cheaper than the average of $272,200 for a site-built home for a single family. Mobile homes cost anywhere from 10 percent to 35 percent less to build per square foot. Despite the popular conception of working class people living in them, the middle class loves them too. The median annual income for a family in a mobile home is actually $34,700. The average household measures at 2.7 people, and a quarter of all mobile home households brings home over $50,000 a year, much of which they save given the cheaper costs of living.
Many also love the convenience of the building process. Site-built homes can have delayed construction, surly contractors, and cost overruns. Mobile homes are built in factories and show up 90 percent complete, usually just needing a good foundation and utility connections. The whole process is typically three times faster when an order is placed, and much faster if you order something already made.
Current mobile homes also have far more design flexibility than they did two generations ago. The designs can be quite elaborate, and there can even be perks like porches, decks, garages, and vaulted ceilings. Depending on the specific lot, a homeowner can even add landscaping. Hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops.
Energy efficiency is a huge advantage for manufactured homes. Many of them are now outfitted with Energy Star appliances. They’re also energy-efficient on their own given their more compact size, as they don’t cost as much to heat or cool.
You can also have quite a few amenities installed, be they walk-in closets, soaker bathtubs, jetted tubs, bay windows, gabled roofs, and fireplaces. Low-flow faucets and high-efficiency roofs and heat pumps can gather and recycle rainwater to fuel or power such amenities when need be.
A number of mobile home communities are actually securely gated, and some even mimic tiny resorts. Homeowners can actually own a home but rent the land they sit their home, which happens in a quarter of all mobile home placements. The rest get put on private property.
Some think that manufactured homes don’t go up in value, but if they’re built and maintained properly, they can appreciate in value, especially when considering factors like the local housing market and community, inflation, how much the home initially cost, the location of the home, and its age and condition.
Another great thing is that many manufactured homes come with warranties, and why not? Most are made in a factory. This would cover things like construction, windows, siding, doors, faucets, appliances, and more. Warranties will vary, but extended ones are available. Always make sure you know what is covered and for how long, and keep the paperwork to back yourself up.